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Let’s bring back the Sabbath as an act against ‘total work’ (aeon.co)
271 points by BobbyVsTheDevil on Sept 14, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 274 comments

As an Orthodox Jew who observes the Sabbath every week, while sometimes finishing up work and preparations beforehand can be stressful at times, there's no feeling like turning off all phones/laptops/etc Friday evening and leaving it all behind. There's a supreme serenity that comes with the knowledge of "I can't do anything about it, so there's no point in worrying". As soon as Sabbath starts I'm totally focused on the now -- I can't do anything to prepare for what comes after, and due to the restrictions of the day I've done all my preparations for Sabbath before it begins. There's a saying in Judaism that Sabbath is "me'ein olam haba", meaning "of the next world", and it rings true every week when I can't wait for it to begin and feel sadness when it ends and I have to return to the mundaneness of work and logistics and emails. It's just the right amount of a great thing.

I am Jewish and don't observe but know a lot that do and also talk about how great it is to be able to leave everything behind on the Sabbath. I can definitely see the value in disconnecting one day a week. However, they also do a lot of really weird things that I can imagine creates even more stress, just for the sake of interpreting religious law as strictly as possible. For example, my friend's cousin accidentally left groceries in the trunk of her car, but since opening the trunk would cause the trunk light to go on, she couldn't do it (nor any jewish person with her apparently) and so food was left to rot in a hot car. I have countless stories like this being around observant Jews my whole life and it seems that is way more stressful, at least to me. Do people really believe God is maintaining a database of all the times someone is technically breaking Shabbat law?

My oven has a Shabbat mode: when you activate this mode, touching the controls doesn't make any sound anymore, opening the oven door doesn't trigger the light, and when touching a button the effect is delayed by a few seconds so you're not technically getting any result from touching the button while still getting the effect from touching the button.

I always find these things kind of funny. How important are these rules if god is so easily tricked?

God is not tricked. There is no restriction against cooking on Shabbat. There are restrictions against eg. making a fire and building. If you can somehow cook without doing any of those things, then there is nothing wrong with it.

I was talking about this: "when touching a button the effect is delayed by a few seconds so you're not technically getting any result from touching the button while still getting the effect from touching the button."

The concept is called Grama and its not universally accepted for these ovens and the like. For the reason you stated, if something is going to happen, just we are not 100% sure exactly when, then some don't consider it grama.


Grama really only helps you for rabbinically prohibited actions. (i.e. man made law, man made loophole). Not law that is considered biblical in nature.

Most people who wonder about all the "loopholes" don't realize that its talking about what jews considered rabbinic law.

to make an analogy, congress can't legislate a loophole around the constitution, they can legislate loopholes around their own laws.

It all sounds a bit legalistic. I say that with a grin.

Don’t you trigger an electronic counter by pressing the button?

If I recall, some of these modes activate a random timer, so you don’t directly trigger an action. More like indicating that an action should occur, without directly starting it.

Whatever action it is, it's triggered by your intention and your button press. You close a circuit for a very specific action and this tells a microcontroller to start counting a (random) number of seconds before initiating the exact action you intended. This is how all electronics work. In this case you don't start the device, you just start the electronic timer of the device.

At least start that timer the day before.

Maybe if your oven just turned itself on randomly and you quickly ran to put the pot in... It would probably be served a lot better by a digital assistant that you could tell to do things, as long as that's not considered a "slave".

This just feels like a "trick". As it stands today you turn on one device instead of another. And you certainly do the "work" part of the "you shall not do any work".

Yes, the delay is random. According to the manual, this was validated with experts Rabbis and is congruent with the way things should be done on Sabbath.

"it is in God's hands... As long as it's within the next 10 seconds"

People will always interpret the words of their God to better fit their own needs. They're having a hard enough time as it is to keep people close to religion. This means artificially taking down some of the barriers that no longer fit in today's world view is a must.

I mean breaking this commandment in particular is punishable by death. So I guess there isn't much choice if the religion is to have any followers.

But I'm waiting for the first person that, after consulting with expert clergy, comes at the conclusion that all they did was press the trigger. The gun and projectile did the rest, with great assistance from the target who decided to be in the line of sight :).

"Do people really believe God is maintaining a database [...]"

Well what do you think Oracle is ;) ?

Actual book title, look it up on Amazon: The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: *God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison

I'm Jewish but not religious anymore, and I know a lot of people that keep Shabbat that talk like this.

Frankly, I don't buy it. If we have a problem with detaching from technology, then, stopping all usage of it only one day a week is maybe 90% as unhealthy.

It would be like saying you have a healthy relationship with smoking because you don't smoke at all for one day a week, but after that you can chain smoke 24/6.

Now, I definitely don't think that social media/technology/<modern_thing> is nearly as bad as smoking. But if we accept the premise that maybe we're using it too much, then I think it's delusional to believe that stopping it for just one day a week is going to do anything substantial.

> If we have a problem with detaching from technology, then, stopping all usage of it only one day a week is maybe 90% as unhealthy.

> It would be like saying you have a healthy relationship with smoking because you don't smoke at all for one day a week, but after that you can chain smoke 24/6.

I don't buy this at all (sidenote: interesting that you decided to use a throwaway for this comment?) - taking a vacation from distractions and a smartphone even for a week helps me for months afterwards because it allows me to realize that the pull isn't important - daily use builds up the idea, being able to not use it without consequences stops the FOMO.

And you want to stop the pull of a light switch? Or carrying things outside the house?

However if there's a magic rope round the town you can carry things outside?

As someone else with a throwaway account, some of us come here for the ideas rather than to build a social profile.

And your point about taking breaks is valid.

But I agree with the parent's about not using a break as a magic elixir. You need to detach once in a while AND put reasonable regular limitations.

Simplifying this to a dichotomy basically only functions inside of arguments. It's like saying "if laughter is so great, why not do it constantly?"

It's possible that both being connected and disconnected are happy, functional states for humans, and finding the right balance is the topic under discussion.

> Frankly, I don't buy it. If we have a problem with detaching from technology, then, stopping all usage of it only one day a week is maybe 90% as unhealthy.

I think you're letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Also, very intentionally keeping a day per week free of technology may help cultivate the skills necessary to keep it under control for the other six days. It would certainly keep it from becoming an all-consuming habit by providing regular opportunities to re-evaluate.

I'm reminded of a story a landlord told me: he didn't typically offer his tenants yearly leases. Instead he'd provide a six-month lease that would allow them to continue month-to-month without any extra fees. Why did he do this? Because the ritual of regularly renewing a lease prompted his tenants to reflect on if they wanted to continue to live in his building at all, and many would leave for places that suited them better. Removing that ritual encouraged his tenants to coast and stagnate, so he had to do much less work less to keep is building full and the rent checks flowing.

Unlike smoking, which all humans can survive without, society hasn't yet been configured in a way where we can survive and improve our lot without work.

So, even if your point -- that disconnecting one day a week is still 90% as bad as disconnecting all the time -- were to be true, it's also moot because that's not an option.

If your point is conditioned upon technology, rather than work, I would ask you to determine how to disentangle the two. It's not like working into the weekend is a new phenomenon (since, as we know, the concept of a weekend was only recently won).

Isn't the concept of a weekend at least as old as Sabbath, ie thousands of years?

Yes, but it was only recently “won”: that is, most of western society has had two days off per week (to varying degrees) for just over 100 years if my recollection is right.

And we will probably never get to three days off (for the majority of population) despite all the productivity growth etc.

>Frankly, I don't buy it.

I'm Jewish too, and was never religious.

The parent is not selling anything, simply describing a recurring experience in a lovely way. It's not an argument or a pitch. To each his or her own.

I am sorry, could you kindly explain what you mean when you say that you’re Jewish, but not religious?

I thought that if one did not observe certain tenants of Judaism that they were longer Jewish?

It's perfectly acceptable to be secular and still consider yourself to be Jewish.


Based on your understanding Christianity is also an ethnicity?

Many people treat it that way.

If you're "Christianed" or "Baptised" CofE and Catholics will both mostly consider you Christian even if you're an atheist by confession.

The issue is that religious actions become cultural actions. And that religious leaders claim people as their own.

People who live in Thisistan are Chrewslims; or people whose parents were Chrewslims are also that. Silly.

Overall silly, but that history and location are important to understanding the ground in which a person grew, so to speak. There are some quips about "the God an atheist doesn't believe in" that have a point -- a person's worldview is shaped by ambient society and the philosophy they were exposed to as a child.

It is weird how culture and religion become decoupled and religious actions become cultural markers.

I’ve heard about converting to Judaism. If it is an ethnicity how can that be possible?

>I’ve heard about converting to Judaism. If it is an ethnicity how can that be possible?

I am not qualified to offer an opinion on Judaism specifically, but people have been "converting" to different ethnicities for all of recorded history.

I personally have a Scottish last name; but that branch of my family is catholic, which is a little unusual, but not impossible. Tracing back the paperwork, my "Scottish' ancestor arrived in America on a boat that came from Ireland during the famous famine in the mid 1800s. Now... maybe it was a Scottish person who just happened to be living in Ireland... but it seems a lot more likely to me that it was an irish dude who looked around, saw the difference in how people were treated, and gave his landlord's name to the immigration agent. I'm imagining the guy running around new york hamming up a brogue James Doohan style. But, I mean, today? I get to claim I'm as Scottish-American as anyone else, and there's not a lot you can say otherwise.

But there are countless stories like that where a person integrates themselves into another ethnicity to the point where they are accepted and they (or their children) become indistinguishable from other members of that ethnicity.

This is one of those major problems of racialism; most people define ethnicity by "looks like X" which often doesn't really line up with, well, anything.

Scots are a people group, Irish Scots are a thing. Indeed, my understanding is that Irish Scots invaded Gwynedd in N.Wales after the Roman departure. The Tudors -- the English Royal family, Henry VII & VIII -- hail from Gwynedd, so they're Welsh English Irish Scots (from Scandinavia before that I imagine?).

