web analytics
May 28, 2015 / 10 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

From Half To Full


A recent article in The Jewish Week brought to light something that has been afflicting the Orthodox community for some time now: teenage texting on Shabbos. The practice is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially but in no way exclusively, among Modern Orthodox teens.

The article quoted Rabbi Steven Burg, international director of NCSY, who maintains that teenage Shabbos texters are an open secret in their schools and social circles, operating just beyond the scope of most adults.

In fact, the practice has become so widespread that it has developed its own classification – “half Shabbos,” a term designed to reaffirm a person’s basic commitment to Shabbos observance other than texting.

Certainly there is no single factor responsible for this unfortunate phenomenon.

Peer acceptance and widespread participation play a definite role, as does the general enthusiasm teens have for texting. (According to Nielsen, the average U.S. teen now sends or receives an average of 2,899 text-messages per month).

For some, texting represents but one area in which their Shabbos observance is lacking.

Sadly, far too many teens no longer even see the need to keep such activity discreet. According to Miriam Shaviv, a columnist for the London Jewish Chronicle, Orthodox teens “openly discuss whether they keep ‘half-Shabbos’ or ‘full Shabbos.’ There is apparently no shame attached to this violation.”

Naturally, the primary discussion among parents and educators regarding teen texting on Shabbos has focused on how best to respond to such unchartered technological challenges that confront 21st century Orthodoxy.

Many correctly advocate inculcating in our young people a stronger appreciation for the beauty of Shabbos and a deeper appreciation of what it really is all about.

Others have chosen to focus their thoughts on addressing the addictive nature of texting, and helping their charges live a meaningful social existence without being so heavily cell-phone dependent.

Without doubt these are important strategies, and will hopefully go a long way toward addressing this basic Shabbos texting problem confronting our youth.

But perhaps it is not just our youth who struggle with the concept of half Shabbos, even if texting on our holiest day is not a significant issue for the adult population. I believe we would all benefit from a closer examination of the term our children have embraced.

Certain colloquialisms have become incorporated within the communal lexicon despite the fact that they fail to capture the true essence of the subject at hand. “Ba’al teshuvah” is one such example, by virtue of the fact that the subjects of that designation generally were not doing “teshuvah” per se when they embraced observance.

“Half Shabbos,” I believe, is another.

We all know there is no such thing as keeping “half” of Shabbos. Shabbos observance demands complete adherence to the many laws of the day; if one deliberately violates even one aspect, he is viewed as someone who desecrates Shabbos, plain and simple.

While I recognize that shemiras Shabbos can often be the result of a process that is achieved in stages (particularly for those who are new to mitzvah observance), it is not something one can partially “keep” for an indefinite period of time.

Nor should we be using terminology that implies Shabbos observance is something that can be practiced according to personal whim or fancy, as if the areas we fail to properly fulfill are somehow non-essential or extra credit.

“Half Shabbos” is a term that is better suited to describe the emphasis we typically place on the shamor (restrictive) aspects of Shabbos at the expense of the zachor. For too many of us, Shabbos is all about the don’ts – specifically, what to avoid and how to acceptably circumvent certain halachic roadblocks in order to enjoy ourselves as much as possible.

In contrast, too little emphasis is focused on the positive aspects of Shabbos – the serenity, the beauty, the reconnection with our Maker. In our frenetic world, where realities change and information pours in by the nanosecond, it is easy to understand why so many of our children view Shabbos as a boring and lonely experience rather than an invigorating and affirming one – and why they seek each other’s virtual company to keep themselves connected and engaged.

If we are to make “half Shabbos” become a truly “full” Shabbos for all of us, we need to understand the true goals of our day of rest. We need to appreciate the purpose of the restrictions so that we can transcend our base realities and acquire an aspect of the Divine that eludes us throughout the weekly rat race.

About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is an executive coach and president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at 212-470-6139 or at president@impactfulcoaching.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “From Half To Full”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Ben & Jerry's new flavor: Bernie Sanders
Ben & Jerry’s Launches New Flavor: Bernie Sanders
Latest Indepth Stories
J-Street

Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”

Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor

Abbas and Obama

After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process

Ronal Shoval Voting

Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria

Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony

Ronen Shamir’s just the latest tenured Leftist convicted of sexual misconduct with his own student

NY Times precious front page ink is only reserved for portrayals of Israel as the aggressor.

Although I loved law school, I doubted myself: Who would come to me, a chassidish woman lawyer?

American Jews who go gaga for Obama are first and foremost “Liberals of the Mosaic Persuasion”

“Illinois is the first state to take concrete, legally binding action against the BDS campaign”

Many books have supported the preferability- not to be confused with desirability- of the status quo

Consider the Pope’s desperation, reading daily reports of the slaughter of Christians by Muslims

The contrast between a Dem pretending to love Israel & a Dem who truly loves Israel is CRYSTAL CLEAR

Pentecost, derived from the Greek word for 50, is celebrated 50 days after Easter.

U.S and European demands for the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank is world hypocrisy.

We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.

More Articles from Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff

The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.

Rabbi Naphtali Hoff

We must create an atmosphere of complete intolerance for such conduct, while reminding our children that we can take pride in our unique and distinctive purpose without knocking others.

In which specific respects are we to attempt to “relive” yetzias Mitzrayim?

Until recent times, every powerful nation that has ever ruled the world has been fundamentally anti-Semitic.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

A central concept in any discussion about happiness is achieving clarity. “Ain simcha ela k’hataras hasefeikos” – there is no joy as that experienced with the removal of doubt.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

He ruthlessly crushed the revolt, and, despite lacking official Roman sanction, ordered the rebel leaders put to death without trial.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/from-half-to-full/2011/07/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: