I’ve been trying to make time to say morning prayers with Netanel this week, since he’s been home. Although I spend most of my day praying – which is to say that I am constantly asking for guidance and help, and saying thank you, etc,… I haven’t been very diligent lately about saying any canonized prayers. So it’s been a nice opportunity for me too.
This morning I stood up for a part of the Tefilla and Netanel actually lay down on the couch.
“Netanel,” says I, “you shouldn’t lay down when your davening, it’s not respectful to Hashem.”
“Why not?” retorts Netanel.
“Well who are we saying these things to? Hashem is all around us all time, right?” Tani nods. He’s sitting up now. “Hashem is the power that creates the world, that guides our lives, and gives us everything we need, and when we say tefillot, we are putting ourselves into Hashem’s presence to ask for all that we need and want.”
“Mommy, but when does Hashem rest?” He asked. I understand the question! I mean, that sounds like a lot of work!
“On Shabbat,” I answered. “Right? On the seventh day, Hashem rests. And so do we.”
And then the epiphany happened. On Shabbat, we not only rest physically by not doing things that are considered work. (The list is pretty specific, which is why I used that particular wording.) We are also commanded to refrain from speaking or even thinking about non-Shabbat related things. Like business, or what we want to do or accomplish in the coming week, or even sports. We ‘re not even supposed to request anything from Hashem on Shabbat! The main prayer, called the “Amida” is completely different on Shabbat, instead of the normal 19 supplications, there are none. Only praise and thanks. On Shabbat we reconnect with our Soul, that little part of Godliness that exists within us.
So I answer Netanel’s innocent question, and I’m thinking, “Oh, Duh!” Hashem “works” all the time for us. Listening to our prayers, ordering the world so that we can achieve our desires, and fulfill our purpose. But on Shabbat, Hashem is resting, recuperating, and reconnecting with Creation, just as we are reconnecting with our Creator.
So, no, we should not be talking about business, about stocks, about movies, or plans for the week. We should not be thinking about the activities and requirements of the week to come, because aside from detracting from the spiritual nature of the day, it actually disturbs God’s rest! Anthropomorphically speaking, of course, when we make requests of our Creator, even in the form of dreaming about our heart’s desires, that essentially causes Hashem to “work” to answer those requests.
So thanks to Netanel, in an hour, when Shabbat starts, I’ll be much more sensitive to what it means to have a Day of Rest. And I can’t wait!