Anyway, lying and converting seem different. Assuming an identity as a Jew and being a Jew are surely different.

sure, but my point is, who decides what ethnicity you are? I mean, your average man on the street, when asked to identify ethnicity is still pretty much with Blumenbach; "what do you look like?"

Functionally, there is what ethnicity you say you are, and what ethnicity other people see you as.

I don't have a complete picture of my genealogy, and even if I did, even if I could say I was descended from some ur-scott and you could say the same of all of my other ancestors, you're still just pushing the problem back in time. People migrate. People have been migrating for as long as people have been people; You could, with enough work, figure out that some of my ancestors were in country X at time Y... but I don't think that is going to line up with your common definition of ethnicity.

If I think I'm ethnicity X and if most people perceive me as ethnicity X... well, then I very clearly am ethnicity X... regardless of what my great great grandparents may or may not have been.

It's more complex if I think I'm X but others perceive me as Y... but it's still all about perception, as far as I can tell.

Uh. It's both, man.

EDIT: Downvotes? For stating a fact about Jewish ethnicity and religion? OK, I guess.

I was down-voted until I’ve lost all karma points! I wonder what harm or disconvert I may have caused by asking a simple question about a users comments.

Not possible.


Alright man. It is, though. I am not sure how this is confusing to you. You're the first person I've ever met who has this problem.

You are making it difficult for us to assume good faith. What is wrong with the explanations that have been provided to you?

"It would be like saying you have a healthy relationship with smoking because you don't smoke at all for one day a week, but after that you can chain smoke 24/6."



You need food, but you can overeat.

You need exercise, but you can do too much.

It's not an irrational argument to indicate we need a day off, moreover, it's not irrational to suggest we do it at the same time.

FYI - have a look at your activity logs. Whatever business you're in, I'll bet a lot that it's down on Sunday. All our charts show a huge drop them. So we already are a little bit conditioned for this behaviour. It's worth considering nudging in a given direction.

That's completely absolutist thinking, and more likely to be wrong.

Exercise is good, if we get our rest in between rather than do it to excess in which case we burn out and grow weaker.

Eating is good, if it supplies us nutrients and we don't overdo it in which case we become obese and suffer health problems.

Sleep is good, if we use it to function in the world well rested and don't spend all our time in bed or it can develop into slothfulness and depression.

Leisure can be good, if we don't do it all the time otherwise we likely become parasites on others doing all the work.

Stress can be good, if its in healthy amounts that stimulate rather than destroy us.

Even using smoking as in your example. Lets accept it as bad.

Lets pretend we have a friend and he's managed to cut back to smoking less than he use to.

We have two attitudes we can take:

- Berrate him as a failure because he hasn't managed to quit (saracasm: I'm sure that will be very productive and helpful)

- Congratulate him on making an improvement and support him in his decision and effort.

I think it's ore to do with how our brains work. Constant distraction is not what we evolved for, so to take a break from it on a regular basis might well be "recharging" your brain's limited attention management resources. I know I always feel refreshed after time away from things.

>stopping all usage of it only one day a week is maybe 90% as unhealthy.

No, a recovery period can make a bigger difference. By the same token the recent advice on alcohol is to avoid it at least 2 days out of 7.

Recent advice on alcohol is to avoid it completely: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6...

That is a recommendation on public health initiatives, not individual consumption.

"When it comes to policy recommendations, it is notable that the authors recommend public health measures to reduce total consumption at a population level, such as “excise taxes on alcohol, controlling the physical availability of alcohol and the hours of sale, and controlling alcohol advertising”. There is no mention of information campaigns or targeting heavy drinkers, which may be less effective ways of reducing average consumption."

The risks they found are actually very small.

"Let’s consider one drink a day (10g, 1.25 UK units) compared to none, for which the authors estimated an extra 4 (918–914) in 100,000 people would experience a (serious) alcohol-related condition. That means, to experience one extra problem, 25,000 people need to drink 10g alcohol a day for a year, that’s 3,650g a year each. To put this in perspective, a standard 70cl bottle of gin contains 224 g of alcohol, so 3,650g a year is equivalent to around 16 bottles of gin per person. That’s a total of 400,000 bottles of gin among 25,000 people, being associated with one extra health problem. Which indicates a rather low level of harm in these occasional drinkers."


Surely chain smoking for 6 days is healthier than chain smoking for 7

Specifically with regard to smoking, I imagine if you can go one day without smoking, you're probably not chain-smoking the other six days. You have to adjust your habit so that it's not onerous to go without for a 24-hour period. That's going to put the brakes on a bit.

Disclaimer: Not a smoker, dated smokers.

Since I'm mostly ignorant of such practices, what _can_ one do on the sabbath?

I assume it's not the case that your entire day is consumed by worship/ceremony/Judaism? Do you spend any time pursuing hobbies? Are there gray areas, where it is open to interpretation whether or not an activity constitutes work?

Perhaps you unplug completely and do no computing or telecommunication for the entire sabbath, but is that universal?

For those who are more traditional, the norm is to not use any electricity, from lights to microwaves to cellphones.

Part of the time is spent with worship (usually about ~45 mins Friday evening, ~2 hours Saturday morning, and ~15 minutes Saturday evening). It is traditional to have a large meal with family/friends for dinner Friday night and Saturday lunch, and often these meals can go on for 3-4 hours (as a side note, meals without phones with everyone fully engaged in the conversation are great, my wife and I instituted a no phones at meals initiative outside of Sabbath as well).

As for Saturday afternoon, I personally get a lot of reading done and when it's nice I'll go for walks with family/friends or hang out with friends indoors. Lots of my friends get together for board game groups as well. Because those who observe Sabbath don't drive, everyone in the community lives within walking distance of the synagogue and therefore walking distance of each other as well.

This was especially great in middle/high school -- most of my closest friends are still my friends from my neighborhood growing up. We spent so many hours on Sabbath together talking and hanging out without the distractions of phones or movies or video games and grew so close over that time spent together.

Edit to clarify the electricity comment: you can leave stuff such as lights on or use a timer set beforehand, so you're not stuck in the literal dark for a lot of the time :p

It also sounds like the perfect antidode to social isolation, eg having to meet with people who live nearby, nobody on a hard schedule, common activities and practices, etc.

In Germany almost every shop is closed on Sundays, with a similar idea behind it. Only the most necessary jobs are done (firefighters and hospital workers) and there is free time for everyone to relax. Now just to tone down the electricity usage.. (but actually Sundays is a good day to use electricity in your home because the commercial use is so much lower)

My problem is laws dictating it. Perhaps I want to open my store on Sunday: why is it government’s business? Shouldn’t freedom matter? When I was in France, mandatory closing was horrible. It isn’t like I can go to the French equivalent of Home Depot during the work day. There is always Saturday, but effectively limiting by law to one shopping day per week is ridiculous. It should be the choice of the business owner and the consumer what they’d like to do.

There is more than just the owner and consumer involved here. it also includes any staff that the owner employs.

If you, as an owner, decide that you want to open 7 days a week, and you have staff that are happy to do 6 days and want/desire the 7th day off, what do you do in relation to those staff? Sack them? Employ others for that 7th day who are willing to work on that day and keep the others on for the other 6 days? Pay penalty rates for the privilege of having your business open 7 days a week?

I have come across many owners that would have no problems just straight up sacking people who are not interested in killing themselves for the business owner. They expect you to work under all and every condition that the business owner puts in place - seeing that since they have given someone a job then that employee is owned by the owner. I have even worked for some such people.

As the business owner, are you willing to work 7 days a week in your own business at the expense of your family life, health, relaxation, etc? These questions need to be carefully considered in a very personal way for there are much broader consequences than you may think.

I think most 7day employers like retailers having rotating staff rosters, so that the employees will be doing 4-5 day weeks only.

In fact perhaps having a mandatory closed holiday may mean that many people wouldn't have the jobs they have now.

It's not like the population will buy more things if you open one more day though (not sure how online shopping plays into this). So your revenue will just be spread out over more time, and your costs will be higher since you have to keep the shop open one more day. </speculation>

This is not just speculation. I live in a US state that recently allowed liquor stores to be open on Sundays. Biggest opponent of the law change? Liquor store owners. No increase in revenue, increase in employee and operating costs -- no win for them. That pressure to open if the neighbor shop is open means almost every liquor store is now open on Sundays.

True in part but there are still a significant number of employers that do not do this and expect you to comply to their whims and directions.

In terms of a mandatory closed day, how does the historical information align with the current information in relation to unemployment or under-employment?

Ridiculous argument. There are laws governing how many employees can work a week and no employee can be made to work 7 days per week. The only solution for an employer is to arrange shifts between different employees and this is how it works in practice.

Yes, there are laws that govern this. My point is that the person I was responding to was implying that only he, as the owner, and the customer were affected by his choice to be open. The effects are much larger than just him and the customer. So it is not a ridiculous argument as such. What works in practice will vary quite considerably to your idealised view. I have worked for such owners and was glad to see the last of them.

Irrespective of any laws that are in place, there are still many owners who will threaten sackings if people do not obey the owner's whim and decisions as to the hours the employee is to work. If that means that the employees are expected to be there 7 days a week then there are many owners who will sack their staff for only wanting to work 5 or 6 days a week. There are many employees who do not feel that they have any control over this and simply comply because they feel powerless and locked in. But that is a side issue here.

Just to play devil's advocate, why shouldn't the decision be up to the community that provides land and infrastructure to the business on the terms of following local regulations?

I'm not sure it's so cut and dry to assume that the individualist "free" "market" approach is always optimal. What are we optimizing for? If we're optimizing for freedom, freedom for who to do what? Freedom from what?

Ultimately it is up to government to set the rules by which businesses operate, because market forces (and shitty business owners) tend to maximize profit at the expense of everything else. Government dictating certain bounds means that businesses which want to do things that don’t maximize short-term profit - like paying employees a living wage, not dump pollutants into rivers, or manufacturing non-contaminated foods and drugs - aren’t competing against businesses which are willing to burn down the world for profit.

