Balance – Rest and Activity

The biggest difference between Macrobiotics and Judaism is that Judaism is based on Torah – which we believe is from G-d and to be followed. Macrobiotics has principles based on what is called The Order of the Universe. If you google it, you can find many links explaining it, this is just one Note in that link (and others) it mentions “the finite, relative world in which we live comes from and is nourished by the beginningless and endless Infinite.” Sometimes, articles dare to say, you can interpret this as G-d or any way you wish. They do not want to offend anyone or distance anyone because of religion.

Both give you freedom of choice. If G-d did not give us freedom of choice, we would only be like robots, not having any true challenges in life. Both ask you to go deeper into yourself and take responsibility. Both are simple yet complex. In Judaism, Rabbi Hillel says it simply Be moral, do not do unto others that which you wouldn’t want done to you – but the crucial part, go learn. And the learning can get quite complex. Many interpretations, many seemingly wise men with differing opinions.

Also mb can seem quite simple – live life to its fullest in a balanced way – but again, open to many many interpretations, and the big constant is everything changes, so just when you think you have it figured out, it changes.

Which is good!! Because life is about learning and living a more meaningful life because of what you have learned – mostly what you have learned about yourself.

And although there are as many interpretations of both Judaism and Macrobiotics as there are people practicing, my goal is not to try to cover them all. But only to present what I practice now (which, G-d willing, of course, will change).

I wrote Friday that I wanted to mention our Shabbos, our day of rest. It comes every 7th day. And it comes from what we believe is directly from G-d, as was in yesterday’s parsha, Yitro. Many in the world call it the Ten Commandments – we actually don’t, but rather the 10 Utterances (doesn’t sound as lofty, I have to admit) Sometimes I feel silly writing anything as there’s just soooooooooooooo many wise articles when you go to google – so feel free to find more, but this one emphasizes the difference between mitzvoth (commandments) and utterances:

What I noticed as I sat in shul hearing the parsha, (actually we stand as we hear that section) was how many words were used in describing the first four utterances, the fifth a little less and 6 – 10, quite brief. Again, I am sure there are many many many links that can be found to describe what is Shabbos and how to keep it, and why to keep it. I couldn’t resist, went looking, here’s one: – and I agree with this: “By resting on the seventh day and sanctifying it, we remember and acknowledge that G-d is the creator of heaven and earth and all living things. We also emulate the divine example, by refraining from work on the seventh day, as G-d did. If G-d’s work can be set aside for a day of rest, how can we believe that our own work is too important to set aside temporarily?”

And of course as many Jews interpreting it in many ways. But the main idea, it is definitely different from the rest of the week – ideally, it would be to connect to our spiritual side, to let go of the material world, to be inspired for the coming week. It says explicitly in the parsha  (see above link). Minimally, it’s a relief to not answer the phone, not get on the computer, not go shopping or do any business, not iron, cook or any other housewifey kinds of stuff (ok, we do set the table, eat, and clear off the table), actually, not even turning on and off lights makes this day blaringly different. And every week, I do thank G-d for it. I can’t imagine being the  energizer bunny that goes on and on and on and has no breaks.

But here is where I have a huge dilemna with macrobiotics – as in mb, food is best served fresh, just cooked ideal – but we don’t cook on Shabbos – and yes, we can warm up food on the blech (ours is electric, not ideal in mb) but we don’t warm up liquids, and not all food is great warmed up. Yes, we can have salads or other cold foods, but also not ideal (or rather room temperature foods). I do love my food, but I also look forward to someone writing a mb cookbook for Shabbos cooking.

The other challenge is there is a limit what one does on Shabbos – I don’t live in an area where there is a strong orthodox community, which is fine – I do really enjoy having the quiet rather than running around to visit people or go to shiurim (classes) – so I eat, sometimes go for a walk in a forest just outside our village, read and often fall asleep. But the truth, that sometimes is not stimulating enough, so I eat when not really hungry, just bored. Big no-no in mb – and sometimes, shhh, eat what is totally not healthy. I’m working on that.

Yet, I realize it’s because we are not comfortable today to be in a total rest state – we always need stimulation, feelings of achievement, doing doing doing. Shabbos is not for doing, it’s for remembering we’re here because G-d is in charge. How novel.

Macro interpretation of what is rest is left up to the individual – there are no set rules. But I believe basically it would be to enjoy doing that which you can forget about time, forget about the outside world and just BE. Again, even doing stuff like yoga or tai chi is often still doing – hard to get into just being. The idea of balance with rest and activity is based on yin/yang principles – nothing really stays still, all energy moves – only we need to find that balance for ourselves where we move in tandem with that which gives us energy – which is rest.

Of course, we do rest every night – and everyone agrees how crucial that is. And unfortunately, in today’s world, with overstimulation, even getting a good night’s sleep is sometimes a challenge.

So find what gives you rest – even if it’s just for a few minutes – and if you’re Jewish, and haven’t yet experienced the rest of Shabbos, I hope my words will encourage you to do so.

Shavua Tov (wishing all a good week)


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