Rest in God

Yael Eckstein  |  April 21, 2024

Yael blessing on Shabbat

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
— Psalm 62:5-6

This devotion on the beloved Psalms is based on my book, Generation to Generation: Passing on the Legacy of Faith to Our Children, and explores one of the many lessons that Shabbat, the Sabbath, has for us today.

For me, Shabbat is a welcome respite from my hectic schedule in my many roles as a mother, wife, and president and CEO of a major nonprofit organization. I thank God that Shabbat arrives every seventh day. It is usually around then that our family needs a break and a reminder that life is not about being busy. As a mother, I feel the need for a Sabbath day more than I ever did before. It is the one day a week that we “unplug,” so that we can connect with each other.

As the sun sets on Friday, my daughters join me as we light the Sabbath candles to usher in this sacred time. Traditionally, we light a candle for every member of our family. Jewish tradition teaches that candle-lighting time is an ideal time for prayer, and so the first thing my children see me do as the Sabbath enters is pray for them. We wrap our arms around each other as we sing and pray. 

Before we sit down to eat our delicious meal, we bless our children. It is Jewish tradition to bestow the priestly blessing onto our children on Shabbat. We lay our hands over each child’s head, starting with the oldest, and bless them. In this way, each child feels noticed, cared for, and loved. Next, like most Jewish families, we sing the words of Proverbs 31 in praise of the woman of the home. It’s a teachable moment for our children when we take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work that goes into maintaining a home. Finally we bless the Shabbat over a cup of wine and begin the meal with challah bread.

These Friday night dinners are our time to ask each child about his or her week. We celebrate the highlights and sympathize with the challenges. It’s a time to discuss the portion from the Torah that is read that week, and what they have learned in school from the Scriptures. In between courses, we sing Sabbath songs, some of which are hundreds of years old. There are no time limits to our Shabbat meals. No one is rushing through the meal to get to another activity or to watch a TV program. We are all fully present with those at our table.

Rest in God

I do not know what kind of world my children will live in when they are adults. Maybe it will be even more saturated with the latest technological distractions and even faster-paced. However, what I do know is that no matter what life has in store for them, my children will always have Shabbat. They will always have that refuge, that “island of time,” to rest, to stop, to recalibrate, and to refocus on what is truly important so that they can live meaningful, purposeful, godly lives.

Your Turn:

Find an “island of time” each week during which you can be refreshed and rested in God.