Parashath Wayaghel 

"ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה וביום השביעי יהיה לכם קדש שבת שבתון ליהוה כל העשה בו מלאכה יומת"

Wayvarakh A-lohim ath yom hasvi`i wayqadesh otho ki vo shavath mikol mala'khto ashar bara A-lohim la`asoth"

"On six days, work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy to you, a day of complete rest for HaShem; whoever does work on it shall be put to death." (Shemoth 35:2)

There is a Yemenite Midrash that states that 'the turbidity and coarseness that comes about in the soul during the week is cleansed and purified by means of worship and rest on the Sabbath' Siraj al-Uqul/ Hoter Ben Shlomo

During a week in which the  influence of the week was unusually strong or burdensome, it is imperative to distract the mind from the lingering influence of the week --to the extent that it is forced to flee from the distractions of physical pursuits. This unwinding process should be started before the Shabbath begins. Torah study and Jewish music enhances this process. The optimal time for the completion of this forceful expulsion is right before the Shabbath begins. Although this process should begin earlier in the week, it must be completed no later than just before the Shabbath service. During this time, one MUST use every ounce of physical and spiritual energy to expel the last remaining thoughts that pertain to the physicality and /or worries of the week. This is what it means to welcome the Shabbath spirit. One who brings the week into the Shabbath necessarily denies the Shabbath its true resting place and expression. As Rabbi Yehudah HaLevy said in Kuzari: "Your submissiveness during the fast days will not make you any closer than your joy on the Sabbath and festivals, provided that your joy is directed and with a full heart. Just as prayer requires thought and intent, so does the joy one generates when performing a commandment or studying Torah require thought and intent. You are thus supposed to rejoice in the commandment itself, which comes out of your love of the commandment’s Commander and your recognition of how He has benefited you thereby." "The Talmud thus states (T.B., Shabbat 30 b), “The Divine Presence will not settle on one in a state of sadness, laziness, laughter, levity, garrulousness, or loafing, but rather on one in a state of joy from a mitzwah.” (9 Nissan 5761)

The Sabbath is the psychological antidote for humanity's modern day woes and worries. When a person prepares and observes the Sabbath-- as specifically prescribed in balpeh.jpg (4295 bytes) , he / she heals their body and psyche --like nothing else. Thus, it is no exaggeration that our Sages call it yesod ha'emunah (the very foundation of our faith).

The commandment to observe the Sabbath is also preceded by the prerogative of six full days of work. Thus, work is considered an honorable component of man's daily life. "Great is work," our Sages say, "for it honors him who does it."1 However...while work is the prerogative of free-born creative men, it is not everything! "Work can make man free, but one can also be a slave to work." As G-D (the creator of the world) rested on the seventh day... man must also rest. Thus, we are stopped on this one day from exercising our characteristic human powers of producing and creating in the material world .2

"Another blessing flows from Sabbath-- the blessing of menuchah--"rest." This menuchah is something much more than physical rest. It is an attitude of mind, a spiritual  state, induced by the experience that is Sabbath. It is compounded of many things. There is the joy of being released from the bondage to the pressing demands of everyday life.  Quite apart from the bondage of work, there are the insistent demands of our mechanical civilization--the bus, the car, the telephone; the demands, too, of our mechanical entertainment industry--radio, television, the cinema... Until we reflect, most of us are unaware of the toll which these things take of our vital energy; we do not realize the extent of our enslavement. To take only one example: how many of us can sit alone in a room together with a ringing telephone without answering it? the summons is irresistible: we know that sooner or later we must answer it. On Sabbath this 'must' does not exist. The relaxation, the relief of spirit, which a real (OBSERVANTLY) JEWISH Sabbath brings must be experienced to be believed."3

The spirit of menuchah finds its positive expression in the Sabbath meals in which the happy companionship of family and friends, the enjoyment of good food, the table songs in praise of G-D and the Sabbath, all combine to form an entirely unique experience. In this Sabbath atmosphere it is easy to feel the nearness to G-D, and to face life without worry and without regrets, in the confidence that we are all in His care. "4

"The blessings of Sabbath are not confined to the life of the individual. After helping the Jew to find himself, Sabbath helps him to find his fellow man. One of the basic motives given in the Torah for the Sabbath commandment is :

'that your manservant and maidservant may rest as well as you' (Deut 5:14)

On the Sabbath Servant and master met as equals, as free human personalities. Sabbath restored to the slave his human dignity. Sabbath rest and Sabbath freedom applied also to the 'stranger within the gates.' Thus the foundation was laid for the brotherhood of man. Even the cattle are not excluded from the heavenly blessing of Sabbath rest. Not even the animal may be denied the dignity due a creature of G-D.  Sabbath is thus a weekly recurring divine protest against slavery and oppression. Lifting up the Kiddush cup on Friday night, the Jew links the creation of the world with man's freedom, so declaring slavery and oppression deadly sins against the very foundation of the universe. Can one be surprised that tyrants of all times would not permit Israel to celebrate the Sabbath?"5

But beware of imitations! Only the Talmudic prescription of Sabbath rest --as described and practiced by today's Orthodox Jews --corresponds with the Biblical description of Israel's "eternal gift from G-D." As the Torah promised the Sabbath as an "eternal gift", only observant followers of the Torah (Orthodox Jews) are in possession of its age-old traditions and laws. Only they can guide the beginner in its proper observance...This is not exclusivity or elitism. It is the historical reality of Judaic transmission --from generation to generation. The buck stops with them...

See Isaiah 56:2 and Nehemiah 9:13 for different commentaries about the Sabbath (from the Prophets).

1
The Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 49b
2
The Sabbath, Dayan Dr. I. Grunfeld, Feldheim, New York, 1981, p. 16 -17
3 ibid., p. 18
4 ibid., p. 19
5 ibid., p. 20

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