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Shabbat Challenges

May 9, 2009 | by Lori Palatnik

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.)

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