One of the chapters of the book that I most enjoyed writing looks at digital Sabbaths, and how to make them work. So I perked up at Quartz writer Deena Shanker’s piece about her experience disconnecting during the Sabbath.
The rules have taken time to define, but here is where they stand: No phone and no computer. Television is allowed, but no streaming because it would require a phone or computer. No spending money (except occasionally coffee) and no transportation other than my own two feet. The underlying point is simple—no working.
This is a common start: unless you follow some strict set of rules that someone else has already laid down, or doing it as part of a bigger movement, you need to figure out just what it is that you’re getting away from. For most people, it’s behavior more than specific devices. For me, television being okay, but streaming video would be out, mainly because I can spend a ridiculous amount of time just browsing categories rather than actually watching something.
Here is what the best 25 hours of my week looks like: I leave the office early on Fridays, stop at the supermarket to pick up what I need to make Shabbos dinner, and head home. I turn off my phone at the appointed time and simply enjoy the act of cooking, instead of checking my email or answering texts about what time people should come over. My roommate cleans up and sets a beautiful Shabbos table. Friends come over at a prearranged time, or maybe a little late or a little early, it doesn’t really matter. They bring wine and dessert and funny stories and each week, I let one decorate the hummus with olive oil, paprika and za’atar. We eat a big meal, as much as we want. Nobody takes their phone out at the table—not because there’s a rule against it but because there’s no reason to….
Walking without a phone, of course, also means paying real attention to my surroundings. Whether it’s the person I’m walking with or those passing me by, actually listening and looking for prolonged periods of time brings back waves of nostalgia for a simpler time while simultaneously feeling entirely new. (I noticed, for example, in the unseasonably warm early fall that see-through clothing is apparently very in right now. Everyone in Williamsburg is wearing see-through clothing!)
Read the whole piece (and Shanker’s earlier piece about deciding to start observing Shabbos again), when you’re not on your own sabbath.