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The Stop Button

The Stop Button

How I got out of the never-ending cycle of work, struggle and stress.


Two years ago, I started a transcribing job, where I listen to Torah tapes and type up the lessons. At first, I used a machine with a foot pedal which would allow me to stop, start and rewind the tapes at the touch of my toes. Then, as technology progressed, I was given a computer program to use. I no longer had the foot pedal to rely upon for my stops and rewinds. Now it seemed all I could do was just listen and type.

When I wanted to stop and go back, I had to close and re-open each program, and often the tape would start again at the beginning. This was very time-consuming, so I set the tape to play on the absolutely slowest setting, and as the teacher's voice droned on painfully slowly, I began to type furiously. And it's amazing how fast I needed to type to keep up with this slow voice. My job was becoming quite nerve-wracking, frustrating, and challenging. I would type as fast as I possibly could, which was never quite fast enough, and started feeling more and more stressed out.

One day the computer tech guy came and showed me the "stop" button. Right then my whole world changed. It was like drinking a refreshing sip of cold water on a hot summer day. What a relief!

Funny thing is, it had been there for me all along, but I just didn't know about it.

With the stop button, all the pressure and stress was suddenly alleviated. If only life had a stop button as well. When you pressed it, the whole world just stood still. Everything was done, accomplished, created, and all you had to do was just be. No obligations, no responsibilities. A complete state of rest and relaxation, where everyone was free to be with each other, with themselves, at peace. A break from the fast-paced everyday life. What if all the chaos in life could suddenly stop, and when you start it again, things are suddenly so much easier?

Wouldn't it be great to find such a thing?

Step Back and Enjoy

The stop button I've found is called Shabbat. When life is crazy busy, and it seems that even in my sleep I'm dreaming about work and responsibility, I always have Shabbat. Each week, no matter what, I have my 24-plus hours of "stop." No work, no thinking about work, no problems, no chaos. Just a blissful break, where the food is ready, the clothing is set out, and my batteries recharge.

My grandmother lost her husband at a young age and had to work two jobs to support her family. She says, "I could never afford a real vacation. But Shabbat is my vacation, and I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. Each week, I get my peace and tranquility -- no matter what is happening in the world."

When I first stumbled upon the idea of actually taking on Shabbat in my life, the hardest thing for me was to give up the control. You mean I'm not in charge of my life? I can't make the decisions today? For a whole day, I have to let go and allow life to just happen?

But when I was finally able to let go, it was the best freedom I had ever felt in my life. The realization that I don't have to think I am in control that day -- because in truth I'm not really in control any other day, either. There is God above me, who loves me more than I can ever fathom, and He is in charge. And although every other day I can pretend to be in charge of my life, for just one day each week I acknowledge that there is a higher power in my life, guiding me, loving me, and taking care of me.

Each day of the week, my life is dedicated to work, creation, and making things happen in the world. I consider myself to be highly productive and efficient. (I hope my boss feels the same way!) But on Shabbat, I allow myself to step back and enjoy.

Without this day of rest, I know my life would be like it "used to be." I was stuck in a never-ending cycle of work, struggle and stress. With my cell phone attached to me at all times, I was in a constant state of alert. Now I have my refreshing vacation each and every week, allowing the power of Shabbat to infuse my entire week.

A co-worker of mine recently looked at me and sighed, "It never ends!" I smiled and said, "Actually, you just need to know how to press the stop button."

July 9, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 8

(8) kevin asher, September 3, 2005 12:00 AM

what can I say.

you know,My self, I am not jewish.However I have read many articles listened even to jewish music, I stand amazed at the brilliance of the messages, that each person sets out to make a reader, understand the logic of what the writer is trying to convey.some of these articles are funny, some are very tragic.I sit and I try to understand the logic of the holocaustI just read about.I read about the love shown of the children in an English village,once understanding was gained by the villages of a way of life the children lived.How easy things become when you see with eyes that are actually opened!!bravo.

(7) Miryam, August 1, 2005 12:00 AM

Great Article

Ayelet, GREAT article, thank you!
Shabbat IS a day to rest and relax, Mr. Harry Pearle, as it is commanded by the Almighty. 'Six days you shall work but on the seventh, you shall rest. You, household even the servants in your home, and the foreigner'.

(6) Debbie, July 15, 2005 12:00 AM

Very inspiring!

b"h It is true that Shabbos is like having a stop button for life. I was trying to explain how amazing Shabbat is to my brother and will be emailing this article to him after this comment is done ;-).
Thank you so much for having such inspiriational, educational and useful articles!
Happy Shabbos,

(5) David, July 14, 2005 12:00 AM

Ayelet you're articles are so insightful

You're the best, I just learn so much reading all your articles.

(4) Harry Pearle, July 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Use Shabbat to EDIT Life and Turn the TIDE

In Kedoshim, we read: (Lev.19.3) ’You shall fear every man his mother and his father, and you shall keep my sabbaths, I am the Lord, your G-d.’ ( This is in the reverse order of the 10 Commandments.)

I think this suggests something about value of Shabbat. Shabbat is a time when we are all commanded to press the ‘STOP BUTTON’. When we drive a car, we have to stop, first, before, we can put the car into reverse.

In Kedoshim, I think the Torah is saying this. Heed the words of your parents to reverse your behavior, but first stop what you are habitually working at.

As I see it, Shabbat does not guarantee us a time of rest and relaxation, as the author suggests. I believe that we should practice relaxation, every day. But it is only on Shabbat that we have a day when we all stop and reverse ourselves, doing Teshuvah, recognizing that Hashem is in control. We press the STOP button so we can edit, so we can turn the tide (edit in reverse). Shabbat Shalom.

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