The Essence of Shabbos

11 07 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen

The Essence of Shabbos

Hashem told the Jewish people at the time of matan Torah, “I have a a precious gift in my treasure house.  I will give it to you on condition that you accept the Torah.” The Jews asked what it was and Hashem answered, “Olam habah.” They then said, “Show us an example of this,” and Hashem replied, “Shabbat.” Indeed the Mishna in Avot tells us, Shabbath is 1/60th of olam habah.  If we observe this day properly we merit entering a world of eternal truth.

Vayichulu hashamayim…”-Hashem completed the heavens and earth yet there was still something lacking. Just as a wedding without a bride is not a wedding, the world without the Shabbbath queen was incomplete. We honor the day with delicacies, fine clothing and bright candles. However the Zohar says oneg doesn’t only mean bodily pleasures, but thinking about the Creator, praising Him and bringing Him into our life. Similarly the Michtav M’Eliyahu writes that Shabbat is olam habah in olam hazeh. It is the heavens touching earth. Hashem’s glory is revealed in the world on this day. And indeed the soul of a Jew expresses itself on Shabbat.  If you enter a room and instead of flicking on the switch, you grapple in the dark for what you need, or you come home soaked from the rain because you couldn’t carry an umbrella. You’ve tapped into the kedusha of the day. “Vayishbot Elokim m’kol melachto” Hashem did not physically work. What does the verse mean to say that He rested? The commentators explain that the entire world was concealed and when Hashem created Shabbath He lifted the curtain aside and revealed to us what was hidden.

 “Zachor et yom haShabbat” Remember the Shabbath during the week. The verse tells us to complete all our work during the week so that we won’t have to think about it on the holiest day. “V’asita kol melachtecha.” It should be in our minds as if all our work was completed. Mundane thoughts of weekday activity shouldn’t enter our thoughts for we are in olam habah on this holy day.

 “Vayivarach Elokim“-Hashem blessed the Shabbath. The Michtav M’Eliyahu asks, how could Hashem give an eternal spiritual blessing to a day that is limited by physical time. Indeed we see that Shabbath is really spiritual. Man is created incomplete, our world is a world of falsehood, but Shabbath is perfection. It is completely ruchniyut.

The Gemara states that all mitzvot were given with revelation except Shabbath which was concealed. Weren’t the luchot (which contains the mitzvah of Shabbat) given publicly? The Gemara  intended to say that we do not know the reward for the day because it is not physical. We will reap the dividends in olam haba. The Reishet Chochma writes that Shabbat gives us an aura of kedusha, holiness which stays with us throughout the week. When we hold on to the day we can perceive truth. It’s not just what we eat or where we go. It’s what we think and talk and do on Shabbat which makes it special. Hashem gave us a precious gift.  Let us take the day along with its depth and beauty into the coming week.

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