I have begun doing yoga. Because my muscles and spine were in such bad shape, I did not bother with yoga—no amount of yoga could have fixed me. But now that my body is on the mend, I have been open to finding a yoga teacher. His name is Obe. He is a tall dark slender man whose father was sick and dying when we first met last week and now after the second time, his father has died. Yet, his demeanor and positivity was not diminished at all. His father was Nigerian and his mother is Jewish, so he is Jewish. I go to see him Shabbat afternoon.
The Shabbat, the Day of Rest, is not so simple. Most work is accomplished due to a steady diet of continual, day by day, attention to the problem; stopping in the middle of the week every seven days, even to rest and eat well, is against the nature of the human being who wants to get something done. Shabbat night is pretty easy because of the extra work needed for the preparation of the Shabbat is taxing and the praying, then eating makes you tired and soon you retire but the day is a different story. And the day begins early.
The very beginning of Jewish Law dictates, a man is suppose to be like a wild animal arising early in the morning and pouncing on the prey, the Torah. I try to study Zohar for a couple of hours in the morning before the couple of hours of pray followed by a sumptuous feast which inevitably puts me to sleep. The law also says, resting is not enough to be considered keeping the Shabbat, one must also have pleasure and sleeping in the afternoon is considered a great pleasure. But, the late afternoon, because one is rested, is the hardest part of the Shabbat.
After awaking from the nap is the hardest part of the Shabbat because you have been well fed and rested and now you are ready to go to work but you have to wait until the sun goes down the the stars come out. That waiting time can be extremely difficult, particularly if you follow the dictates of the rabbis not to use electricity even as minute as a cell phone because the rabbis consider electricity in any amount to be fire, which is prohibited during the Shabbat. The rabbis are hard-asses and my opinion, one should not try to emulate the rabbis but rather to attend to the 613 Commandments in the Torah.
Though yoga is difficult for my 73-year-old body, it is also a great pleasure to feel the exhilaration coming from muscles awakening after a long and numbing sleep. So I am sore, so what! There is a thin line between pleasure and pain; pleasure can be painful and pain can be pleasure. At the end of Shabbat, in the afternoon prayer, we ask God to accept our individual Shabbat, this is the way I observe the commandment and I hope this is good in God’s eyes.