Mar 17, 2010

The Sabbath Manifesto

I'm a sucker for viral web projects, and I just happened upon one (okay, they started following me on Twitter) today. The project? It's called the Sabbath Manifesto. The tagline? "Slowing down lives since 2010."

Listen, when I started going shomer Shabbos, the first thing I tried (keyword: tried) to do was unplug entirely. I did it cold turkey. No internet, no phone, no tv, no iPod. And believe me, it was hell on wheels. But now? I honestly -- and I'm not trying to lift you up and drop you in the dark side of "strict observance" here -- can't survive without Shabbat. My week used to turn into another week and another and months flowed together into years and there was no break; it was a continuous flow of noise and mess and chaos. But when I figured out how to make a day of rest from technology work, it turned into a day of rest from a ton of other things, which turned into a big day of rest from all of the stuff I do every other day of the week. It allowed me to read books for pleasure, talk with people, rest, just sit, to watch life go by around me while I rested, sound and relaxed in mind and thought.

And, you know what, a sabbath -- while it has a loaded "religious" tone -- really is for everyone. I think now about people who function on a 24/7 schedule of Twitter and blogging and Facebook and their phone and text messaging and fidgeting with worthless apps and my face hurts. In a world burdened with noise, I think everyone could take a day to step back and just say "wow, there's more to life than all of this other stuff." I hear from people all the time how mystified they are at the idea of a day without technology, and then later from the same people how they sincerely wish they had the will power to do so.

Of course, the question people always ask: What if there's an emergency? What if someone needs to get ahold of you?

The answer? Nothing is so important that it can't wait a few hours. Someone calls me from Nebraska to say there's an emergency, it's not like I can hop a flight instantly and help it get better. Someone has a pressing question? It can wait. Imagine how things were a hundred years ago -- you had to wait, you didn't have a choice. Did people survive? Heck yeah!

So listen, go to the website, give it a gander, and make it happen. We all need a break; we're on overload; we're liable to implode. Give yourself new life, and wrap yourself around the Sabbath Manifesto.


Anonymous said...

Shabbat is the most important thing for me, when the Bet Din asked about my Shabbat observance (my sponsoring Rabbi mentioned that I have a hectic work week/life) I had to tell them that I use Shabbat as a very legitimate excuse to hide behind to rest/relax & chill, reloading myself for the rest of the week. They agreed, what would I do without Shabbat, probably not survive...

Tzach M. P. said...

You know, as a person who is working toward conversion to Judaism, this is a very helpful thing. While there's no particular religious responsibility for me to keep the sabbath at this point, I'm very much agreed that everyone can benefit from a day of rest; rest that is more complete and different than any other day of the week. What it comes down to is I can start being mindful of all the aspects of Shabbos now (as much as possible anyway outside of any real religious atmosphere and influence) before it becomes to me a great mitzvah later on. Sort of ease the transition. Being able to direct non-Jewish and non-religious people to a site like that helps them understand the concept a little more and see it less of a "religious nutcase" idea, and that's always a good thing in my book.

Not to mention having a job where staring at a computer for 8+ hours a day is a requirement, I can't complain with turning it off for a full day ;)

Happy resting soon enough :)

shavuatov said...

Yup, they're following me too! Thank you for explaining who they are - I was a bit too sleepy at 6am to work it out from the name...


Elianah-Sharon said...

GREAT idea :)

gamzoo said...

I'd say a person should moderate their life the whole week and not rely on a day which requires you to not use any technology at all.

So if you feel you are getting overloaded with electronic junk such as twitter and facebook, then stop using them or just cut down. Then there would be no problem with occasionally using a computer on Saturday.

As long as it doesn't become an addiction and overwhelming, technology is fine any day of the week. The thing is to use technology, but don't let it use you.

Having said that, if you do find shabbos helpful then by all means use it. but it is by no means the only way to cure the abuse of technology

gamzoo said...

I'll add that one of my personal favorite ways to deal with technology overload is to meditate daily (I like to do it on the subway to and back from work) and to take frequent silent mediation retreats throughout the year.

Katherine said...

plus: a true emergency, a life-threatening one, is accounted for in pikuach nefesh.

choose life, and all that.

though shabbat trumps everything else - and should.

Chaviva said...

@Anonymous AMEN! You said it :)

@Tzach You really said it. I didn't even think about the benefit of sending people who might not necessarily understand the "religious" Sabbath, but might get a general Sabbath to that website! What an excellent idea. Good luck in growing in your mitzvot. It can be a challenge, but it's also really liberating!

@ShavuaTov & @Elianah Yay!

@gamzoo Your point is incredibly valid. The problem? Some people don't have the option for weekly moderation. For example, I used to use Shabbat as an excuse before I even took it seriously so that my Nobel Prize Winning boss couldn't contact me one day a week. Otherwise? I was working 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It was that or get a new job. I didn't have the option, so a weekly, enforced Sabbath was necessary to disconnect me not only from him, but his emails and phonecalls! I should toy with meditation; I worry I don't have enough patience, however :)

@Katherine YES! Very good and valid point. Thank you for dropping it in! Problem is? My cellphone is off during Shabbos anyhow ...

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