The following article was severely slammed by my Chassidic Jewish friend. He said it's forbidden for Gentiles to keep the Sabbath. I figure God is hardly going to be upset with me for spending a day praying to Him, but hey.I did this as an experiment and I didn't mean to offend anyone. If this worries you don't read the article.
I have a friend that's a Seventh Day Adventist and she believes it is very important to keep the Sabbath, so I decided to try it. I decided that I would make my own rules based on the scriptures. The law says you shouldn't work from Sundown on a Friday to Sundown on a Saturday. For me this is unworkable so I decided to make it 6 PM to 6 PM instead so I could have dinner over with by six on the Friday, and could make reasonable excuses to delay making dinner until after six on a Saturday. So far so good. I also decided that since electricity and cars save work, I'd be able to use them. I also decided that anything I felt was fun would not be classified as work- therefore I was allowed to go on all day hikes up steep cliffs if I wanted to. What I wasn't allowed was to do anything that could be classified as a chore. Shopping falls under this category. Emergency clean-ups would be allowed- for instance if the cat threw up in the hallway. I kind of liked the idea of keeping a day special- it reminded me of Sundays while I was growing up.
So, with that basic framework I set out to keep the Sabbath in my own way. I thought I'd document it because it would give me insight into a way of thinking that was different to my own. I don't usually worry about following rules- I decide things on a case to case basis as they comes up. I know that if I do anything mean to someone I'll be immediately punished, so I don't usually succumb to that kind of temptation. Of course there are things like J-walking that don't hurt anyone, but I figure it is OK as long as I can justify it. For instance, in Sydney it is safer to J-walk than use the pedestrian crossing because drivers just don't stop for you and it is better to know that than to trust them to obey the law.
Anyway, thinking about trying to keep the Sabbath, what I find hard is waiting for sundown on Saturday. There's always something I wish I could do but which falls into the forbidden category. I kind of get impatient for time to speed up. The Friday is also stressful, as I race to finish all the chores in time. Still, after having done it for six or seven weeks in a row, I'm getting used to it and learning how to enjoy the day. I use it to pray and to interact with the kids. I notice I tend to work twice as hard on the Sunday, not because I have to but because I want to- which is because of all that pent up longing to get things done on Saturday- which is very strange for me. One other thing I've noticed is it makes me hesitate before I do anything, even on a weekday, while I think about whether it is the Sabbath or not. Basically it has heightened my awareness of what I am doing and when I am doing it. It also makes me feel bad when I break a rule. I feel like God is angry at me and I feel the need to repent. I also found myself wrestling with the finer points of the rules. For instance, according to my rules it is OK to reheat food in a microwave and it is allowed to use the toaster. I'm allowed to put Ketchup on my hot dog, but I'm not allowed to mix ingredients together to make egg salad, or such. But these basic rules don't tell me what to do in the case of, say, instant noodles. Yes, I'm allowed to boil water in a kettle, yes I'm allowed to put noodles in a bowl, yes, I can pour the water into the bowl, but am I allowed to cut open and add the contents of the two flavour sachets? Isn't that preparing food and mixing ingredients? Or is it like putting the ketchup on a hot dog? Who knows? Who decides? Does God care? Just this last Saturday I found that the only kind of bread we had in the house was Turkish bread. We always eat it with a dip made of sour cream mixed with cucumber, garlic and a crushed soup cube, and I craved it so I made it, knowing full well I was breaking the rules. After eating some of it I felt terribly depressed and prayed for forgiveness. The sadness didn't go away until I decided on a punishment- I wasn't allowed to have any more until after sundown.By then the bread and the dip had been gobbled up and I was sorry, but I felt justice had been done. The weird thing is, looking at the big picture, I shouldn't have been focusing on the food at all,considering the dip only took a few minutes to make. Instead I should have been focusing on God. The incident showed me how hard it is to keep even the simplest rules, let alone the ones the Jews have to follow. It also humbled me and showed me how much I fall short. If I can't keep the Sabbath with the lenient rules I myself came up with, how could I be trusted with anything more important?
I'm glad I don't have to keep the Sababth and I didn't after this experiment. Focussing on rules is definitely not the way to go for me.