I'll advance a more American/Individualist comment for perspective.

Government should be limited in what it can control. Let the people and social norms make the decisions. The problems with government are worse than those of the free market in the long run, because they create friction and power imbalance between what people want and what another entity tells them is OK.

If your core value is the Government is too strong a force to be allowed to do much anything, then this makes sense. (Personally, it makes some sense to me -- limit the power of the gov't then the worst thing a Trump administration can do is deadlock. Imagine if he had more power?)

what right do they have to decide which day you can work or not? Asia has thriving commerce in comparison with Europe precisely because there is no fixed day to close and you can always go out and find something open.

> When I was in France, mandatory closing was horrible.

You get used to it. It's not like French people can't buy stuff the other 6 days of the week.

> It should be the choice of the business owner and the consumer what they’d like to do.

Not that simple as there are several externalities. Suppose you're a business owner and your competitor opens on Sunday. You suddenly have no other choice than opening on Sunday as well.

I appreciate the convenience of shops being open all the time when I travel to the US or Asia. But I believe it makes a lot of people miserable and it's not a necessity.

It's not even remotely true that "[o]nly the most necessary jobs are done" on Sunday; restaurants have no restrictions whatsoever, just to pick one example.

Electrical power stations, security guards, newspapers (they work on Sunday to print the news for momray mornkng), tv and radio, isps, hotels, airports, trains, small shops.

It's basically just big shops that close. Anachronistic practice that makes no sense.

Go to Jerusalem on a Saturday and you'll see what "not working" means. Still plenty of people working though.

Don't they have quite large non-Jewish population that keeps working?

This is in response to someone equating Sundays in Germany with Saturdays in Israel. Even in Israel though things don't shut down.

Unless you need to do something on a Sunday which depends on other people being available (I was delayed checking out of a hotel because reception opened late, without it being mentioned, which made me miss my train, and then flight since there wasn't a backup train on a Sunday).

> In Germany almost every shop is closed on Sundays, with a similar idea behind it. Only the most necessary jobs are done (firefighters and hospital workers) and there is free time for everyone to relax.

This was how it was in the UK when I was growing up in the 70s and early 80s. Not much traffic on the roads and a noticeably slower pace of life.

I don't want to go back to that, because with hindsight there were downsides to it, but as an adult I miss that simplicity for myself and my children.

There's nothing stopping you starting your own tradition in your own family, before your children get too old.

When my daughter was younger, and got her own phone we made a point of telling her (and observing) that there should never be a phone out while you are eating with people. And that it was rude to ignore people and be on your phone when in company.

She's now in her early 20s, and is hardly glued to her phone at all. She'll arrive a a persons house (or back to our house) and just dump it and her keys etc. on a table and ignore it unless it sounds a notification. It's so refreshing to see that when you know that most 20-somethings are welded to their phones 24/7.

Everything you teach kids shapes their view of the world going forward. Make Sunday a quiet day again. Create quality family time. Your kids may protest now, but they'll thank you when you are older.

NB. Also from UK, and I too miss the quiet Sundays we used to have.

> There's nothing stopping you starting your own tradition in your own family, before your children get too old.

We kind of do. Saturday has emerged as the "getting things done around the house" day, and for individual stuff. Then we eat together in the evening (something that isn't always possible Monday to Friday) and play board games or watch a film together. We try to make Sunday a day for family, go out somewhere or do things together at home. Doesn't always work out that way - children's homework, the weather, internet distractions, etc. But I agree that it is important to try.

Is reading a book on a Kindle or iPad fundamentally different than on paper? Is talking to Grandma who lives across the country on Facetime wrong while not talking to her at all is “better?”

It seems like mindfulness of what you are doing is more important than the means by which you do it.

As a Seventh-day Adventist (we observe the Sabbath by going to church on Saturday -- but that can lead to an entirely another discussion), I personally view it as a time to disconnect from work, and focus on God, relationships, and the nature around us.

In terms of hobbies, this is interesting a point of debate with many Adventists. Some are more 'conservative' where they won't do anything close to resembling work or hobbies (similar to some Orthodox Jews), and you have the other spectrum of people who more liberal in a sense where they will still do their hobbies (like going to movies, playing sports etc).

I think it is a personal thing to each person, but the overarching themes is really taking a day out of the week to disconnect from the trials of the world and spend a day for a mental reset however you choose to accomplish this.

Another Adventist here. One of the best things about living in a community of Adventists is observing Sabbath together. It's still meaningful and refreshing alone, but doing it with all your friends and the neighborhood is incomparably better.

My friends had a whole spectrum of things that were acceptable to do on Sabbath, but the common thread was connection. I miss that intensely, living in the Bay Area.

I wonder who does the work of cooking meals an careing for children during the religious day off?

In my experience, whomever would normally do it. Many of us would meal prep ahead of time and leave the dishes for later. I often fail at this level of preparation and just make really simple meals.

Gentile here -- what's not available on the sabbath is probably easier to define. IIRC it mostly consists of things considered to be 'work', but depending on your orthodoxy it is usually the most "active" things that are barred. e.g. cooking w/oven barred, but preparing something to eat is not necessarily barred. Activating a light switch barred, but passively enjoying the light emitted (if it were already on) is not.

> Are there gray areas, where it is open to interpretation whether or not an activity constitutes work?

Yes, but humorously (IMO) there are those who go to great lengths to create devices or methods that dodge the rules.

I was tasked at one point with certifying some aspects of a line of samsung ovens. One of the features that took the longest to validate was the sabbath mode. Normally the oven would turn off if left untouched for 12 hours. With Sabbath mode activated the oven just stay on in perpetuity until turned off. Had to try it once with it off to make sure it turned off, and once with it one, to ensure it didn't.

This way you could set the oven friday morning, and then use it all day long on the Sabbath, without having done anything that fits their definition of work. Then just turn it off once the Sabbath is over.

Always struck me as strange that cooking is not work, but turning on a oven is. Would starting a fire to cook over be considered work?

As far as I'm aware, starting a fire is what is actually prohibited, and certain modern Jews refuse to activate electric devices on the theory that electricity is a form of fire.

That "feature" should be illegal.

How do Jews justify wasting so much energy to get around a daft religious rule? If they don't want to observe it, don't observe it, don't just pretend.

One example of “cheating” is the sabbath elevator. As you said activating switches is barred, and that goes for the floor buttons in an elevator as well. So on the sabbath there are elevators that will visit every floor and thus has its buttons disabled.

I find it a fascinating view of ethics. Christians usual try to reason about why a law was made, and see their thoughts and intents as the primary means of wrongdoing, but while Jews appear to be much more beholden to the letter of the law. Basically Christians believe that sin comes from within and Jews believe sin comes from the outside world through their actions. As I understand it.

Or, in the case of Mr. Levenson from the article's first paragraph, break the rules entirely.


You asked this question when it was shabbat for most people but shabbat recently ended for me.

There are many things you can do on Shabbat. You can go on a walk, have a family meal, play board games (I only play board games on Shabbat), take a nap, read a book, etc. There are some gray areas, such as if you can carry something outside. Most people figured out a way to do it. No computing and telecommunication is universal with exception for life critical activities like with doctors and fire fighters.

I very strongly object to this approach... but I don't disagree with the intent. In the modern world people tend to have absolutely terrible work/life balance, we need to help fix that and it will take a really strong effort. In japan there are already programs and incentives setup to help people avoid working themselves to death but in America there's this stupid romance surrounding the idea of working over time and an expectation that if 100 hours of labour is how much you need to do to keep a roof over your head then you better put your head down and do it.

I'm not certain how we fix this but we need to make it okay to step away from work, for vacations... and to let the mind relax and recharge over weekends. We need to disallow the ability to hire yourself out for 24 hour on call - nobody actually needs to do that, your company could just hire more people and spread that responsibility around. And, lastly, we need to kill overtime dead, it's stupid, it hurts productivity, it hurts your body, it's never efficient... If your workday lasts for more than ten hours realize that a nice meal, some downtime and a good night's sleep will make you more efficient and make sure your boss knows that as well.

But, to do this, we don't need to revive a religious holiday, we need to empower people to feel like they can say no and disconnect from work and let them recover their leisure time. And just to be clear, it is theoretically possible that I could get a phone call at any hour to deal with a critical issue, but I don't watch anything when I'm off the clock, I don't let worrying enter my mind.

It's kind of the same thing, it's just the terminology that changes. What is "sacred" if not something to be respected. I am not religious, but I consider my disconnect time sacred.

Sacred usually means something that is above questioning. If that's the common definition, there's not a lot of value in that assignment.

My wife is Messianic Jewish. I presume they are more liberal in their approach than most Jewish sects, but as they all seem to use their phones during Sabbath (even posting videos from services to Facebook)

On the one hand, I don't really want to criticize other people's religion. On the other hand, by all general criteria, your wife is at least as much a Christian as a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness is, and very few non-adherent Jews would describe her as an observant Jew.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messianic_Judaism for people who are interested in a summary.

Messianic Jewish are generally not considered Jewish by the community, as their beliefs violate basic tenets of the religion. There is a lot of evidence towards these sects being used to manipulate non-religious Jews into conversion to Christianity. They are still welcome, but considered Christians.

The article raises good points about the need for formal societal taboos against constant work. The ideal (often violated, though) in our modern society of the "40-hour week" as a reasonable amount is one of them. Having regular times for contemplation and separation from the bustle of the world is important.

The gig economy has dangers in it. There's a liberating aspect in that people "can choose their own hours," but then that means that they have to work more to keep up with someone else who is working a few extra hours to get ahead in their own lives. It seems like the world of labor has a tragedy of the commons aspect to it, where it's in everyone's immediate individual interest to work just a little bit longer, but the end result is that everyone has to work more for the same reward. A bit like the two-income trap: some benefits, some liberation, but there's also a cost.

I do wish, though, that the article fully grappled with the issue of the 'shabbos goy.' It praises the virtues of having everyone able to participate in a time of separation from work, but then there's this practice where the conveniences of life are still indulged in by having an outsider labor for you.

