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J Relig Health. 2013 Dec;52(4):1382-90. doi: 10.1007/s10943-013-9757-3.

The mental health benefits and costs of Sabbath observance among Orthodox Jews.

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University College London, London, UK,

Erratum in

  • J Relig Health. 2013 Dec;52(4):1391.


This study aimed to examine the perceived psychological costs and benefits of Sabbath (Shabbos) observance among 13 practising Jews, 9 UK residents and 4 US residents. Emerging themes were as follows: Shabbos as a special day, giving time to contemplate on profound issues, withdrawal and rest from mundane concerns, and deepening relationships. These aspects can potentially improve feelings of mental well-being, and were indeed often said to do so. Some difficulties were described: some found they were prone to worry more on Shabbos because of the freedom from distractions, and there were reports of the difficulties of explaining to non-Jewish work colleagues the religious need to be free from work commitments. These findings were related to the literature on religious ritual observance and generally accord with other work in anthropology and psychology of religion examining the psychological impact of ritual. Work on the mental health implications of ritual observance needs to be expanded. It has received only limited attention, and understanding has been constrained by a misleading confusion between ritual and obsessionality. Other impacts of religion on mental health are better documented and understood, and religious ritual and its impact needs further documentation and attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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