Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Shabbos Project

You could have wished Joburgers "good Shabbos" any day this week and they would not have looked twice. Everyone everywhere everyday has been talking about Shabbos, thanks to the Chief Rabbi's phenomenally successful "ShabbosProject". In grade one, they told us that if all the Jews would keep one Shabbos, Moshiach would come. I think we can expect him in Joburg this week.

Of course, not everyone who is "keeping Shabbos" this week is keeping it 100%. So what? Whatever Shabbos commitment people make has big heaven-cred.

I've heard skeptics mutter that nobody will keep it up, so what good is a one-time-Shabbos wonder? Judaism isn't a numbers game (if it were, our tiny population should have given up ages ago), it focuses on the value of good when good is done. And it teaches that you never know the impact of that one good move. Maimonides, a.k.a. the Rambam, taught that you should view the world as hanging in perfect balance between good and evil and that your next move could tip the scales the right way and literally save the world. Yes, the Talmud says that we all need to keep Shabbos to earn Moshiach, but it might just be you leaving your phone or laptop off from Friday sunset to Saturday night that will make all the difference in G-d's eyes.

And if you already "keep Shabbos", you can't get away with signing up online for the Discovery points for walking to Shul, or just doing the once-a-week stuff you do anyway. 
Think of the effort all the Shabbos novices will have to invest this week and challenge yourself to put at least as much effort into upgrading your Shabbos. 

If you usually skip Friday night Shul, this is the week to make the effort to start Shabbos as Shabbos is intended to be started. If you don't always make the starting line on Saturday morning, try it this week. Whatever you normally do for Shabbos, do something extra this week.

Shabbos has held Jewish families together over centuries and has brought a ray of light to some of the toughest times in our history. As a teen, I was mesmerised by Lazer Nanas, a Chabadnik who never broke Shabbos once during twenty years of imprisonment in Russian gulags. More recently, I was moved by Herman Wouk's dedication to Shabbos, even as he tried to make his mark on Broadway. Shabbos isn't always easy to keep, but it is always worthwhile.

You know what they say: "More than the Jews have kept Shabbos, Shabbos has kept the Jews". 


yoni said...

i always thought it was two shabbats in a row?
which one is it?

Rabbi Ari Shishler said...

Good question! Take a look at next month's Jewish Life magazine (, have an article on this PG.