> I do wish, though, that the article fully grappled with the issue of the 'shabbos goy.' It praises the virtues of having everyone able to participate in a time of separation from work, but then there's this practice where the conveniences of life are still indulged in by having an outsider labor for you.

I'd say the traditional Christian concept of the sabbath is looser and doesn't really require this kind of thing.

In effect I'd say that it is an attitude more concerned with the spirit and less with the letter of the law (so, for instance, I don't think turning on the light is an issue, and putting money on the table for someone to take isn't actually adhering to the prohibition on commerce).

    In effect I'd say that it is an attitude more
    concerned with the spirit and less with the 
    letter of the law (so, for instance, I don't 
    think turning on the light is an issue, and 
    putting money on the table for someone to 
    take isn't actually adhering to the 
    prohibition on commerce).
That's something that generally rubs me the wrong way about a lot of things with orthodox jewish practices (especially the ultra orthodox) - there is so much effort trying to find loopholes in the rules, instead of adhering to their spirit instead.

Yes. A whole collection of hardware has been developed to weasel out of the religious restrictions. There are "shabbos elevators", which not only stop on every floor (no button pushing), but bypass regenerative braking and dump the energy into a big resistor so as not to "do work". There's the "kosher light switch."[1] This looks like a regular light switch, and performs the same function. But it works by sensing the position of the switch with an optical interrupter at random intervals. So there's a random delay between throwing the switch and having it operate. This is apparently theologically acceptable, because there is not a direct cause and effect relationship.

For the kids, there are non-electrical devices made to look like hand-held video games.[2]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdbkvJznmwU [2] http://www.kosherimage.com/watergame.html

To be fair, if the law itself is what is important you can see the logic in doing this. It is a way of thinking that is not my own but it has a certain internal consistency.

Well ya the prohibition is about creating fire, why wouldn't you step on the elevator if it's just going to be going up and down anyway?

This is a common misconception, but the prohibition against using electronics on Shabbat has nothing to do with fire; it has to do with completing a circuit since "completing a construction" is one of the 39 specifically banned activities

It seems that both justifications have been used.


"Many poskim ground their prohibition of operating electrical appliances in this melakha."


My oven, which is just a plain old GE oven, has a feature in which you set the temperature and cook time, and it will randomly turn on, cook for the prescribed time, and then turn off.

"shabbos elevators"

There was one of those at a hotel I stayed at by the Dead Sea, but in general their elevator situation was different than the ones I've seen in the US and Europe: I encountered multiple elevators in Israel where you selected a floor at a central panel outside the elevator, then the elevator itself would arrive and take you to the floor, rather than having the buttons on the inside. I wasn't able to figure out (nor can I find online) whether that design was related to not doing something on the sabbath.

This is called "destination dispatch" and, far as I know, has nothing to do with Judaism. The elevators in the buildings for IBM Watson in NYC and Munich both use destination dispatch. I should also note that it doesn't have anything to do with Watson either, they just came to mind.


I've seen these elevators in uk, Brazil, US and I think Hong Kong (or maybe singapore)

Never in Israel though.

It's apparently more efficient.

I mean, I can't lie -- it sometimes seems appealing compared to the constant, gnawing sense that you might not be doing things good enough that comes with Christianity.

> constant, gnawing sense that you might not be doing things good enough

While that is a very common feeling, Christianity at it's core, is supposed to be an admission of inadequacy. "As a human, there is nothing I can ever do that will be good enough."

The freedom of Christianity is that Jesus has done the "good things" on your behalf so that your standing before God is not dependent on your own good works.

The corollary to this is that you want to do good because of your love for Jesus.

>The freedom of Christianity is that Jesus has done the "good things" on your behalf so that your standing before God is not dependent on your own good works.

I can understand and agree with the moral and humanist teachings of Christianity, but the premise of "salvation through faith" always seemed fishy to me, pun only slightly intended.

No matter how much good a person does, or how much they try to lead a moral life, they're destined for an eternity of suffering because of humanity's innately sinful nature, because nothing imperfect can stand before God.

However, if they "believe in Jesus", then no matter how much they sin afterwards, they're good for Heaven, scot free?

If a secular system of law and order operated under these conditions it would be considered barbaric and corrupt.

I upvoted you, because while I don't come to the same conclusions I think it's an honest point and logical chain of thought, and a truthful representation of Christianity.

I think many people on HN would agree that the point of prison is not revenge, but a mixture of punishment and rehabilitation that will hopefully deter the crimes of others and prevent future crimes by the convicted. We can't see into people's hearts and minds, so we must have standardized penalties. If we could really see into people's hearts and minds, and were sure we couldn't be deceived, we wouldn't let them out of prison until they were no longer the wicked person who would commit crimes, and we wouldn't keep them in prison once they had really changed.

In that case, the person who committed the crime is gone, and a law abiding, contributing citizen is there instead. We can't change the past, we can only change the future. This person is better in society than in prison. I think if we had the ability to successfully enact this system we would do it and it would be better than what we have now.

So the idea is God can really see into people's hearts, and doesn't want to just punish evil. He wants to redeem it, make what was evil good instead. So the story of Jesus is the story of how God made it possible for evil people to actually become really good, and once they have done so they can be in God's presence. And while they are still living on Earth, they will do good not because they are trying hard to follow the rules, but because they just want to.

Hard to know how to respond succinctly here. With respect to our sin deserving eternal judgment consider the majesty of the person being sinned against. For example if I stab my friend in the back to get ahead in business I might face litigation worst case. However if I attempt to overthrow the government I'll be charged with treason and might even face execution depending on where I live. Both scenarios are forms of disloyalty but society understands that the severity of the punishment should be according to the "majesty" of the person wronged.

With regards your second last paragraph, I'd recommend reading Romans, particularly chapter 8. You are right that those who believe in Jesus get off "scot free" but this is only because atonement is substitutionary. A Christian's sin is imputed to Jesus while Jesus' righteousness is imputed to him/her.

I feel like stabbing is usually a criminal act.

I think he meant figuratively, like he took credit for his work or something. Not an actual stabbing with a knife.

  "believe in Jesus"
It's not sufficient to simply believe in Jesus...as in a mental assent that he actually exists. The demons believe in God and shudder (James 2:19).

There must also be an entrusting of one's self to him, a yoking, whereby you give up "rule" over yourself and submit to his rule instead. To believe in Jesus but refuse to submit to him is rebellion. That's the state of demons and why demons are not saved even though they believe.

It is, unfortunately, the same state that many humans are in.

In addition to a trusting belief an attitude and acts of repentance must be present. Repentance is turning away from sin to God. This is a continual war for the genuinely saved because their sin nature is still present. They desire to serve God faithfully, but their nature has not yet been fully redeemed, so there is a constant battle going on to live to the Spirit and not the sinful nature (aka the flesh, see Galatians 5:16ff).

This is why most Christians really are hypocrites, with some being worse than others. They know the right way to live but do not do so perfectly themselves. Even the apostle Paul struggled with this:

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me" (Romans 7:15-20).

  However, if they "believe in Jesus", then no matter 
  how much they sin afterwards, they're good for Heaven, 
  scot free?
Yes. But I think you have an implied context that is wrong. The genuinely faithful are grieved over their sin. They look forward to the day when their sinful natures will be removed so that they are no longer even tempted to sin. Those who say they believe in Jesus but live open lives of rebellion to him and show no sense of remorse or repentance do not fit the biblical definition of someone who is saved and likely aren't. In 1 Cor. 5, Paul instructs the church to remove such people from it's midst which is where excommunication and church discipline come in today.

Also, as another commenter noted, it's not "scot free." Jesus suffered the punishment for all those who would come to believe. That is, God put their sin on Jesus and is now satisfied with the payment Jesus made. This idea is known as propitiatory atonement if you want to read more about the logic/justification behind it.

The thing about Christianity is that you can always be forgiven. It's understood that people are imperfect sinners and while there are ideals and moral codes, we will fall short of them.

What's the incentive to even try to do the "right" thing if you can always be forgiven?

Sure, but there is all the stuff about how not everyone who worships Jesus will join him in heaven and there is the parable of the sheep and the goats.

One of the parts you are thinking of is Matthew 7:13-23 [1]. The interesting thing about that is that people who are trying to do the things that Christians do are the ones that are not accepted. So yes, you literally cannot do things good enough, those guys performing miracles weren't good enough.

The only way to do things good enough is to, for lack of a better term, seek after Jesus. And then he works in your life, and that's the only way to "do the will of the Father". There are specific verses for all that, but to keep it short (and encouraging), just look up a few verses to Matthew 7:7-8 [2] "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find"

One of my favorite things about Christianity is that even in this time with all of our knowledge and access to everything it is so widely misunderstood, in almost all of its principles people have almost the opposite conclusion from what was intended. It's fun to explain it, if I can assume I understood it correctly ;)

[1] https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/mat/7/13/s_936013 [2] https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/mat/7/7/s_936013

And yet, they are the only ones observing the Sabbath.

But the whole point is that it depends on your approach. Jesus was very clearly in opposition to the religious elites of his day by choosing to walk, teach, and even perform physical healings on the Sabbath. The summation of the rationale for this is pretty clear: it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.


Right. But Jesus wouldn't have wanted you to be driving for Uber on the Sabbath either.

He says the Sabbath was created for man not man for the Sabbath. His reaction was to the legalism of the day.

He didn't call it legalism, he called it everything from hypocrisy (heaping up burdens on people) to simply evil (neglecting elderly parent for the sake of ritual).

I meant legalism specifically in the context of Mark 2 but I agree with you.

I think all I'm saying is that there's a middle ground where you go screen/internet free, and avoid things like housework, shopping, planning, and meal preparation in favour of spending time with family, but don't sweat things like non-religious reading, turning lights on and off, and walking to the park.

There are many people out there that are not Jews that follow God's laws, including resting on the seventh day.

Well, some of the Protestants do still observe the Sabbath (generally anything with 7th Day in the title). Those that observer the Lord's Day are not quite as strict about it.

