Skipping Shabbos and Drawing Lines

It’s 4pm, and I am sitting with my friend at a T.G.I. Friday’s in Philadelphia. I have chosen not to think of the day itself as Shabbos. I am skipping Shabbos day, you see; it’s just Saturday.

We’re looking to split an appetizer and then a dessert. She points out something on the menu, and I see that (like almost everything else on the menu) it includes meat. “Oh, I can’t eat that,” I say. She knows that I don’t eat non-kosher meat, but didn’t realize that particular dish wasn’t vegetarian.

I hesitate.

Because what’s the difference when my observance level is in flux lately, anyway? Where is the line? Why don’t I eat non-kosher meat? I decide to not order a dish with meat in it: I don’t want to deal with whatever feelings of guilt I may feel while eating it, or afterwards. Better to explore one big Jewish challenge at a time, starting with Shabbos—one week at a time.

See, I love Shabbos, I really do. I don’t want to give it up. But it is unclear now what the shape of that day will look like… where the lines are. The line used to be halakha, Jewish law, but I am no longer convinced that is the right metric for me for Shabbos, or for the Jewish life I want to live. Frankly, I’m not sure it ever was. I just don’t know, though. Picking and choosing is a slippery slope.