I recently asked our Hillel Rabbi the question: "Did God really create the world in six 24-hour days as we know them?"
The more I thought about this question, the more I realized that the Torah is not a history book or a science book; rather, it is a theological book that is supposed to teach us about how to live as human beings in this world today. It's about the meaning of this story and the lessons that it teaches us.
God is something unknown and mysterious to me and I honestly do not comprehend what God is or if there even is a God. But what I know is, that man is what is on earth, and to be productive, man needs rest. The ratio of six work days to one rest day is interesting, and now society has even altered that to five work days to two rest days.
To recharge, we need to rest. And the way we do this is by refraining from work and taking a step away from it. But is this truly enough? Is it enough to not go to work? In this 24/7 world that we have, we are constantly communicating through email, checking our Facebook news feeds, and texting. This tires us out as well, even though we may not admit it. We need more rest than simply not working. The idea of Shabbat in Judaism is more than simply not working, rather it is breaking free from the norm. We are supposed to separate Shabbat from the week. As we say during Havdallah: "Praised to you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who distinguishes between the holy and ordinary..." We make a separation, we ensure there is a difference between Shabbat and the rest of the week. And it is not only through refraining from going to work.
To fully experience Shabbat, we need to unplug. We need to truly breathe and sit back and stop trying to stay connected all of the time because staying connected takes a lot of energy in addition to working. We put too much energy into our electronics. And that has truly affected us as humans. It is said that people are most effective working a forty hour work week. Being connected, though, has increased that work week and has decreased our effectiveness.
My wish for this congregation is that we truly come to understand the meaning of Shabbat, the meaning of rest, and the meaning of holiness. By unplugging and truly resting and taking a breath, we can experience Shabbat in the way that it was meant to be experienced. We need to take a breath and look around us and appreciate the world.
My Rabbi's answer was that it doesn't matter. What matters is how we live today and that we do experience Shabbat. We need rest, but it's not simply rest. It's stopping, breathing, and experiencing Shabbat. I wish everyone a sweet Shabbat.
Gideon Horberg is a senior at the University of Illinois majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He grew up at Beth Emet and was involved in BESSY and NFTY-CAR growing up. Gideon really enjoys playing guitar, thinking about and designing new tools, and improving the world.