This afternoon, spending time with my toddler daughter in nature, I started humming to myself. I made up a tune inspired by the greenery and flowers that surrounded me in the beautiful spring weather. I felt so present, so peaceful. And I thought about how these magical moments that I come upon feel like Shabbat: the Jewish national day of rest which occurs every seventh day of the week. Just because this moment happened on a Tuesday, doesn’t mean it wasn’t inspired, that it wasn’t truly meaningful.
Shabbat is the Jewish national day of rest—day of pause, of taking in inspiration and being present, of letting go and letting G-d. G-d rested on the seventh day, so Jews keep a Sabbath on the seventh day. It is a nationally instituted weekly holiday. Israeli writer Ahad Ha’am once said, “More than the Jews keep Sabbath, the Sabbath keeps the Jews.” Shabbat keeps Jews connected and dedicated to their Judaism, it reinvigorates their religious practice. It also reinvigorates all aspects of their life (since religion is not divorced from overall spirituality, nor is it divorced from one’s overall purpose as a human being—rather it is interwoven).
The inspired moments that individuals have throughout the week fuel an individual’s life. But if we were to solely rely on individuals’ inspirations, we would lack the collective inspiration and dedication. And there is great power in a group.
And I believe this applies to annual holidays as well—Passover’s theme of liberation, Chanukkah’s theme of bravery, etc. These states are accessible any time of year—but these are the periods when they are celebrated as a nation.
I’ve always felt like I am most inspired when I am in solitude—whether it be praying in my living room, or going on a scenic nature walk. In recognizing there are times for individual inspiration and times for national celebration, I can embrace my own trajectory of growth and revelation while honoring the national narrative.
Tonight at sundown I will turn off my phone, light Shabbat candles, and take a 25-hour break from the world. In doing so, I open up an opportunity for deeper connection with myself, with my family, with my community, and, ultimately, with our Creator.