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How Should You Treat a Sabbath Keeper?

A lot of people have asked me about Shabbat from the perspective of those who do not observe Shabbat...meaning, how does one navigate through the details of being friends with Sabbath-keepers when you are not one? I find this incredibly admirable that people would care to be respectful of this, and I honour the people who have inquired about this to me in this way.

The Sabbath is the time (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) when a Sabbath keeper rests, joins peacefully with family, ceases all creating, remains in a place of harmony and celebration, focuses on the Torah, and enjoys being set apart from the activities we must do on the other 6 days.

What does this look like for you in terms of what to expect from a Sabbath Keeper on the Sabbath?

This is easy to answer, actually. Think of a day that is important to you. Let's say Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are important to you and you want to keep that day set apart and treat it like a special time.

Consider what you would or would not want others to seek from you during that time frame. Do this and you will get a good idea of what is appropriate for the Sabbath.

How would you treat a person who celebrates Christmas on Christmas day and eve? That is a relatable way you can think of how to treat a Sabbath keeper.

If there is an emergency, Christmas wouldn't stop you from reaching out, and neither should that stop you from reaching out to a Sabbath Keeper...after all, life comes first and if there is a desperate matter where life or health hangs in the balance, a Sabbath Keeper knows they must act in favour of life. Every time.

If it is not an emergency, ask yourself; "If this were Christmas Eve or Christmas Day would this be an appropriate expectation?

If not, it can wait. If it can't wait, you can know that you are respecting a Sabbath Keeper by your request, expectation or idea without causing them pain or stress.

If it were Christmas would you invite a Christmas keeper on a relaxing hike? Would you ask them to go shopping? Would you ask them to use their occupational skills to assist you? Would you invite them to a sporting event? Would you call to complain about a work entanglement?

This is a good reference point from which to approach treatment of your Sabbath-keeping loved ones. They love you and want to please you but just because your special days fall on different days than their special days does not make their day any less special to them. Also, just because Shabbos is a weekly event, this does not diminish the weight of its importance to those who cherish that day with the Creator.

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