What happens if the Sabbath is boring?

Judith Shulevitz says in her new book - and everywhere else she makes her thoughts known - that the Sabbath is an island of tranquility, balm to the torn soul, etc., etc. Yes, but what happens when the Sabbath is boring?

I wonder if the Sabbathian (that's the person who can operate within Shulevitz's permissive, suggested boundaries) has a better answer to the question than the Sabbatarian (that's a more law-bound Sabbath observer, like me). The Sabbathian can say: if you're bored, that's the point! Boredom is something modern people try to escape from, while the Sabbath reminds us that boredom is the absence of things that should not be there anyway. We should not be buzzed and pinged, and their absence should leave space for a mysterium tremendum, not a grande ennui.

But - on the other hand - maybe the Sabbatarians have a better answer. If the Sabbath is boring - well, that's your fault! (Im davar reik hu - mikem: if it's an empty thing, whose fault is that?) The point of the Sabbath is finally eschatological, not sociological. There can be societies which are just, pure, and balanced, and wholly secular, without any need whatsoever of some artificial day of rest. (Indeed, secularists in America and Israel might legitimately scoff at Shulevitz's Rousseauvian naivete.) But no society - on the mystical Jewish view - can have the piece of eternity which the Sabbath affords. Only eternity itself, which is entirely Sabbath.

If you are mystical enough, that eternity could be vouchsafed even if you are on Blogger and Twitter and all the rest of them all the time. As long as you have a direct connection Upstairs.

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