I sometimes find it hard to disconnect, to ignore the ring tone that tells me a text has arrived or to avoid compulsively checking my email. We live in an age where being connected is of supreme importance, where being unconnected is anxiety-producing. There’s even an acronym for it: FOMO, Fear of Missing Out.
Long before social media and mobile phones, psychologists realized the benefit of taking time out for us to recharge and reset. Recharging is not just necessary for good physical and mental health; it is also a boost to creativity.
So how does one unplug from the increasing demands of modern life? Believe it or not, there is a weekly antidote for FOMO that is so simple it’s easy to overlook. It’s called Shabbat.
There is a song called It’s Time to Say Good Shabbos that was written and sung by the musical group Journeys. I particularly love this verse:
So, throw away your hammer
There’s nothing left to do
Go home and find the gift that’s waiting there for you.
The gift, of course, is Shabbat – if we choose to see it as a gift.
Shabbat for me is a time to disconnect from my weekday life and step into an oasis in time. I reconnect with my family, my friends, my spiritual side and God. I step back, take a deep breath and live in the moment. And that truly is a gift!
On Shabbat, Judaism tells us that we separate the sacred from the profane. Pre-COVID-19, Shabbat was a time for me to have friends over for dinner. Preparing for Shabbat — cooking, maybe baking challah and polishing the candlesticks — started the process of disconnecting from the profane, the everyday.
When the doorbell rang and I welcomed my friends, we would all begin to connect with the sacredness of Shabbat by lighting candles, reciting kiddush, the prayer over the wine that ushers in Shabbat, and motzi, the prayer over the challah. As is the tradition, we then blessed our children. We knew that Jews around the world were doing the same thing.
This Friday evening, my request to you, if you don’t already celebrate Shabbat, is to give Shabbat a try. Whatever that may mean for you, take a breath and let go. Commit to making Shabbat an oasis in time, a period without demands and obligations. Leave your phone in your bedroom. Have coffee outside, listen to the birds and experience the peace and restfulness of Shabbat.