I would argue that you can follow the letter of the law with the resting on the sabbath quite easily. There is almost no instructions on this topic. And to even clarify Jesus teachings on the sabbath, it's ok to even work on the sabbath under some circumstances (rescuing your ox). And this is the letter of the law.

The Orthodox Jewish teachings are extra biblical and but re often confused as biblical. Not to different from how the Pope creates extra rules for Catholics.

>where it's in everyone's immediate individual interest to work just a little bit longer, but the end result is that everyone has to work more for the same reward

If everyone is working more, more value is being created in total. So it's not zero-sum. You might then say "Yes, sure, but is working more hours to buy more things really better than a culture where we work less and spend more time eating dinner with our families?", which I would agree with, but is more of a cultural comment than an economic comment.

> If everyone is working more, more value is being created in total.

That's often false. It's very easy to create negative value, and it becomes easier the less you rest. It's also hard to measure when additional work starts creating negative value, so you can easily end up in a downward spiral of productivity as people compete for not just illusory but counterproductive gains.

Hmm, I was going to disagree with you, but as I reflect on my time in Tokyo I have to admit you're right.

"If everyone is working more, more value is being created in total."

That's not necessarily true, and more importantly, even if it is, most of that value is not going to the people doing the actual work.

Perhaps the social taboo needs to be against the continual enrichment of the ownership class with that additional value being created by everyone working more?

>> this practice where the conveniences of life are still indulged in by having an outsider labor for you.

Exactly. My sunday starts at 0300, when I relieve someone who worked the graveyard shift from saturday. I'll sit at a desk in a darkened room all day just in case a phone rings. I'll probably be on HN commenting on some article, but I have to be at that desk. Cops have to be at work too. All the nurses and care providers, airline pilots and air traffic people, all the hotel operators ... the only reason anyone can safely stay home on a sunday is because legions of other people do not. I'm fine with the concept of a day off, but we shouldn't attach religious meaning to something not available to everyone.

> The article raises good points about the need for formal societal taboos against constant work. The ideal (often violated, though) in our modern society of the "40-hour week" as a reasonable amount is one of them. Having regular times for contemplation and separation from the bustle of the world is important.

It may be important for you, Dan, but it's not important for me. Please, don't try to impose any more "formal societal taboos" on me. I've really had a bellyful of them. It seems like everyday there's a new one.

There is nothing stopping you from choosing a path in life that allows you plenty of time for "contemplation and separation from the bustle of the world." So go ahead and choose your own path, and let me choose mine.

Fair enough?

Cool, how can I afford to buy a house in an area of roughly my choice and not work horrible hours? Oh wait I can’t do both. And you’d probably say that’s my choice to forgo living in a nice house in a nice area.

But of course, if houses cost 50% less and everyone worked 50% less I could afford the same house and work half as much, leaving more time to do what I want.

Suddenly it seems like the decisions we make have an impact on other people. So how can you choose your path without impacting on my path, and vice versa?

> Cool, how can I afford to buy a house in an area of roughly my choice and not work horrible hours? Oh wait I can’t do both. And you’d probably say that’s my choice to forgo living in a nice house in a nice area.

Uh, no, I would say that I really, truly, seriously, do not care what you choose to do with the 24 hours in each of the days of your life. So please, don't try to tell me what I should or should not do with mine. I'm sick and tired of busybodies and crybabies who pine for new "societal taboos" for the rest of us to observe.

The majority of people on HN are not like that, but a sizable portion are. And I'm more than happy to incur the inevitable downvotes to call them out on it.

My point is that, whether you want it or not, the choices we each make have impacts of varying directness on what choices other people can make. Whether you choose to acknowledge them doesn’t change the effect they have.

> My point is that, whether you want it or not, the choices we each make have impacts of varying directness on what choices other people can make. Whether you choose to acknowledge them doesn’t change the effect they have.

You also seem to imply that you're entitled to afford the kind of house you want in the area you want, and that should impose some obligation on me to modify my behavior so you won't have to work as hard or as long to get what you want out of life.

The person I originally responded actually used the phrase "formal societal taboo." This is the secular version of religious busybodies wagging their fingers at other people who aren't behaving in a manner that suits them.

Without some sort of pressure to maintain a standard like 40 hrs/wk, employee work hours become a race to the bottom. This pressure could take the form of a formal collective bargaining agreement. It could also take the form of a strong social norm. In either case, it doesn’t work unless a lot of people buy into the idea.

It would be a lot easier if it were much, much easier to negotiate work-life balance while negotiating compensation. Unfortunately, I’ve never found this to be practical. Management has certain expectations set by company social norms. Any employee found violating those norms is punished in one way or another.

I'm Jewish and I observe the sabbath. It's quite a liberating experience that the whole world aught to experience. It's a time when I sleep better knowing that I can't turn on my phone or check my email. I eat great sit-down meals with my family and friends, with no outside distractions; no one is eyeing their cellphone or worrying about getting back to work because they can't do either of those things. We'll often meet our friends to play boardgames or hang out in the park.

There are definitely times when it's tough. A tight deadline is coming up at work and Friday's sundown is just hours away. But I plan around those things and I find that on the whole, having a day (completely) off of work relaxes me a ton.

These days, technology is literally built to be addictive. I'm sure there are people who resist checking their phones, writing emails at 2am and reading hacker news better than I do, but I think the majority of people would benefit from an occasional day away from these things.

> These days, technology is literally built to be addictive.

This is very true and a lot of companies make as much use of it as they can. [1] I think it can be dealt with with some diligence from ourselves though. I would find it impossible to disconnect completely during weekends, since I have many close friends in different countries, and the internet is the only way I have to keep in touch with them. So what I do is disable all mail/notifications from every app that is not the apps I use to talk to them. It's liberating. And most importantly: Disable notifications from the #random channel in the company Slack. That goes for the whole week :p

[1]: https://www.theonion.com/new-facebook-notifications-alert-us...

Plenty of religious things are not superstitious, but based on real psychological needs.. people who dismiss them as pure fantasies are missing the point. New Testament is full of such things helpful for psychological maintenance and emotional well-being, if you can get the metaphors. It's why the stories and practice of them have survived so long (because the practicioners survived more frequently and/or saw the value in repeating/practicing them). Take as many grains of salt as you need; there is a great treasure there.

Well of cause. People don't dismiss "religious things" like singing, gathering together or confiding in others. They dismiss the religious part of those things. And the assumption that wearing spaghetti strainers or turning off your phone on the weekends will somehow bring you closer to the giant spaghetti monster in the sky.

> It's why the stories and practice of them have survived so long (because the practitioners survived more frequently and/or saw the value in repeating/practicing them).

Yes. That's a hypothesis... another hypothesis that has a lot more backing in history is that the practitioners literally killed people who disagreed with them. Religions didn't survive because of minor health benefits or great mental advantages of regular praying. They survived because they where the mafia of yesterday who administered justice without regards for morals or popular opinion because they claimed to act in the name of gods.

Mathematically, it is actually rational for a religion to require wearing spaghetti strainers or turning off your phone on weekends. This was pointed out in an introductory game theory book I recently read.

There are benefits to being a member of a religious group, such as participating in the group's organized social events. People in groups will often favor others from the same groups, so for example if you are in the same church as the plumber you call to fix your broken toilet he might not try to run up the costs as much as he would if you were totally unfamiliar to him.

People who do not actually believe the religion might pretend in order to get those benefits. The book had a nice illustration showing a man eating a hamburger at a church picnic and his thought balloon said "I can pretend to love Jesus for a free burger!".

Religious rituals like wearing a ridiculous spaghetti strainer or not using a phone on weekends impose a cost on membership.

For the person who actually believes the religion and follows it they believe their reward for membership will be eternal life in heaven or avoidance of eternal damnation in hell or something big like that along with the earthly membership benefits like free burgers at church social events and only getting mildly ripped off when they need a toilet fixed. The benefits still greatly outweigh the cost of the silly, stupid, or annoying rituals.

For the non-believer who believes that membership benefits will only be a few more social events to attend with occasional free burgers and the milder toilet fixing rip off it not be worth wearing the stupid hat or foregoing using their phone.

Words have definitions, but also words are like functions that run in the brain. `mentionSpagettiMonster() { feelSuperior(); if( opponent.unskilled ) winArgument(); }`

Religion hasn't been killing people in order to spread, or stay spread ( except in certain mid-east countries), for hundreds of years, it would only take a short time after stopping the killing for the religion to die, and why would anyone care enough to kill someone, if there wasn't something there?

You "worship" - "attributing great value"/"worth-ship" to a spagetti monster, because you see the value in winning the argument, and you think it helps you win. However, the value is only transferred from the person you're arguing with. My value comes from God, and you maybe are arguing because you want some value, but in a competive way, not a creative way. Through God, a person can infinitely feel value, and that feels good, and that spills into their life, and they're able to treat people better around them, and everyone wins. In your scenario, you have to be like a vampire, and you only feel value based on your proximity to someone you feel is dumber than you ( based on your knowledge of their beliefs, which is a straw man at best ).

Read the new testament, at least then you can win a steelman argument, rather than one without a heart.

(and if you want to reply again with more rage, first ask yourself, "am I taking this position, because it would be a lot of work to read the New Testament, and I'm lazy, but if I'm outraged, that can be my excuse?" -- because I warn you, it is more work than you can currently imagine, all the implications that will come up, and the work of real change [ transformation hurts like death on a cross, but every butterfly does it ] )

You can find something funny without feeling superior to it. Life is absurd!

To find something funny, you "get it". The getter is superior to the got. If someone got you, they are superior.

Ask any kid who gets laughed at if he feels good about it. Some kids run out of insults and only need to laugh to torment.

Life is not absurd - "wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate." Life is such an appropriate choice that most people choose to keep living every day. It's logical, at least the kind of logic that arises out of chaos- civilization out of nature. In chaos lies death. Like the chaos of war. We spend our days organizing nature to promote a more just and productive society, to make life easier. Life is not unreasonable, it provides you much time for reason. Death is unreasonable, in that it can't be bargained with. People need a reason to truly live, a purpose, IE life and reason are very similar. So life is basically the opposite of absurd.

