Written by LW user Benquo.

This is part of LessWrong for EA, a LessWrong repost & low-commitment discussion group (inspired by this comment). Each week I will revive a highly upvoted, EA-relevant post from the LessWrong Archives, more or less at random

Excerpt from the post:

Growing up Jewish, I thought that the traditional rules around the Sabbath were silly. Then I forgot to bring a spare battery on a camping trip. Now I think that something like the traditional Jewish Sabbath is an important cultural adaptation to preserve leisure, that would otherwise be destroyed in an urbanized, technological civilization.

Sabbath as easy mode

As a child, I first learned that the Sabbath was a “day of rest,” a day on which you don’t do “work.” I was brought up by liberal Jews in a society in which “work” tends to mean either business or wage labor. Things you do for money. Things you do because someone else demands them. This is for the most part how we observed the Sabbath.

But I was also taught about the older traditions in which many categories of mundane activity are forbidden: lighting a fire, cutting or mending cloth, writing or erasing letters. This seemed to me like an arbitrary superstition based on an excessive literality. Surely I could tell for myself whether I was writing as part of a leisure activity or a desk job. Surely I could tell for myself whether I was planting seeds for my private garden, or on a commercial farm. Why avoid these activities in the privacy of one’s own home, doing things for oneself, and not working at all? (Full Post on LW)

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