Last week I discussed procrastination in my blog. Surprisingly, a lot of people share my bad procrastination habits. In a way, I feel happy: I am not alone, but deep inside it makes me think about the mixed blessing that the modern technology represents.
From one hand, our generation benefits strongly from instant information, served hot on our digital devices, garnished with spicy updates and packed with free subscriptions for dessert 24/7. But from the other hand, our brain and soul cannot digest the amount of ‘food for thought’ without numerous side effects.These days most people never switch off their phones, because someone might urgently call them in the middle of the night (like that telemarketing guy who called me last week barely speaking English. I greatly appreciated his courtesy call at 3 a.m. He probably wanted to change my life dramatically by selling me a lawn-mower, except that I don’t have a garden and even if I would have one, I’d never buy equipment over the phone at 3 a. m. anyway!)
I personally don’t dare to turn off my laptop, in order to access information at any time.
I won’t even say a word about checking facebook updates and incoming emails day and night. It’s as important as brushing teeth, right, guys?
So, let’s congratulate ourselves, people. We are technologically advanced. Does it make us happier and more content then the preceding generations? I doubt that.
We don’t experience the everlasting joy of nature walks with our friends and kids, because we are too lazy to leave the house with a broadband connection; and even when we go out, we always make sure to take the smartphones along, in our fear to stay disconnected for a couple of hours, God forbid.
I don’t want to sound depressing. On the contrary, I want to share with you an amazing disconnection practice I experience on a weekly basis. It’s called Shabbos.
According to Judaism, Shabbos is the holiest day of the week, commemorating the divine creation of the world. The Torah recalls the story of the creation of the world that took six days and once the world was completed, God had a day of rest, commending the Jewish nation to observe Shabbos for years to come.
The Jewish festival of Shabbos starts every Friday night when Jewish women and girls light candles and the holiday finishes once three stars appear in the sky on Saturday night.
Each Shabbos, religious Jewish men and women spend time praying in synagogues, learning Torah and enjoying festive meals in honour of Shabbos.
Shabbos is a fundamental Jewish ritual that’s been practiced for thousands of years.
Interestingly enough, many people consider religious Jews to be limited by Shabbos observance, as they cannot work on Shabbos and, imagine that, aren’t allowed to use electronic devices!
That’s exactly what I love best about Shabbos rest: the technology disconnection aspect, which means that all phones, TV-sets, computers and other information devices are switched off. No car engines are turned on either.
And that’s when miracles happen. All over the sudden, I find the time to sit with my kids and read a book.
Friends and relatives come to share a meal with my family, uninterrupted by unwanted calls and messages.
We cannot drive a car on Shabbos, so the day is not wasted on shopping. My husband and I hold hands with our toddlers as we go out to local parks where we hear birds singing, trees whispering and kids laughing.
On Shabbos I find the time to enjoy real paper books, as I cannot use my iPhone. I talk to my husband in person, ignoring Skype and I serve my beloved ones real tea with homemade cookies – forget the digital nosh form social media!
The relaxing atmosphere enables me to think about my life and to plan the future quietly. As the day of spiritual rest comes to an end, I feel energised to face the challenges of the upcoming week.
And then I turn on the laptop. And grab my iPhone. And log on facebook. I am happy to be back to century 21, but at the same time I appreciate that my religious life-style endows me with ‘technology disconnection’ of Shabbos, leaving behind the information overflow and helping me to concentrate on everlasting treasures of the luxurious, rich world of Jewish heritage and the true family values.
Interested to learn more about Shabbos? Find out more by watching my PowerPoint presentation.