Before I understood the true meaning and the blessings of the Sabbath, it was more like an arduous religious ritual observance. And as an adolescent, I recall at the end of just about every Sabbath I came down with a terrible migraine headache.
Research on the anthropology and psychology of religion have confirmed the psychological impact and mental health implications of ritual observance.
Sabbath is not about rituals or a litany of restrictive dos and don’ts. Sabbath was intended to help people, not burden them.
The Bible says it best: Sabbath was made for man and not the other way around (Mark 2:27). Meaning the sabbath was made for our good, and not our hurt. For the good of our souls (spiritual, mental, psychological renewal); for the good of our bodies (physical rest and restoration); for the good of our communities (connecting families, friends, society); and for the good of our world (socially, culturally, environmentally).
The world is US. Therefore, what we do at the individual level has a ripple effect. I believe God’s intent behind the Sabbath was to heal the world/us and keep it/us healthy.
Imagine if each week there’s the opportunity to recenter ourselves; to reconnect with family and friends; to truly REST; to have dedicated-unrushed worship time to commune with the Divine God; and, to truly understand and appreciate the connection between Sabbath-keeping and nature. Well, that is what Sabbath is! And it is accessible to each of us.
This kind of transformation at the personal level over time would have a profound healing effect on the world.
Scientific and empirical research prove that when we set aside the ritualistic approach to Sabbath, we open ourselves up to holistic health benefits that can contribute to our well-being as individuals.
The benefits include longevity (up to 10 years added to lifespan); few deadly diseases; more healthy years of life; better mental health; and, better physical health.
However, Sabbath was never intended to be about me, the individual, but about US, the community. The celebration of sabbath should synchronize us with others—me>> family>> friends>> community>> society>> earth—for a ripple effect of transformation.
Shabbat Shalom. May you find the spiritual, psychological, social, physical, cultural, and environmental health benefits of Sabbath for yourself and your community at large.
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You may also like: the tranquility of Sabbath peace; the blessings of Sabbath worship; the refreshing of Sabbath rest; those Selah moments of pause like mini-Sabbaths that can be taken throughout the week; the joy of Sabbath reflection; and, the harmony between humanity and nature that is affirmed in the Sabbath grace.
Thank you for reading.