We are at the most crowded point of our calendar. We have a new religious event with a radically different character every few days. Rosh HaShana. Yom Kippur. Sukkot. Hoshana Raba. Shmini Atzeret. Simchat Torah. Shabbat Bereishit. The press of these days gives no time to rest. It feels like there isn't even time to think, which is strange given the reflective quality of many of these days.
Shabbat forms a critical circuit breaker. On Shabbat, we put away our devices, stop worrying about work or yamim tovim for twenty-five hours, and live in the moment. It's an extended exercise in mindfulness. It's also a necessary corrective to the frenetic pace of the various festivals. Because of the prohibition on using Shabbat to prepare for the coming days, it becomes a time that we can enjoy ourselves, spend time with family, and work on ourselves.
Shabbat Shuva epitomises this message. We read a parsha related to the importance of repentance, not because of the upcoming festivals but as an independent value. We are told that Hashem is waiting for us and that He still desires us. We remember that Judaism can be soothing, not just very busy.
Let's all use Shabbat Shuva this year as a productive rest time. Let's use the time to think. It helps to prepare us, not because we're preparing actively, but because husbanding our energy and thoughts is also a crucial part of the repentance process.