G‑d commands the Jews, “Six days shall your work be done, and the seventh day will be holy for you, a Shabbat of Shabbats for G‑d...” (Ex. 35:2) G‑d desired that Shabbat be preceded by six days of work. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the above verse is commanding us to not delve into the physical world, running after our livelihood more than absolutely necessary. The Jews need not (actively) “do the work” to make a living, rather (passively) “it will be done”. The necessary tasks will be completed, effortlessly, and even by others, if the Jews will do G‑d’s will.
This does not mean that one should take a totally laisez faire or fatalistic approach to doing one’s job. You still have to show up at the office, but you don’t make your occupation into your purpose in life. Our jobs are simply the vessel for receiving our livelihood, and therefore we must, in fact, make the basic effort. But our job is not the true source - G‑d is. We should only put our external focus into our job, and save our real energies and concentration for performing mitzvot.
Shabbat should be totally removed from work matters….
In Psalms it is written, “You shall toil with your hands in order to eat; you will be happy and have goodness.” (Psalms 128:2) How will a person receive good? By using his or her hands to do work, but reserving the heart and mind for G‑d. G‑d’s blessing brings wealth; staying the extra hours at the computer is not what causes great profit.
G‑d is the ultimate Source of all blessings. The half hour away from the office to catch a Mincha minyan is sure to bring in more revenue than that same half hour spent with clients. This is like the story told of a chasid who once went to his rebbe and complained at great length about his shoe-mending business travails. After listening to his extensive tale, the rebbe replied, “I have seen many people who put their feet into their shoes, but you have managed to put your head into your shoes.”
Having the proper attitude during the week’s workdays will correctly prepare one for Shabbat. Shabbat should be totally removed from work matters, taking advantage of the extra free time to learn Torah. If someone is too absorbed in making his fortune during the week, it is not hard to imagine that he will catch himself thinking about new deals or purchases throughout Shabbat, instead of focusing on the holiness of the day. A Jew who does recognize that it is G‑d alone who grants his or her salary will actually have a sense of Shabbat throughout the whole week and an extra holy “Shabbat of Shabbats”.
Shabbat Shalom, Shaul
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