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On Shabbat, one must desire to completely connect to the Divine.

Sabbath Soul

Sabbath Soul

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Sabbath Soul
On Shabbat, one must desire to completely connect to the Divine.

"Keep [in Hebrew, 'shamor'] the Shabbat day to make it holy. You may work during the six workdays and do all you labors, but the seventh day is the Shabbat to G‑d your Lord, do not do any manner of work." (Deut. 5:12-14)

"Remember [in Hebrew, 'zachor'] the Shabbat day to make it holy. You may work during the six workdays and do all your labors, but the seventh day is the Shabbat to G‑d your Lord, do not do any manner of work." (Ex. 20:8)

Keeping Shabbat is a commandment from the Torah. Why is it juxtaposed in the same verse with the idea of working on the six days which is not at all a mitzvah from the Torah? What relationship do these six days of work have with Shabbat that they should be mentioned in the same verse?

In the Ten Commandments, the mitzvah of Shabbat is given as "remember" ("zachor"). Amazingly, the mitzvah of Shabbat in the repetition of the Ten Commandments is expressed as "observe" ("shamor"). The Sages said (Mechilta on Ex. 20:8) that "shamor" and "zachor" were said in one utterance to emphasize the two principle aspects of Shabbat. "shamor" refers to the negative commandments, all the things that we are not allowed to do on Shabbat in order preserve it's sanctity; "zachor" refers to the positive aspects of Shabbat, those things we are supposed to do to honor the Shabbat, like Kiddush on the wine, clean clothes, fresh bedding, good food etc. "zachor" and "shamor" also refer to the physical and spiritual aspects of Shabbat, respectively.

Anyone who observes Shabbat according to all its laws…is forgiven his transgressions….

"Rabbi Chiya bar Aba said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, 'Anyone who observes [from the root word 'shamor'] Shabbat according to all its laws, even if he worshiped idols with the same fervor as the generation of Enosh, he is forgiven his transgressions'" (Shabbat 118b).

How can keeping Shabbat achieve forgiveness for one's transgressions? In this case one even worshipped idols, which carries a penalty of death. How can it be that keeping Shabbat would earn him complete forgiveness? Furthermore it only takes "keeping" ("shamor") Shabbat which we know means just not doing any forbidden labors, a lower level of Shabbat observance than "remembering" ("zachor"). It follows that if one were to sleep for the twenty-five hours of Shabbat, he would wake up having earned complete forgiveness!

Rabbi Aaron Karliner once stated that if one didn't feel or even endeavor to feel some of the spiritual delights of the World to Come on Shabbat, then when he goes to Gan Eden, even there, surrounded by the Divine Presence, he will feel none of the spiritual delights that are part of Gan Eden. He will be nothing more than a bench that the tzadikim sit on. Shabbat is a taste of the World to Come, a day of the Neshama, not a day of the body at all (Zohar II 205b). Shabbat is a day of connecting to G‑d and rapture - total attachment to G‑d, as it is written, "Israel shall keep the Shabbat making it a day of rest for all generations, as an eternal covenant. It is a sign between Me and [the People] Israel that during the six days G‑d made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he ceased working and rested (or withdrew to the spiritual or put the soul into Shabbat). (Ex.31:16-17)

All of the 613 commandments have value even when one does them with no spiritual feeling. Performing mitzvot brings rectification to the world. The six days of working are the time for doing mitzvot. According to tradition, the human body is composed of a total of 613 identifiable limbs and sinews. Clearly the Sages understood that performing mitzvot is the explicit purpose of the physical body. Shabbat though, carries with it no specific physical mitzvot, and the Torah asks us to do only one positive Shabbat mitzvah: to sanctify it. Being that Shabbat is the day of the soul, it makes sense that the body and its mitzvot have no active role in Shabbat. If a Jew doesn't activate his soul and feel some of the spiritual delight inherent in Shabbat, then he is missing the entire essence of Shabbat!

On Shabbat, the essence of the day is unity and complete connection to G‑d….

The Arizal (in Shaar Hakavanot, explaining the differences between Shabbat and the holidays) expressed this in a very dramatic way. On all other holy days, the supernal unity between G‑d and the Shechina is affected by the prayers of the day. But on Shabbat, the essence of the day is unity and complete connection to G‑d. The very essence of the day creates the divine unity. The message is that the divine service of Shabbat should be until there is a desire for G‑dliness so strong that the Neshama wants to leave the physical and reunite with its divine source.

When one serves G‑d on Shabbat with such desire, it is as if one's Neshama has actually gone out and returned to its source. If one was deserving of the death penalty for idol worship then it is as if it was already implemented. This is also hinted at in the language of the Sages "...anyone who keeps Shabbat according to all its laws..." (Shabbat118b).

Nevertheless, why in the above statement do the Sages use the term to "observe" ("shamor") Shabbat and not to "remember" Shabbat, the higher level, the level which is at one with the Neshama. Keeping Shabbat and refraining from work isn't only a matter of not doing any work, there is a deeper meaning. When one achieves a level where Shabbat is truly a day of the Neshama, a day of spiritual rapture and total attachment to G‑d, then it is inconceivable that one could have any desire for or connection with the forbidden labors of Shabbat. It would be hard to imagine that a Jew, after four hours of inspired prayer on Shabbat morning would announce to his friends, "C'mon guys, let's hop in the car, get some beer and pizza and head for the beach."

Now we can understand why the Sages said, "Anyone who observes [from the root word 'shamor'] Shabbat according to all its laws, even if he worshiped idols with the same fervor as the generation of Enosh, he is forgiven his transgressions" instead of using the term "one who remembers Shabbat". When one has elevated even the "shamor" aspect of Shabbat, and the physical aspects of Shabbat have become spiritual, then certainly G‑d will forgive him his transgressions.

That also explains the difficulty in the verse "You may work during the six workdays and do all you labors, but the seventh day is the Shabbat to G‑d your Lord". What is the relationship between the six days of work and Shabbat that they are mentioned in the same verse when six days of work is not even a mitzvah from the Torah? When Shabbat has become a day of total dedication to the spiritual and a day of complete connection with G‑d, then "do not do any manner of work". It will be impossible for you to do any manner of work, since Shabbat has been elevated to a level above such a possibility.

[Based on sources in Chasidut and Kabbala
First published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Vaetchanan 5760]

Binyomin Adilman is the former head of the Nishmas Chayim Yeshivah in Jerusalem. Back issues of his weekly Parsha sheet B’Oholei Tzadikim, from which this article was taken, may be found on www.nishmas.org.
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Anonymous New Mexico March 30, 2015

Shabbat Is Shabbat only for the Jew?
Can I also light the candles in my home? (I may be Shephardi).


KABBALAONLINE.org: You can light candles before sunset on Friday if you wish, but only Jews born to a Jewish mother or converted according to Talmudic law should say the blessing . Reply

ЛЮБОВЬ October 25, 2013

Thank you!!! Light Of The Creator! With love from the heart!
Thank you!!! Light Of The Creator! With love from the heart! Reply

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