Reality chases me down, pt. II (Coke, friends, is not enough)

I feel now, more than ever, that reality (read: my ability to adhere to the srtictures I want to adhere to) is coming into conflict with my ideology and hopes for my ritual life. In Spain, I came a across a familiar problem, but gave it more thought than I had before.

On a normal Shabat, here at Drew, or at home in Austin, I mark Shabat by going to services on Friday night and Saturday morning, lighting candles, ignoring pressing homework-related matters, drinking Coke, and doing things I find relaxing.

But then there come those Shabatot which are situated between vacation days. There is no homework to ignore. And in Spain, there were no services to go to. So I was left with candles, drinking Coke, and being relaxed. Consider that I’d been pretty relaxed all week because, hell, I was on vacation, and you realize that the only things I was left with were candles, which last for a only a short portion of Shabat–and Coke. And Coke, friends, is not enough.

Which means that I’ve got a problem. It means that in the midst of an already relaxed vacation week, Shabat has almost no value, beyond the additional caffeine it brings into my diet.

The only solution to this problem that I can see, dear blogosphites, is a little frightening. If you think about the things I listed above that I do on Shabat, you will notice that they are mostly positive–things that I DO do. This stands in contrast to a traditional understanding of Shabat, which consists of a list of things that one DOES NOT do.

And so I am frightened to discover that to achieve the desired effect, I must limit myself on Shabat. Where does the limitation come from? Shall I refrain from cash? From light switches or e-mail? Riding in cars or carrying things? It is a most troubling problem indeed.

9 Responses to Reality chases me down, pt. II (Coke, friends, is not enough)

  1. friend December 10, 2008 at 6:59 pm #

    you would be surprised how liberating it is to not use email, or to take a walk instead of riding in cars while observing Shabbat. try it one week.

  2. davidamwilensky December 10, 2008 at 7:15 pm #

    i believe it. i just wonder if i can do it, friend.

  3. Kelly December 10, 2008 at 7:25 pm #

    Welcome to the ongoing Jewish identity crisis I’ve been dealing with all semester.

  4. Rich December 10, 2008 at 11:19 pm #

    When Morgan and I were simultaneously unemployed, kedushat hayom was a bit of a challenge. Oh, we had our Friday night ritual down-pat, but Saturday, since we were not yet affiliated, was more of a challenge. We made it a point to study God’s word on Friday Night, and God’s work on Saturday, which is to say we made a point to do something in nature.

    As for dropping email; Rabbi Yoffie has suggested that, and its one of the better ideas I’ve heard from him. It’s also harder than it sounds.

  5. GSM December 12, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    I enjoy shutting down the computer for Shabbat–no email, no Facebook, no surfing, no looking up movie times…. Drawing that line makes not doing actual job-related work one day a week much easier, too, when you get to that point in future jobs.

    BTW, Is my eyesight OK, or is it snowing in this blog?

  6. davidamwilensky December 13, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    Oh, it’s snowing alright. A special WordPress option that run through the new year. I’m so pissed that it’s not snowing here yet that I turned the feature on. At least it can snow in my slice of virtual real estate.

  7. Chris_B December 19, 2008 at 3:03 am #

    Even without the basic question of should you avoid melochos during shabbat, what about prayer? Check your siddur, there’s enough you can do w/o a minyan.

  8. Kate February 18, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    You could try davening by yourself, you know, if you’re that eager to find a positive marker of Shabbat that doesn’t require a community…

    (reading your archives tonight, just found your blog through BZ)

  9. davidamwilensky February 19, 2009 at 4:41 am #

    Glad to have you, Kate. Of course, you’re totally right. I have found however, as I believe I’ve written somewhere else on this blog, that my attempts at regularly scheduled solitary davening are unsustainable.