> to the giant spaghetti monster in the sky.

It seems like you could make your point without going out of your way to insult people. You don’t have to believe in anything, but wouldn’t it be considered “hate speech” to essentially besmirch those that believe in God? If we said something about an ethnicity’s cultural traditions, would that be acceptable on HN? Of course not. But somehow making fun of someone’s religion, provided it’s Judeo-Christian, seems to be acceptable.

I think we should be able to make fun of anything. I like that world better.

> You don’t have to believe in anything, but wouldn’t it be considered “hate speech” to essentially besmirch those that believe in God?

Just because someone doesn't believe in the existence of a god doesn't mean they "believe in nothing".

I believe in all sorts of things. I believe in a naturalistic universe, that came about, and operates, in a naturalistic fashion. This is not the absence of belief.

Some of the things in the Bible are also physical health items. Of course, modern technology and health practices have rendered much of the directives obsolete unless you get stuck in a really primitive part of the world.

There are few if any specific directions about health in the new testament.. unless you count "don't worry" as a health directive. The new testament is said to be "a better contract", not contradicting, but replacing the old testament.

Again, though, the stories should be taken with salt. They thought the earth was flat, but human brains were largely the same. If situations were occurring then, and they still occur today, you can learn a bit about the inner workings of the mind, society, and such.

I said Bible not New Testament. The Old Testament has most of the health directives.

You might want to look at the ‘they thought the earth was flat’ thing. There is quite a lot of data to show that a lot of people didn’t think that.

Here in Utah it is very common for local businesses to be closed on the sabbath and there is strong cultural pressure among Mormons to not work or do anything that would cause someone to have to work on Sunday (e.g., shopping and going out to eat, though some take it even further by abstaining from things like online shopping or even watching television).

I don't see us headed in that direction though. It's it's becoming more and more common for businesses which had long been closed on Sunday to cave and begin opening on Sunday (it seems like it often coincides with when the children of a business owner take over). With the share of practicing Mormons in the state less than half (and falling) there is just too much missed opportunity.

Also, my own impression is that the younger generation of practicing Mormons don't seem to follow the older generations sabbath restrictions nearly as strictly. My siblings and Mormon friends almost all seem to not keep the sabbath quite as holy as our parents did.

I do wonder though if I would have spent nearly as much time as a kid dinking around on the computer and learning what became my career if my parents had let me play with friends on Sunday.

I grew up Mormon as well and have since left. But I find a lot of value in traditions like this. We (post-Mormons) tongue-in-cheek call the Sabbath "Second Saturday," but I do think there's a loss that includes both the Sabbath as a communal good and the individual "day of rest" (except for lay member leaders who are exhausted at the end of a 10-hour meeting-filled Sabbath).

Another tradition I value is the monthly single-day fast. There are contemplative, compassionate, and health benefits to fasting.

But traditions don't require you to know all of the benefits before you start doing them--they just give you the program and ask/cajole you to get with it. IMO, a memeplex that comes with "arbitrary traditions bundled with turns-out-to-have-good-reasons traditions" is better than arriving in life with a zero vector for direction--i.e. no tradition at all.

I was also raised in a very Mormon influenced area (East Idaho). I'm still active and believing, but one of the things I do that's more for myself than because of cultural or religious belief is observe the Sabbath. I don't work or do school work and avoid most activities I normally do any other day. Sunday has become my favorite day. I don't worry about the coming week and can truly relax. That isn't to say I don't do anything, some Sundays I'm quite busy, but my activities are usually unrelated to my normal interests, hobbies, or daily life

I think everyone, religious or not, can benefit from having one day a week to truly separate themselves from both the daily grind and from what usually occupies their headspace.

> some take it even further by abstaining from things like online shopping or even watching television

I used to believe Mormons don't have TVs at all and that felt admirable.

Kind of have this in Germany, where many businesses are prohibited from being open on Sunday. For example, grocery stores can't be open unless they're at a central train station or airport.

In practice, to me it just feels really annoying and limiting. Means I basically have to plan any larger shopping trips for Saturday, even if that doesn't work well for my schedule. I get that they want to make sure workers have enough time off, but you could mandate days off for each worker without banning Sunday for everyone.

Not to mention that it being Sunday very obviously favors Christianity over other religions that might have a different holy day. The integration of church and state here turned out to be more than expected.

"In practice, to me it just feels really annoying and limiting."

As a Canadian who's spent time in Germany and France, I found it 'annoying' for about 3 months and then I got used to it. When I came back to Canada ... I found the noise and business to be crazy.

I've come to the conclusion that the 'annoyance' of limitation is better than the hustle and bustle of noise and business on Sunday and I prefer the Franco/Germanic model.

In Paris, some stores started to open on Sunday. I find it useful, and I now prefer when stores are open on Sunday.

You can buy anything on Internet on Sunday, electricity and water are available on Sunday, telecommunications are available on Sunday, our cars work on Sunday. If we use all those (for those of us who don't observe religious laws), it makes sense to keep going the entire economy 24h/7, IMHO. Automation may help to have 100% uptime availability on more services, but it is definitely better when things are available on Sundays too.

Not having to plan for a day to go shopping is a cognitive burden freed from our mind. However I agree we should use automation to achieve that level of reliability, rather than make people work on Sunday.

As we live in a society, it makes sense to have a common day of rest - consider that schools, hospitals, public transit etc. are also resting. Plus your family and friends.

Hospitals are certainly not resting. You might not have a scheduled procedure on the weekend, but those places certainly aren't resting. Public transport depends. Airports certainly aren't closing. Taxis still run. Some places will halt bus service, basically meaning poor folks cannot spend time with family on that day - other places don't halt much at all or simply have fewer buses. Gas stations are generally open. Emergency services are open and tow trucks are available. Many places have on-call HVAC folks available (for when heat breaks) and/or emergency plumbers/electricians. Utilities still have folks on-call to fix those. In some places, a pharmacy is open due to a hospital being nearby (mostly because the hospital won't really give out prescriptions).

"A common day of rest" depends on a portion of society doing their jobs on that day of rest, not to mention the ability to do the stuff they need to do the rest of the week.

I don't even think it makes sense to have a common day of rest - perhaps save a few (3-4) holidays a year. I don't see the issue with someone wanting to not miss work for the doctor and go on Sunday afternoon instead. Nor should it be odd for a family to get together on a Wednesday afternoon. Just make sure folks have the flexibility to do these things. The individual should definitely get days off, but that doesn't mean society should stop one day a week.

> consider that schools, hospitals, public transit etc. are also resting.

Pretty sure two out of three of those aren't really resting. You think hospitals stop working or trains stop running?

> it makes sense to have a common day of rest

Eh, nah. I'm mostly a social democrat, and I'd be all for better worker protections in general in the US, but I haven't heard any socialists or labor advocates pushing for "oh yeah, let's pick one day and force everyone to have it off". If nothing else, in the US this would be seen as a pretty gross abrogation of separation of church and state to make it Sunday (and every other day of the week would be even less practical).

People should absolutely have time off, but I think being more flexible is generally preferable.

There was a study 4 years ago regarding weekends--specifically, why do the unemployed also experience greater emotional well-being on Saturdays and Sundays, if they have basically free time any day of the week? It turned out that having a designated day (or days) for time off is a "network good"--felt by the entire network because it allows for more coordinated time together, all things considered.

"Increasingly, however, people are looking for individual time off when it is individually convenient. But personal flexibility can be a double-edged sword, the researchers found.

"Time flexibility is good for an individual, but it is bad for groups," Young said. "To make the most of modern life, we should search for temporal coordination – to work at the same times, and have time off together."


I heard an advocate for the sabbath who was an observant jew but felt that in the US we should protect Sunday, essentially for this reason.

"If nothing else, in the US this would be seen as a pretty gross abrogation of separation of church and state to make it Sunday"

No. It's as cultural as it is religious, and there are 0 'Social Democrats' against the notion of Sundays off on religious grounds.

"People should absolutely have time off, but I think being more flexible is generally preferable."

And no, there is generally no movement for this nor will there be.

The last thing we need is everything happening 24/7/365.

> No. It's as cultural as it is religious, and there are 0 'Social Democrats' against the notion of Sundays off on religious grounds.

Totally, utterly wrong. If you tried to mandate Sundays off anywhere in the US, the entirety of the left would oppose it. If you don't realize this, you may not know much about US politics. The left there is very concerned about any signs of state-sponsored religious favoritism, and this would very obviously qualify.

> You think hospitals stop working

Here in Norway that is exactly what happens. Those who do not need round the clock treatment or monitoring go home for the weekend and the hospital runs with a very much reduced staff. I know this from painful first hand experience over the last three years and it works very well.

> I know this from painful first hand experience over the last three years and it works very well.


It's painful but works very well?

Sorry, I expressed my meaning carelessly. The experience was painful because of the reason that I have the experience. Not because of the going home at the weekend feature.

I guess it depends. In Israel all public transportation shuts down (annoyingly so for many), and hospitals are only doing emergency procedures. London's underground also has reduced operation on Sunday. Likewise in many other EU cities. It's not something unheard of.

Teachers definitely do not rest during the weekends, they're preparing lesson plans, grading papers, etc.

We have the same thing in France with some weird exception for Paris. I was really glad when I moved to paris and could finally found a shop open at a time when it suited actually employed people.

I strongly believe that people's work times should be as desynchronised as possible which would not only make it easier for everybody to handle administrative stuff without having to take off-time from work, but would also help reducing congestion.

I find this position to be woefully lacking in cultural perspective.

What is it about we Engineers that we want to put everything in such mechanical terms, like 'handling admin' and 'congestion'?

There are considerable advantages in having most people off on the same time, not the least of bit the inherent deeper relaxation of knowing the rest of the world is off. It's completely another experience when everyone else is down, than when 'just you' are down.

