Shabbat: Finding Community, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

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Y"K day 5772

(Yom Kippur coinciding with Shabbat this year)

Shabbat: Finding Community, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

There is striking disconnect between all the technological progress on the one hand, and the lack of human happiness on the other. How come is there so much of one and so little of the other? With all the world has to offer, why are so many of us walking around unhappy?

That is the central question of our time.

And the solution is Shabbat. Indeed Shabbat is the remedy to the two greatest challenges of the 21st century.

With Yom Kippur coinciding with Shabbat this year, this speech resonates with soul-stirring stories and humor, each designed to promote Shabbat observance. We explore Shabbat as a refuge from the bombardment of advertising. Throughout the week, a thousand times a day, in a million forms, calling to us from billboards, magazines, web sites, and telemarketers, Madison Avenue tells us: You are not enough. You do not have enough. You are not happy. You have not achieved the American Dream.

Yet on Shabbat we stop working, stop acquiring and spending, and instead learn to cherish what we have, and not be diminished by what we lack. Shabbat says, get off the endless treadmill of consumerism and get yourself over to Shul. Make space for those people and values dearest to your heart. For six days a week run on the treadmill of productivity as fast as you can, but on the seventh day, stop the desperate striving for more.

A remarkable story by best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell demonstrates how Shabbat is not only good for your soul—your cardiovascular health may depend on it.

Shabbat provides us with camaraderie and a support system, a community. It summons us away from self-centeredness, towards one another, towards communal celebration that strengthens and uplifts everyone, turning strangers into friends. This last point is demonstrated by a touching story, with a Chabad connection, involving a New York Times writer whose plane landed in a strange city minutes before Shabbat.

The speech includes practical ideas on how Jews on all levels of observance can begin adopting Shabbat observance, including, for some, joining "the JFK Club."

We conclude with a powerful story told by a famous, 19th century Norwegian author. And the moving sequel, decades later that underscores how the transformative power of Shabbat guarantees the eternity of the Jewish people.

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