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Shabbat Challenges

Shabbat Challenges

Candid thoughts on getting adjusted.


I asked people, "What is the most challenging part of Shabbat?"

The answers fell into two general categories: the challenge felt when first beginning, and a different challenge after time.


Keeping Shabbat at home with your parents who don't keep Shabbat.

Trying to separate the business week and the Shabbat. I had to sit down on Friday night and really concentrate on leaving my work behind.

Using your time wisely. There is so much more uninterrupted time on Shabbat; no phones; no shopping. It was hard to use it in a meaningful way so it's not wasted.

The davening. It's long, especially Shabbat morning.

Going to other people's homes every Shabbat and having to observe it the way they did it.

Gefilte fish. For a Sefardi girl, it's a real adjustment!

Friday nights. I used to always go out to a movie, or a party. So having a Shabbat dinner at home was a real adjustment at first.

Those long Shabbat afternoons. I didn't know what to do with myself.

Shabbat afternoon naps. I hadn't napped since before kindergarten!

All that food!

Learning to slow down.

The lack of people to share Shabbos with, and feeling out of sync with my non-Jewish friends who couldn't relate to what I was experiencing. You really need a core group for camaraderie.

It was hard meeting so many new people at shul and at people's homes. Yet, later, these people became my closest friends.

Not turning on the TV to entertain my kids.

Not smoking. Yikes!


Learning all the laws of Shabbat. The basics you can pick up pretty quick, but the rest is more complex.

Trying to make it meaningful and fun for my kids, my guests, and myself, all at the same time.

Keeping focused on what Shabbat is all about. I have to think beyond the nice clothes, the guests, the food and ask myself: What is the true spirit of Shabbat? How can I be a witness to this taste of Creation?

Observing the detailed laws, like not biting off that hangnail!

Keeping going; progressing. I know logically I should be consistently observing every Shabbat, but it's hard to make the final commitment.

Trying to convince others about how great Shabbat is!

Striking a balance of special Shabbos food, while not diverting too much from my strict weekday diet.

Using Shabbos to really elevate me spirituality.

Beginning Shabbos on time, with everything prepared: the food, the house, the kids -- and me!

Being excited that Shabbos has arrived, when I still have so much work to do. (But once Shabbos starts, I'm grateful. I realize how desperately I needed it!)


Adapted from "Friday Night and Beyond" by Lori Palatnik (Jason Aronson Pub.)

May 15, 2004

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Marissa Levenson, May 2, 2015 12:16 AM

Struggling to keep Shabbat alone

I am in need of help myself with Shabbat. I began my journey to a more religious lifestyle about 4 years ago in college. I started initially because I felt alone on a big campus, and also felt inwardly alone and the religious community looked magical to me. I thought if i became religious, I will never be alone. Then I started learning and began to enjoy what I learned and grew little by little. I wear skirts only, keep fully kosher, but am having trouble with shabbat. I keep at friends houses fine, but when I am home with my dad, who is also religious, it is difficult. We eat lunch and go to do our separate things and I feel very alone, as if that's the opposite of what shabbat is and sometimes, I watch shows on my computer. I am struggling with this. Any help?

(3) yehudit, February 11, 2014 6:22 PM


The hardest thing for me is that shabbat is the only day all my kids are home: it's my HARDEST AND MOST CHALLENGING DAY OF THE WEEK!!!!!!!! AND MY BUSIEST!!!!!!!! I actually get pretty depressed every shabbat and leading up to it am usually in a foul mood. It's not good. Truth is, I'd give up but I can't because of the kids!!! To me, right now shabbat is a real burden that I struggle immensely with. I have a lot of philosophical and spiritual issues with shabbat because of this, so I'm just trying to hold on until things get a little easier. Lets just say that when Hashem said He was giving us a treasure, he wasn't talking to mothers with a few toddlers in the house!

(2) Anonymous, December 9, 2013 11:55 PM

Try working on one thing at a time.. Real baby steps. and only add more when you feel you are truly ready. During the week, work on not doing it.. For example, when I just started, I did everything slowly. So I wanted to work on not using hot water on shabbos. What I did was that when i would wash my hands during the week, I opened the cold water and overtime I got used to doing the same on shabbos. Try your best and pray for Hashem guidance everyday. Good Luck :)

(1) Linda Leland, April 7, 2013 4:27 PM

Wouldlike to read some suggestions

I have had, and in many areas continue to have, the challenges I read in the above article. It was nice to read that I am not alone. However, I would like very much to read some suggestions or options on how to conquer these challenges. I think it would be helpful, especially to those taking baby steps to observing Shabbat. If one was not raised in this way, it's not very easy to immediately submerge oneself into all the ways of Shabbat. Little by small, I'd like to conquer them all...with everyone's help. Thank you!

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