Our lives can get so hectic and hurried sometimes. With long hours at work, varied responsibilities at home, errands, bills, the breakneck speed of life set by modern technologies, and a host of other demands—at times, we need moments just to catch our breath.
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” wrote Ira Gershwin in Porgy and Bess. Even in the year 2012, hopefully there is still some truth to this great lyric. If the livin’ is not easy, perhaps at least, it’s easier. Our burdens may lighten. The pace may slow a few steps. Nature may beckon us toward repose. These are all things that we desperately need during our fast and frenetic lives.
For thousands of years, Judaism has recognized such a need for rest and renewal in our lives. That is the purpose of Shabbat. On Shabbat, we let go of the burden of labor and constant doing so that our bodies and souls can be refreshed and renewed.
One day Rebbe Nachman of Breslov looked out his window and saw his friend scurrying about in the marketplace. His friend was running this way and that way, frantically engaged in his labors and responsibilities. After watching his friend carry on this way throughout most of the day, Rebbe Nachman opened his window and called out to his friend. “Joseph, have you seen the sky today?” Joseph stopped for a moment, and replied. “What! The sky! Who’s got time for that. I’m busy taking care of business.” To which Rebbe Nachman responded, “Joseph, look around you. All of the people you see here running around the marketplace, including yourself, will be gone in less than a hundred years. Everyone and everything in this marketplace will pass away. So why not take the time to look at the sky?”
During these summer months, when the livin’ is easy (easier), may we take the time to look at the sky.