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Just when you thought it didn't matter if you observed Shabbat

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The majority of Jews don't observe Shabbat. They move through their week with little thought to Friday night or Saturday.

I used to make a big deal out of Shabbat observance when my kids were younger, although we weren't "observant" in an Orthodox sense of the word. I cleaned the house, baked challah and made a nice dinner on Friday. We went to services Friday night. Saturday was a normal day, but we often had a havdallah service at home or went to an event at the synagogue and did it there.

Later, when the kids were older, we sometimes went to services on Saturday. Then and now, we have someone who cleans our house on Friday, and now that the kids have left home, my husband and I still have Shabbat dinner and light candles most Friday nights.

But Saturday...Shabbat. That's a tough one. But it shouldn't be, right? Especially with no kids activities or anything to stop us from going to services or taking the day off. And so many Christians make it to services on Sunday. Why don't Jews go on Saturday? Why don't I?

Well, as the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, with 239 passengers, continues, a story published in the Daily Homodia and written by Mordechai Schiller about a passenger who missed that flight might make you think twice about not observing Shabbat.

The story surfaced on March 10 in a post in a popular bargain blog called Dan’s Deals where many of the deals are for travel. This time the saving Dan reported was of a life.

In a series of emails, a travel agent and a client communicate about a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China. The client asked to book it for Saturday.

The agent, an Orthodox Jew, tried to encourage his Jewish unobservant client to switch his flight to Friday, even offering a better price. Despite the price, the said no.

The travel agent refused to book travel for him over the Sabbath, telling the client he was free to book that flight by himself. As reported on toDan's Deals, the agent wrote: “I wish I can give you a day later, but you know I just don’t like flying Jews on Shabbat.” He added, if the client changed his mind to let him know.

Indeed, the client did write back: “I reconsidered. You are right. I should be more observant. I’ll manage that day in Kuala.” And he added: “Since I’ll have an extra night in PEK, any recommendations for a good Friday night dinner in Beijing?”

The travel agent recommended a place to get a kosher meal and booked the flight from Kuala to Beijing for Friday instead of Saturday.

The Israeli travel agent opened his email after Shabbat and found the following message:

“Holy G-d! You sure heard what happened to MH370. I can’t stop thinking about this. This is a true miracle for the books. You are a true lifesaver… I cannot think anymore. We’ll talk later this week.”

According to Dan's Deals, the agent replied: “Not I am the life saver. G-d and Shabbat were your life savers. You owe them something.”

The validity of this story was confirmed by Uriel Heilman, managing editor of JTA.com. He reported in a related article, "When I tried to verify the authenticity of the story with Daniel Eleff of Dan’s Deals, he sent me this message: At this time the travel agent and the passenger are opting to remain anonymous. There has been a fair amount of negative feedback and they are choosing to wait until the fate of the flight in known to determine if they’ll go public. I have personally verified the story and can vouch for its authenticity. The emails I posted with time stamps are unaltered except to remove identifiable information."

If this doesn't make you think twice about how you spend your Saturdays...or Sabbath (no matter what your religion)...and don't know what will. Sure made me think twice.

As we have been taught, "“More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.”

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