I think a better solution to 'handling administrative stuff' would be to have days for this, and for some things to maybe be open a little later/earlier.

And if congestion is a problem with people on normal hours than this has to be dealt with.

I have this terrible feeling that if we let the cultural secularists at it, we'll all be waking and sleeping at different times, and everything will be 24/7 - after all, 'hey minimal congestion if 1/4 of us are rising at 11pm and going to bed at 2pm!'. Consider the great opportunity for GDP growth!

I think it might be a lifestyle thing ... from 18-34 I too would have felt limited with everything closed Sundays, but now I prefer it. Ironically it was living in France (outside Paris) that made me a 'believer'. It changed my whole view of living.

Although our positions differ, one point we might agree on is that the current situation is not good at all.

What I see is a three hour congestion in front of my appartement in the morning and a four hour one in the evening. People easily spend 2 hours trying to move about 4 kilometres.

Then you have the admninistration. If you come as late as 15 minutes after opening time, you better have a very flexible work time or have taken a half day off because you will be waiting for at least an hour or two.

I don’t think that opening “a little” sooner or later would help. They need to either be open when people can get there or eliminate the reasons why people need to be there in the first place.

> It's completely another experience when everyone else is down, than when 'just you' are down.

It's stressful and not relaxing.

You definitely have a right to your feeling, but I don't know a single person who reacts this way. I really do feel that in generally, overwhelmingly, most people relax better when everything is 'off'.

Supermarkets are open from 7am to 10pm Monday-Saturday even in small cities. When you can't plan your week around this, you have other problems that won't be solved by abolishing Sunday laws.

If you are living in a small town, you can always move to a bigger city at any time to get the benefits of longer opening hours.

I live in Munich. Here the stores close at 8.

> When you can't plan your week around this, you have other problems that won't be solved by abolishing Sunday laws.

Oh look, we got a logistical badass over here. Because you never ever need or want anything spur of the moment on a Sunday, right?

Look, it's not an enormous deal. But it does kind of suck. It's a decent sized decrease to convenience and a slight decrease to overall quality of life. Convenience is nice.

> If you are living in a small town, you can always move to a bigger city at any time to get the benefits of longer opening hours.

...Munich is the third largest city in the country. And I can't really just move, not a ton of Google-level jobs around. You sound like US conservatives: "don't like [insanely regressive policy]?? Why not just leave the country?!" Maybe because even if I don't like something, there's more than a single variable that I use to determine where I live?

While you want something "spur of the moment on a Sunday" others are happy to have a day off where almost all their friends and family do, too.

You are thinking very egoistically. Maybe try working shifts for half a year with only getting to know the schedule 2 weeks before, before you demand that everybody should jump to serve you. Or try to raise a child that has school Mon-Fri while you have to work Sat and Sun from 1pm to 10pm.

Berlin has supermarkets open sometimes even beginning from 6am, and a lot of "Kiosks". It also has a huge demand for programmers and other IT specialists. There is little reason not to move there if being able to buy whatever you like on a Sunday is so important for you. The rent is a lot cheaper, too. If Berlin is not enough, there is also Hamburg with offices from Adobe, Microsoft, Google, etc.

> I get that they want to make sure workers have enough time off, but you could mandate days off for each worker without banning Sunday for everyone.

It is not about individual working hours. Those are restricted by other laws.

It is about having the same hours off as (most of) your family and friends, so you can spend time with them.

And what if your family and friends are Jewish or of a 7th-day protestant church? Banning Sunday work causes unnessecary difficulties at the state level. It. I feel it is positive as a societal norm but I myself recognize Saturday as the Sabbath and find it bizzare that protestants maintained the Sunday practice after leaving the Catholic church.

Interestingly, I can remember back to my youth in Canada there being a huge uproar about this exact thing. Laws existed that forbid stores from opening on Sunday. Some stores opened anyways and were fined. Eventually the law changed in the late 1980s.

In the US, those were called “Blue Laws.”

Are you German?

If not, what do the Germans think of this?

Nope, just moved here a couple years ago from the states.

Most people I know here seem to think it's annoying, but I work at Google, so we got people from all over, I don't think Germans are even a majority of the devs.

edit: apparently 61% of Germans think stores should be able to decide themselves whether to open on Sundays: http://m.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/service/einzelhandel-mehrheit...

I'd be curious if and how those numbers change when it is instead "companies should be able to decide themselves if they are open on Sundays".

Anecdotally, that question complicates it for quite a few people, despite probably being the fairer change.

It's of course great when people work for you on your day off. Unsurprising, though markedly short-sighted.

If you're working weekends and your days off are on weekdays, this principle still holds true: stores are still available for you. So I'm not sure what you're getting at here.

I would be far happier working on weekends, and having my weekend in the middle of the week.

> If not, what do the Germans think of this?

I am a certified German and most people very much enjoy the six day week (de-facto five day week if you're in an office or unionized), though some people inexplicably want to do "sunday shopping".

Sunday having a protected status is actually part of the Grundgesetz (~constitution).

I mean, I just posted a poll that says a majority would prefer businesses get to decide, so perhaps not as much agreement with you as you think?

You did not. You posted a poll asking "Hey, would you like to go shopping on sundays?", which for the huge majority of people is a different question from "Hey, would you like to work on sundays?".

a pharaonic economy driven by anxiety begets violence, dishonesty, jealousy, theft, the commodification of sex and familial alienation. None of these had a place in the Torahic economy, which was driven not by anxiety but by wholeness, enoughness. In such a society, there was no need to murder, covet, lie, commit adultery or dishonour one’s parents.

Lol. All of that existed in the torahic economy. It never ceases to amaze me at the things people will forget to idealize the past. And from a history professor no less.

But on the point of the article: I'm against all laws that force others to participate in your religion, including preventing people from working on days your religion says are sacred. It's anti-freedom and pro-religion... if you want to force your religion on others, go live in a theocracy.

He's not idealizing the past. Keep reading:

"It is unknown if these radical commandments were ever followed to the letter."

The "Torahic economy" as referenced by the author in this context is clearly the _idea_ of an economy that does follow the ideals of the Torah. The way things played out in reality could more accurately be referenced as the "Hebrew economy" or something like that.

If that was his intention (I don't agree), then it is not unknown. It is known they were not followed.

If a torahic economy is only an idea... then why use it as an example at all. We know that's not how it played out in practice.. He holds the current economy to reality, but the torahic economy only to an idea. We aren't striving for violence and murder either... they exist, just like they would exist in a torahic economy too.

I don't believe this author is advocating forcing religion. He is simply saying that there is less freedom in the current system which effectively forces/expects over work and extended hours. This is an attempt to pull the pendulum back a bit.. which we can all agree is helpful.

> But on the point of the article: I'm against all laws that force others to participate in your religion

I think you are reading something into the article that is not there.

It starts off with a little background wherein we learn that the author's first exposure to strict observation of the Sabbath was when his dad was hired because their family was not Jewish. I don't think it's likely he wants to force "his" religion on others considering it's not even his religion.

It also says, "It is time for us, whatever our religious beliefs, to see the Sabbatarian laws ... as the liberatory statements they were meant to be." Two interesting things about that sentence: (1) the "whatever our religious beliefs" and (2) the shift from "laws" to "statements".

One of the themes of the article was that the sabbath idea was probably incorporated into the religion because it was founded by former slaves. I think that's significant. Two different ways to view the ideas contained within a religion are (1) they originate from god and are revealed to humans and (2) they originate from man as cultural elements and get promoted to religion. The first (downward flow of ideas) is more of an insider, true believer way of looking at it, and the second (upward) is more of an outsider, religions-are-just-part-of-culture view. This article definitely gave me the impression that the author leans more toward the second, which in turn suggests they see the idea as separable from religion.

This article is aimed at religious people. It's fine. Good writers know their audience and write to them. This would make a fine sermon or lecture. But you can see how the context collapse has led to lots of snark here.

My advice: read it with the understanding that it's not for you (or me), and that it offers a perspective you might not have gotten if it targeted a more general audience.

Seneca might have been writing to his boyfriend Lucilius in his famous letters, but anyone who's read them will agree they got something out of it despite not being the target audience.

> This article is aimed at religious people.

I didn't get that at all. I think the author was trying to explain that the concept of the Sabbath (ie take a day of rest) has important psychological and societal value, irrespective of its religious origins.

Yep, I concur. As an atheist I am as detached from religion as you can get, and I still think this article has some valuable insight. I know it from experience, as I am from Germany and most workers actually do have Sundays off (there are exceptions of course: doctors, nurses, gas station workers, police officers...). In retrospective, I very much appreciated having it as a kid. My parents were pretty busy otherwise but Sundays were always different and brought us together as a family.

I disagree-- I think this article was speaking right to me, an atheist. Sometimes I schedule a weekend day on my calendar labeled as "do-nothing day", in which I give myself the luxury of staying in pajamas all day if I feel like it, not leaving the house if I feel like it, and basically not doing any goal-oriented activities (e.g. nothing you'd put on a to-do list). I could really get into the idea of keeping a secular sabbath.

> But observing this weekly day of rest can actually be a radical act. Indeed, what makes it so obsolete and impractical is precisely what makes it so dangerous.

It was a radical act when introduced. The very religion that inspired it was radical and counter-intuitive. It's fun to see people rediscover that every few years.

edit: the article was way too informed about religious history to be anything other than a snow job by a religious society. Indeed, at the bottom it states that the article was funded by the Templeton Religion Trust.

I feel like observance of the Sabbath is actually one place where Christianity diverges[1] pretty clearly from many stricter Jewish traditions. Jesus pretty much straight up tells his disciples that Sabbath is for people to relax and that the weird laws around it were meaningless. But in general I'd say the author's sentiment is definitely on target. Guaranteed time off makes sense from many perspectives, morally and ethically. It's actually the one thing I kind of give credit to Chick-fil-a for. They'd make a killing if they opened on Sundays, but the owner genuinely believes he's morally obligated to give everyone Sunday off, so every single one closes on Sundays.

