And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. – Genesis 2:2
The Shabbat (sabbath) is something all religious Jews strictly observe. Unlike the Christian sabbath, the Jewish sabbath entails much more than congregating in brick and mortar with a couple of hundred people to listen to one hour of some guy’s interpretation of the “Good Book”. Under Jewish law observing the sabbath means not watching television, no driving, no cooking*, no talking on the telephone and no chatting with your friends on Facebook — all of which I subscribe to. For this reason most mistake me for being religious; I am not nor do I define myself as a religious Jew. I am, however, spiritual. I do subscribe to the belief there are spiritual laws which govern the universe and how we as inhabitants of it interact within it.
It is my firm belief that the biblical laws which so many confuse, misunderstand and misinterpret are merely universal laws to guide us on our physical journey while here on earth. Unfortunately, the Bible has been hijacked by manmade religion. As a result a universal law, such as not coveting your neighbor’s wife, a woman abstaining from certain activities after childbirth (yes I realize this sounds radical) and even observing the sabbath are identified as religion. And here is where many — at least most practical — people are lost, including myself. I personally reject religion. My personal experiences have led me to the unfortunate conclusion that the overwhelming majority of religious people are the most bigoted, myopic, intolerant, selfish and ungodly people I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering.
From the Israeli settlers in Gaza who refuse to allow the Palestinian people to inhabit their own land to the orthodox Jews of Jerusalem who stone people for driving on the sabbath — religion is the common denominator. Religion divides us. It teaches us to hate and fear our spiritual brother who is different from us. And how can one profess to love God, whom they cannot see and hate their brother, whom they can see. We are all brothers and sisters in that we share a common mother — Mother Earth.
Understanding that although you may look different from me or think differently than I, you are still my brother/sister and I should do unto you as I would have you do unto me. This is not a Christian, Muslim or even Jewish law. It is a universal law — just as observing the sabbath. Shabbat means ‘to cease’ but it doesn’t imply just the trivial or surface application, which most focus on. On a deeper level it means to stop and reflect. After six days of running in the rat race, stop and reflect on what you did right or wrong. Stop and reflect on who you might have offended, perhaps unintentionally. And stop to pick up the phone and call or write a note to apologize for your actions. And sometimes just to stop and be still. Because the mind, body and spirit require this too. This is a universal law.
*Jews who observe the Shabbat do not cook, however we do still eat. There are different methods of food preparation which are permissible, which include warming up food but not using fire.