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Shabbat Challenge Lab Experiment 2 - Shabbat Unplugged

04/13/2015 09:00:38 AM


Shabbat Challenge Lab
Experiment Two: Shabbat Unplugged

Our next experiment is simple. Pick a technology or electronic device that you use during the week and turn it off or put it away. I highly recommend you start with something that, no matter how much you like, you also know causes you stress. Perhaps your laptop computer? Or email? Or maybe even a smartphone?


Shabbat is meant to be a time when we refrain from work and live in the present moment. Let this Shabbat be an opportunity to explore the freedom that comes with turning off just one device or type of technology. Set an intention as to when it will be turned off and when you plan to turn it back on. You might choose all of Shabbat or just Friday night or Saturday morning.


Both what you choose and how long should feel like a gentle stretch. This is just for fun and learning, so notice how your plan works. What is pleasant about it and easy? What is not so pleasant or challenging? What might you do differently if you tried it again?


For inspiration please read this piece by Zach Lipner about turning off email.


We Are Not Slaves - FreEmail


Time seems to move so quickly these days. The pace of life, specifically the pace of the workweek has accelerated with the introduction of technology. There is a curious contradiction here: we are always wired – even when we are wireless. We never really relax, never take in the sights, sounds and feelings of life. We just blow through life, one day after another. I imagine that the slaves in Egypt felt the same way…always working, struggling to survive in a world that allowed no rest.


But we are not slaves. We are free; free to choose how to spend our time. Yet, all too often, we allow ourselves to be slaves to time. The 24/7 work week, kids week, family week, home repair week have taken over our lives. We live in the moment and that moment is dictated to us by our cell phones and computers. (Does this remind you of a Twilight Zone episode?”).In my opinion, the key to breaking this cycle is about relationships, not with people, but with our phones, e-mails and social networks.


About 5 years ago, I made the decision to abstain from e-mails and other forms of electronic communication on Shabbos. As many of you know, I truly work in a 24/7 business. The hospital never closes and I am expected to be available all of the time. However, that does not mean that I have to engage the business. What I found is that more than 99% of the time, the e-mails, texts and calls can wait.


It took a little getting used to. That sense of control is hard to relinquish. The paranoia that the business might be looking for me took some time to abate. The curiosity that I might be missing something important was not easy to control. But I did it and my colleagues and friends understand and respect that preference. Now, as I go through my week, I can’t wait to turn off my phone on Shabbos. I look forward to disconnecting each week. Looking back over these years, the reality has been that I am not so important. Oh well, my self-esteem will survive.


Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik said “In physics, time is quantified, measured with a clock. But pure time, real time, cannot be quantified; it is pure quality“  Shabbos for me is pure time. It is not about doing, it is about being. Being with family, being with friends, learning some Torah and Talmud, listening to the ballgame on the radio, floating in my pool, taking a nap and not being interrupted by the phone, text or e-mail.


What a wonderful experience of not being a slave to time.

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Sat, June 15 2024 9 Sivan 5784