So, what can we do to observe a biblical Shabbos – not a Kosher Shabbos in the sense of the Talmud, Mishna and the other Rabbinical writings – but one that is according to the scriptures? Around my home this comes up almost every Saturday. Normally, my son and I go to Temple on Friday evening then come home for a movie and bed. Saturday during the day is the problem… What to do when there are no services and the television is sooooo alluring! Probably we need to look at scripture and see what G-d has to say and how it applies to life today.
I covered most of the scripture in Shabbos Part III (and I updated most of the scripture references today) so I shan’t list them again here. Suffice it to say that the Most Holy One takes a very dim view of doing anything that might be construed as work on His holy day. What you can and can not do, what you should and should not do, is (to me) fairly explicit. But, if you have a question you should consult your Rabbi, your Pastor, your Priest – someone who can help. BUT, and this is extremely important, that person should believe that the Bible is the very Word of G-d, not just a book of fairy tales to entertain children on Sunday morning. Some might believe that it is not inerrant and, from my point of view, that is OK if they believe that it contains G-d’s word and is to be followed.
So, that being said, what should a person DO on the Sabbath? (Remember, this blog is a guide and not the Word of G-d.) There is an excellent Guide for Shabbos that has all 39 things that should not be done by Observant or Orthodox Jews. For those who are Christian or not-very-observant there still are a few things that we should and should not do.
- You should attend services at your selected Church, Temple or Synagogue.
- You should not do whatever is your normal work.
- You should read the bible to see what G-d has to say to you.
- You should light no fires that were not lit before the Sabbath.
- You should not extinguish a fire on the Sabbath that was lit before Sabbath. (Not to be confused with putting out a house fire or some such!)
- You should not watch TV nor listen to the radio if someone is working there.
- You can watch TV DVD, movie, a TV show or something like that or play music that you have previously recorded.
- Even if you favorite football team is playing should you watch TV. And recording it to watch at a later time is to defeat the very purpose of not watching.
- You should not work at anything that is your normal work.
- Building a home for someone else (for free) is perfectly fine.
- Sitting with someone who is ill (for free) or helping someone complete a task (for free) that is not their normal work is OK.
- Do not hire someone to do something for you on the Sabbath. Note that the Hebrew translation in the JPS version says that you should not cause anyone in your settlement to work and, today, your settlement is the world itself.
Above all, you must decide what G-d wants you to do or not do on His day. What is more important? Watching TV or obeying G-d? I do believe that if there is an emergency, you should take care of it. But remember this; G-d is not a fool and will not be mocked. He knows every inclination of your heart so that if you try to fool Him then you are fooling no one but yourself. However, lets’ look in more detail at just a couple of these. Not watching TV or radio IF SOMEONE IS WORKING THERE. I would think that listening to music from a 24-hour channel on TV would be fine – nobody is working there and it was programmed days or months in advance. However, someone has to keep the station on the air so we are, in effect, causing someone to work. Frankly, I can’t think of a single instance where a radio or TV station is left on the air with no one watching or working. BUT, if you find one, then feel free to watch or listen.
Watching a DVD or listening to pre-recorded music should be fine. But singing as a family or church or temple group is even better. If you belong to a gun club, like myself and my son, then going to the gun range is OK since it is an all volunteer group and no one is actually working. We are just “hanging out” and enjoying each other’s company.
I used working on a home for someone else as just an example of many activities that could be done that are for good of someone else. Helping balance a checkbook is work (it is work for the other person) but writing something to praise G-d is not work. (Even though writing two or more letters is considered forbidden by Orthodox.) Orthodox consider braiding your hair as forbidden since it is a form of weaving. I don’t go quite that far. Personal hygiene should be practiced every day and even more just prior and during Shabbos.
You see, we, all of us, like to consider ourselves as middle-of-the-road persons. If someone is more restrictive than ourselves then they are too right-wing and too conservative. If someone is less restrictive than ourselves then they are too left-wing and too liberal. That being said, this whole thing, this blog, this page, is dedicated to trying to explain the sanctity and holiness of our Shabbos, our day of rest, our day of communing with the Almighty to my family and to my extended family throughout the world. So, while I might not be in agreement with Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed or Messianic Judaism, I would like to think that I am in agreement with what G-d has given us in the bible that I consider to contain the Holy Word of G-d. Thanks for listening… :-)