Jewish literature is replete with diverse praises of Shabbos for its regenerative and social elements:
• It's a day of rest from creativity, time to curl up with a good book, time to recharge.
• It's an opportunity to connect with spouses and children and siblings and friends.
• It's a chance to gather as a religious community, for study and prayer and – of course – kiddush.
Just look at the song מה ידידות, an educational poem traced to 11th century Germany, which describes the day as a time for eating, singing, learning with children, sleeping and enjoying.
But here's a description that doesn't get much airtime: Shabbos is a day to retreat from everything and everyone, and communicate with Gd. No family, no friends, no books, no garrulous kiddush.
Talmud Yerushalmi, Shabbos 15:3
אמר רבי חנינא מדוחק התירו לשאול שלום בשבת אמר רבי חייא בר בא רבי שמעון בן יוחי כד הוה חמי לאימיה משתעיא סגין הוה אמר לה אימא שובתא היאRabbi Chanina said: It was only with difficulty that they permitted greeting people on Shabbat. Rabbi Chiyya bar Abba said: When Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai saw his mother speaking a great deal, he would say, 'Mother, it's Shabbos!'
Maimonides, Commentary to Mishnah, Shabbos 23:2
הטעם שאסרו למנותם מן הכתב שמא יקרא אגרות בשבת, וזה אסור, שכל זולת ספרי הנבואה ופירושיהם אסור לקרותו לא בשבת ולא ביום טוב, ואפילו היה בו דברי חכמה ומדע.One may read nothing on Shabbat or Yom Tov, beyond the books of the Prophets and their explanations. This even applies to works of wisdom and knowledge.
Lest one think these represent extreme views of pietists, the former is codified in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 307:1, the latter in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 307:17. [The latter source does add the caveat that some disagree and permit reading 'books of wisdom'.]
On one hand, I like this; I need to spend more time thinking about Gd. If Gd created me, and the purpose of my existence is to satisfy Divine expectations [in social relations as well as spiritual development, of course], shouldn't I set aside a regular time to contemplate that relationship? And might that go some way toward helping me feel Gd's presence on an on-going basis?
On the other hand: If I were to dedicate my weekly Shabbos 'time-out' for this sort of monkhood, when would I spend time on all of those other necessities – recharging, family, community?
But that other hand may not be a legitimate point. A person who doesn't have a knife can't decide that his fork is a knife – it's a fork. A person who doesn't have money can't decide to use someone else's funds as his own. And a person who hasn’t set aside time for recharging, family and community can't decide to use Gd's time for those purposes.
And it may not be the point at all; does my concern for recharging, family and community simply mask a fear that I couldn't spend an entire day contemplating my relationship with Gd?
Something to think about.