Limitless Time to Focus on God

Yael Eckstein  |  June 11, 2021

dinner table with Shabbat dinner including challah and candles

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
     let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
     and extol him with music and song.
— Psalm 95:1-2

During this month, I’m sharing with you weekly devotions based on my book, Generations to Generations: Passing on the Legacy of Faith to Our Children. These devotions are tied to the biblical observance of the Sabbath, Shabbat, and exploring the many lessons it has for us today.

I grew up in a very loving family. We enjoyed an abundance of love, but like many families today, we were very busy. My father woke up at 5 a.m. for prayer and Bible study, and then left for work so that he could be at the office by 7 a.m. My mother started her day a bit later, but once she got us off to school, she went to work as well.

My sisters and I had long days at a school that taught both secular subjects and Jewish studies. In addition, my parents dedicated their time and talents to volunteering in our community. My sisters and I participated in Jewish youth groups and after-school activities. Our lives were blessedly wonderful — and hectic.

In a sea of busyness, Shabbat was — and is — the anchor of my life.

Limitless Time to Focus on God

No matter how busy our weeks were or how much my father had traveled — no matter what — he made it a priority that on Shabbat we were all together as a family. My mother cooked our favorite foods, baked challah (the traditional Sabbath bread), and cleaned our home from top to bottom. My father often played music to set the mood — traditional Jewish songs related to the Sabbath. As sundown drew closer, the tempo in the house quickened as we finished our final preparations.

Then, just before sunset, everything stopped and quiet set in. The music was turned off, the cooking was done, the house was ready. I stood with my mother as she lit the Shabbat candles and recited the traditional blessing welcoming the Sabbath. We kissed each other and wished each other Shabbat shalom, a Sabbath of peace.

My father left for synagogue, and I often went with him. We joined our community in soulful singing and worship. Friday night Shabbat prayers begin: “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song” (Psalm 95:1-2). Shabbat gave me time each week to reflect on God’s glory and His blessings.

Shabbat gave us permission to rest, reflect, and let go of our worries and fill our souls with godliness. Around the Shabbat table, we were unbound by the constraints of weekdays and had limitless time to focus on God and each other. Jewish sages taught that the Sabbath is “a taste of the world to come.” Indeed, for us, it was — and is — a little taste of paradise.

Your Turn:

Share the lessons from Shabbat with your family with our new Generation to Generation Workbook, filled with Bible stories, discussion questions, and hands-on activities, specifically for Christian families. Download your complimentary copy today!

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