[1] quote below for reference:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” - Matthew 12

I'm LDS, and though I can feel the downvotes coming, I also feel like I can share some relevant personal experience here. We consider ourselves Christians and do not work on the sabbath, or I should clarify, are _encouraged_ not to (at an individual level all Mormons observe their religion differently, so some will work on the sabbath, or feel they have to in order to fulfill a sort of higher law of providing for their family, or whatever).

I guess I'd also add that in the general Christian view, the specific, older-testament-era laws around the sabbath had a meaning, but they were really pointers to higher laws and concepts rather than, or possibly in addition to, being materially meaningful standalone practices. And as you rightfully point out, those "little laws and practices" were also subject to a higher law. I remember when I lived in Japan, I was working outside as very hungry young missionary one day and a kind old woman grabbed some fruit and a bag of chips off of her family altar and gave them to me, demanding that I eat. This had similar significance to me and is an experience that's very close to my heart.

IMO sabbath observance a great practice. There are few things like the feeling of a day that is uninterrupted by work concerns. And going beyond the limitation to what we _don't do_ on that day, it's also a day that's set aside for meditation, big-picture thinking about life, spirituality, and connection with the universal. In the past I let it slide a lot more than I do now, but in the past I was also a much less-healthy workaholic.

>...and that the weird laws around it were meaningless.

It's important to distinguish Rabbinical law from biblical laws in this case. There are very few biblical laws about how to keep the sabbath.

I'm a North American who moved to France (not Paris) for a few years where everything is closed on Sundays even most restaurants.

At first, I thought it was ridiculous.

But only after a few months did I come to appreciate it very much. People are with their families, doing 'whatever'.

When 'everyone else is off' there's so much less pressure. It's kind of like being disconnected.

Living in, Germany there are many holidays wherein it felt like this as well - quiet.

After experiencing 'Quiet Sundays' as an adult, think the economic case for 'Sunday Shopping' is overstated, and I actually wish we'd roll that one back.

It's a difficult argument to make in a 'GDP-driven and culturally secular world' ... but it makes sense in ways that are just a little too nuanced to make a public case for.

The result will be the same whether it's called sabbath or "the right to disconnect".

Wages have stagnated and organizations are trying to squeeze more work out of each worker. All that while simultaneously reducing the organization's full-time staff or just cut the total amount of employees.

At some point people will snap or breakdown from working two 12 hour shift jobs each day. I'm joking obviously but it seems like that's what people have to work just to barely survive.

Agreed. And job insecurity is still a thing so even those who aren't overtly required to do so put in more than the expected amount to help reduce the likelihood they'll be in the discard pile the next time cost cutting measures come around.

> what our society would need to look like for the Sabbath to be possible.

Keeping sabbath is possible, though sometimes difficult.

Coming from a fairly conservative presbyterian background, the hardest part for me was on-call responsibilities. There are exemptions for emergencies (for doctors, police, fire fighters, etc), but in some software jobs "emergencies" happen nearly every day and it didn't seem like that was adhering to the spirit of the rule.

But outside of that it just means you need to be better about planning to make sure you get work done on Saturday, or early Monday morning.

Once you get in the habit of disconnecting its totally worth it though.

I grew up LDS and remember a church youth speaker saying something like "It's OK to pull the ox out of the mire on Sunday as long as you didn't push him in on Saturday." :)

> in some software jobs "emergencies" happen nearly every day

Perhaps in some cases we (managers? developers? customers?) ought to reconsider what constitutes an "emergency".

Or perhaps the software concerned is particularly poor.

Sounds very adventist ;)

I think forcing people to be prepared for a day each week without any services (grocery, gas stations) would lead to better emergency preparedness in general. And better planning. (I still remember when people needed to withdraw cash during bank hours and thus had to plan ahead.)

I'd also be curious what the Sabbath would be. Sundown Friday to sundown Saturday? Saturday only? I believe the Christian conflation of church day with the Sabbath is a misapprehension of scripture, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Eh, I don't think so. As mentioned above, almost all stores are closed in Germany on Sundays (not gas stations though, they will sell you emergency groceries for 2-3 times the usual price), and I don't think Germans are prepared that well. I think the frequency of natural disasters is more important for that (we have basically none in Germany).

That is an interesting technical point.

As an aside, we observe a day of fasting (atonement) every year, so my kids all know what it's like to be really hungry, but they also aren't afraid of it either. There's real life skills and strength gained from this.

> In a Sabbatarian economy, the right to rest – the right to do nothing of value to capital – is as holy as the right to work.

I realise this article is for American readers, and I'm not sure how to compare the holiness, but the EU Working Time Directive includes the right to a day off. It's more flexible than a simple day off, and has other rights.

Enforcement against the gig economy companies might need to be improved, but otherwise seems to work fine.


What we need is something we had in the union era - time and a half after 40 hours, time and a half on weekends, and double time on the seventh day. That kept employers from overdoing overtime.

I'm an atheist living in Israel. There is nothing more annoying to daily life then the Sabbath.

If you embrace it, then you must accept that no one works on saturday. You can't go to the store. There are no kids entertainment. Restaurants. Theaters. There is no public transportation because drivers need their rest too.

Sabbath is not enough. There is so much progress in automation yet it has been so long since the last time the standard work week length has been decreased. Why the heck is it considered a norm that all the people are supposed to spend almost all the time (that is left after sleeping, home maintenance and gym) at work?

I'm in. I don't roll on Shabbos!

We get both the Jewish and Christian Sabbaths off each week. We have more leisure and chance to reflect then ever before. It's our fault if we burn it up playing video games, watching tv, or working.

I've found that since I've started in software engineering I have much more trouble calming my mind down and thinking deeply. I'm trying getting up early in the morning, getting some exercise, food, and reading the Bible, which tends to get me into a more contemplative state. I just started, it's brightened my outlook and made me feel like I have more time in the day, though I can't tell if my work is benefiting yet.

Another article in favor of the Sabbath:


Shades of National Sunday Law!


> National Sunday law is a conspiracy theory which alleges that the United States government is on the verge of enacting a national blue law that would make Sunday a day of rest and worship. The theory is based on the idea that the Pope is the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast is worshipped on Sunday. Sinister forces (read: the Vatican) are conspiring to enact a national Sunday law in the United States, which would be the trigger that unleashes the fulfilment of the prophecies found in the Biblical books of Daniel and Revelation. In addition, this law would outlaw worshipping on Saturday, thus beginning a period of persecution of those who worship on Saturday, or Sabbath.

> This idea originated within Seventh-day Adventism (which considers the Sabbath to be Saturday), and some on the fringes of the SDA church have taken a handful of failed Congressional bills and Papal writings and inflated them into the trigger of the apocalypse. This is quite ironic considering that you would think blue law opposition would come from more secular groups.

I joke, but barely: Making any day a day of rest would play into religious persecution, and fears of same, in a nasty, nasty way.

As a student in Cambridge MA in the late 70s, very few stores were open on a Sunday. I often played rugby matches on Saturday and I remember having to often find a few hours in the afternoon free of classes when I could do various shopping.

Just an anecdote but you don't have to go back to the truly distant past to find the vast majority of stores closed on Sunday.

The state of MA had "blue laws" requiring those stores to be closed on Sunday.

Lots of (smaller) towns in Europe are still like this. It's very difficult to find stores open on Sunday, usually the only ones that are open are the large chain grocery stores.

Here in Norway shops that open on Sunday must be less than 100 square metres in area or sell only perishable goods. There really is no need for anyone to have to shop on Sunday. We need a day when it is quiet. Most people here generally avoid doing noisy diy or mowing the lawn on Sundays too.

How about we just work fewer/flexible hours, and spend our spare time on secular pursuits if we so choose?

Read the article...

Chick-fil-a is notably one of very few restaurants closed on Sunday.

> all franchised Chick-fil-A Operators and their Restaurant employees should have an opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so

"The Kapauku people of Papua think it is bad luck to work two consecutive days."


I bet this audience would get a lot out of a teleological exposition of sabbath observance. The article doesn't touch on this. . . . Shabbat as a technology for transforming the world over time and the origins of the laws of shabbat as a program running (executed by people) to build the microcosmos into the macrocosmos, culminating in a world where we don't have to work anymore. But that might be too emic.

I’ve removed work emails from my phone 4 years ago. That’s way more effective than turning everything off for 24 hours. First I’m still reachable if there’s an emergency. Just call me (people don’t call anymore so that almost never happens) and if no one calls I know it’s because everything’s fine. Second it’s all the time, not just the Saturday.

This is a possible idea for well-paid engineers. But many minimum wage people trying to get ahead appreciate the time and a half extra pay they get for working Sundays. Why would think we have a right to stop them from getting ahead by banning work on Sunday.

Reminds me of the 'Blue Laws' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_law) that used to exist.

I think some good came with those, but also a lot of inconvenience for people who don't work 5x8.

They still exist. Paramus NJ mostly shuts down on Sunday.

I wonder how our concepts of work and rest have changed over time?

Is tending to your home, family, or garden considered work?

Well for Jews observing Shabbas that is answered in more details than you would possibly like to know...

True, but even the ancients of other cultures largely considered them odd.

If this doesn't work out, can we at least keep one day a year? Please don't shop on Thanksgiving!

It actually used to be against the law. The King of England would put people in jail (or bring them to court at least) if they were caught working on a day of thanksgiving. This was 1600s of course...

There's a funny story about a guy in court being taken to task, but he said he didn't work, but his son did, and shenanigans ensued. Evidently it was a sign of protest against the king to work on thanksgiving days. Mainly because the king would declare them for his own purposes...

I'm not sure I can go completely offline every [Saturday|Sunday] but this has inspired me to at least book one day a month off technology.

I have been doing production the whole weekend with just few hours of sleep. I like the idea of this article. The pressure from work is intense and would love to observe the Sabbath just so that I can spend some time with the family.

You know what would be really cool? 365 / 5 = 73.

So if we eliminated Saturday and Sunday, we could work all year round. 73 weeks of fun-filled, delicious work each year!

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