The sublime values which the Shabbat imparts to those who observe it are easily recognizable. One can almost detect them with the five senses.
On Shabbat, the Jew is granted an additional dimension to his soul. He receives a higher, more noble soul that can experience the perfection of the World to Come. A spirit of sanctity crowns the Jew, like the golden crown upon the head of a monarch. Each man earns his own crown according to his deeds and accomplishments.
Each week, the additional Shabbat soul leaves the celestial realm and appends itself to the soul of a Jew. With the departure of the Shabbat on Saturday night, it returns to Heaven and appears before the King of Kings.
The light which G-d created with the onset of this world was of such a nature that man could see from one end of the world to the other, in one single glance.
However, man did not prove himself worthy of this blessing. Therefore, G-d set it aside, to be enjoyed by His creatures in the World to Come. In the future, it will again be revealed in its full potency, but only to the righteous, who will have earned their right to it. A spark of this light in the form of the neshomo yeteirah, the auxiliary soul of the Seventh Day, is revealed each week, on Shabbat, to those imbued with awe of Heaven.
The Shabbat is not an entity unto itself, but rather the climax of the entire week. It needs the other days of the week to lead up to it. Sunday through Friday draw their spiritual content from the observance of the sanctity of Shabbat. The holier one's Shabbat, the more sanctity there will be in the weekdays that follow it.
Thus the Jew's week displays a pattern of ascent towards the peak of the seventh day. Ideally, every moment of our lives should be imbued with the faith and values which the Shabbat imparts.
The Shabbat can be compared to a melody which serves as the basic motif of the symphony of life. It is a work which continues throughout one's entire lifetime.
It is difficult for man to grow spiritually, to set aside petty considerations and leave them behind. One must fight with courage and determination for his inner freedom from self-imposed limitations. Inner freedom depends on how well one has learned to free himself from the shackles of his social environment. Many are those who are politically and socially liberated; far fewer individuals have loosened the bonds that tie them down to social mores. The challenge is always there: how to live with others, and yet, at the same time, remain free and independent.
In an eternal moment, the Jewish People were given the Ten Commandments. From beginning to end, this is a declaration of man's independence. The first commandment: "I am the L-rd your G-d who brought you forth from the Land of Egypt, from the House of Slaves," comes to remind us of the general freedom which G-d has bestowed upon the Jewish People. The Tenth Commandment, "Thou shall not covet", comes to remind us of our obligation to free ourselves from the fetters of the desire for temporal, material gain.
Judaism encourages us to view the weekdays as an ongoing ascent to the higher values and the freedom of the seventh day. All week long, one should look forward anxiously to the coming Shabbat. Similarly, all one's life should be characterized by an eager anticipation of the Great Shabbat of the World to Come.
A fuller appreciation of the Shabbat and the week-long anticipation of its arrival are a natural anecdote to cravings for material benefits here and now. Rather than hankering for a larger home or a more expensive car, the Jew longs each day for the advent of Shabbat, and the closeness to the Creator which it brings in its wake.
In this manner, the Shabbat can transform our world – and ourselves – so that our hearts become intrinsically bound up with the Seventh Day and all its blessings.