(Vere, Stein Atle. ©2011. "Comment: Dilemma of Rest". brakha.blogspot.com.)
Modern Yisreli life can frazzle because, so far, it only has one day of rest. Each week, one Shabat.
There are two kinds of "rest": relaxing to rest from exhaustion and worshiping to rest from the mundane.
The Hebrew word "Shabat" שַׁבָּת (English cognate Sabbath) literally means "unlabor", to cease all mundane "labor" Mlakha מְלָאכָה . To escape the daily grind of the mundane.
The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) makes the weekly day of unlabor the most holy time of the year, even more holy than the annual pilgrimages to the Temple on Pesakh (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukot (Tabernacles), and even more holy than the high holy days of Rosh Ha'Shana (New Year) and Yom Kipur (Day of Atonement). The Tanakh commands the kin of Yisrael to observe Shabat, and is deadly serious about doing so. Humans have a sacred human right to rest.
While this Shabat is a day of unlabor away from the mundane, it is also a day of work for the sacred: "the worship of God" עבודת השם . In Hebrew, the verb "worked" עבד can mean either worshiped or labored, in the sense of served. Indeed, Shabat can be a lot of "work".
The modern State of Yisrael has a dilemma. Either it "relaxes" or it "worships". Upto now, the one day a week doesnt give enough time to do both.
The ancients have plenty of spare time. Except for the harvest seasons that are truly exhausting, most of the rest of the time is their own. Amid this free time, Shabat belongs to transcendence. To God. However during the Modern Era, human free time evaporates, since the Industrial Revolution. Ironically, our time-saving devices provoke us to become more productive than ever. Moreover, the modern economy traps us into a vicious cycle of work-sleep-work-sleep-work-sleep with the poor having few chances to escape.
With only one day off, Modern Yisrelis must choose between a day of truly resting for the sake of health versus a day of truly transcending for the sake of meaningfulness. An impossible choice.
Yisraelis periodically try institute a two-day weekend, attempting the Western culture of Saturday-and-Sunday off from work. Hypothetically, Saturday is for God and Sunday is for recuperation, but this two-day weekend continually fails to take root within modern Yisraeli culture.
It seems obvious to me and others, the unique culture of Yisrael must make Friday-and-Shabat, the two-day weekend.
• (Reichman, Libby. ©2011. "This Country Really Needs a Real Weekend". JPost. http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=216889, 2011.)