Why is it so many of us feel we've no time to observe Shabbat? Are our lives so full and busy that we have not a moment to stop, rest and thank Gd for all of life's gifts? What are we not getting in our lives that would make it possible for us to observe Shabbat as it was intended- as a day of rest from labors?
We are no different than those who came before us. The doubters always existed. Though Moshe made is quite clear to the people that they should gather a double portion of manna on the 6th day, and not go out to gather manna on the 7th, still the Torah tells us that some did go out to gather manna on the 7th day - and found none. So why are we all scrambling to find more manna on Shabbat?
I submit to each of us that, when we go out looking for our manna, our sustenance, on the 7th day, that we too will find none. Our pursuit of work, shopping, and other activities on Shabbat - will that truly bring us the sustenance we need?
"But if I don't work on Saturday, I don't earn enough money!" Is money the all the sustenance we need?
"But I have to shop on Saturday. I'm so busy the rest of the week, and my family would go hungry and without clothes if I didn't shop on Saturday." Are clothes and food all the sustenance we need?
We're all missing something here. If, as Jews, we have faith in Gd, no matter our understanding of Gd, then we must believe that Gd still provides that double portion of manna so that on Shabbat we don't have to go out and gather it. Somewhere in our day to day activities, our daily existence, we're getting that double portion-and we just don't know it.
Our bodies need more than physical nourishment. As we are taught : "In eyn kemach, eyn Torah; im eyn Torah eyn kemach." Without sustenance, there is no Torah; without Torah, there is no sustenance. We are not just automatons, robots, zombies, Stepford wives, that go about simply fulfilling our assigned duties, seeking only to complete our tasks and move on to the next one. We are not content with the simple satisfaction of pure labor and nothing else. Not just our bodies need nourishing, but our minds, and our souls. Work can, and does in some situations, provide some mental and spiritual nourishment. But it is probably a diet not rich in all the required nutrients for proper care and feeding of the mind and the soul. We have to stop once in a while, and take into our bodies, minds and souls the nourishment that can only come from Torah, from Gd. This is why Gd gave us Shabbat. My favorite holiday-the one that comes once a week.
They're out there somewhere-those double portions of manna-of sustenance, that Gd has provided for us in order that we can observe a day of rest, of spiritual nourishment, of Shabbat. (Of course, one can easily question whether the selection of sunset Friday to sunset Saturday as that day of rest is arbitrary, and that one might choose another day. That's a discussion for another time.)
I don't know how these double portions might appear. In my own life, I might identify the double portion as my good fortune to be working in a Jewish setting, empowering me to celebrate Shabbat as it was intended. Yet, sadly, even I often ignore the gift, and go out seeking more manna on Shabbat. (So, here's a question of the week for me-is leading a Tot Shabbat service on Saturday work?)
Our lives are so busy, so harried, so hurried. Yet, both because of this and in spite of this, surely our lives are filled with more than enough manna than we need to sustain us. So why do we keep looking for manna on Shabbat? We are all well satiated with the physical sustenance we gather daily in our lives-is it not enough to carry us through one day of rest? And we greedily gather up our manna-far more than we need. We need to find a way to repeat the miracle of Shemot 16:17-18 - "The people of Israel did thus - they gathered, (some) much and (some) little. And when they measured it by the omer, the gatherers of much had no extra, the gatherers of little had no lack; each what they could eat they gathered." Can we each say the same is true for us now?
My challenge to each of us this week is to look for those double portions in our lives that just might enable us to observe Shabbat as Gd has commanded (or asked, if you prefer) us to do.
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©2002 by Adrian A. Durlester
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