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REPOSE AND SANCTITY
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A day-long rest, good food, a congenial atmosphere of camaraderie with the family, nice clothes doesn`t it sound inviting? But Shabbat has even more to offer us, far above and beyond being a pleasant day with those close to us. If we keep it as its Giver intended, the Shabbat has the power to charge our spiritual batteries with enough energy for the coming six days. How so? Read on "Therefore G-d blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it," we declare when we recite Kiddush on Shabbat mornings.

The Sages explain the meaning of "blessing" the seventh day and of "sanctifying" it.  The manna which fell during the forty years that the Jewish People spent in the wilderness after leaving Egypt, served as the vehicle for both actions.

The seventh day was blessed in that every Friday, a double portion of manna fell for each person, so that there would be ample supply for the Sabbath.  It was sanctified in that no manna fell on that day.  The Sages tell us that sanctification and blessing go together: those who sanctify the day, by refraining from creative labor, just as G-d refrained from raining down manna, will be rewarded by seeing a blessing in all that they do on the other six days of the week.

"Remember the Sabbath day to make it holy" we read in the Ten Commandments.  How do we "remember" the Sabbath?

"Remember it over wine, when it commences, and remember it over wine, when it is concluded."

In modern times, commerce and industry have grown to such dimensions that they threaten to swallow up the family unit.  Earning a livelihood and fulfilling our physical needs (and, often, our desire for far more than our basic needs) has become such a fulltime occupation that modern man easily loses his G-d, his religion, his family and, in the long run, his entire meaningful world to the gods of hedonism.

Consequently, it is of no import if one day's repose or even one hour's cessation of pursuing one's livelihood appears to bring a loss in its wake.  Joyfully raise up your goblet of wine, gather the entire family to witness your act of testimony, and solemnly declare to one and all that you are about to bless G-d out of gratitude for His invaluable gift of the seventh day, the holy Sabbath.

Each week, ingrain on your hearts that it was not only in the wilderness that man was completely dependent on Heaven for his nourishment, his very life.  Here, too, in the teeming metropolis, it is only Heaven's blessing that keeps us alive and well.  Do not be led astray by the sight of thousands, or millions, of human beings who seem to be earning their livelihood by the sweat of their brow.  They toil, they sweat, they race after profits, but without the blessings of their Creator, all might be in vain.

Teach yourself and your family that just as a double portion of manna fell each Friday, so, too, will G-d provide for them and guarantee that they not lose out by obeying His commandment to "Guard the seventh day."  Even more: keeping the Shabbat and guarding it from desecration will bring us blessing and joy.  It is G-d who is the prime source of our blessing. Neither our extensive advertising campaign, nor the hours we spent at the computer, nor the clever design of our latest products, gives us the breath of life.   He who created the world in the first place, He who fashioned the first man and the first woman, and placed them here in this world He is the one and only Source of the life-breath of all living beings yet today.

What is more, He has placed us here with a definite mission to accomplish; He remains and always will be our Sovereign, for ourselves and all our generations after us.

We "bring the Shabbat" to our homes and our families a few minutes early, to demonstrate our eagerness for its arrival.  Then we "remember" it with a goblet of wine and the recitation of kiddush.

Similarly, twenty-five or so hours later, we mark the conclusion of this unique day with wine, and a declaration of havdalah, distinction between the sacred and the mundane.

The family gathers to listen and answer "amen." Before we once again permit ourselves to kindle a flame the symbol of man's control over the world of nature we lift up our cup of wine in a parting farewell to the Sabbath.  We are determined to guard the light of the Shabbat for the coming six days, so that its lessons will remain within our homes and our hearts.  This is our opportunity to imbue the workaday world with the extra dimension of insight and holiness gained by observing the Sabbath faithfully. 

With the words of the Havdalah service we give expression to the testimony which our observance of the Sabbath has given: It is G-d who rules over Heaven and earth, and over all His creatures, including ourselves.  Since we are in His hands, we have no need to fear.  Consequently, our first words, when making Havdalah are:

"Behold!  G-d is my salvation; I shall have trust, and not be afraid."

This declaration also dispels any concern we might have that the respite we have just taken from earning a living will in some way diminish our income.  We re-affirm that it is G-d who is our salvation, and not the sweat of our brow.  Therefore, we shall certainly not suffer from keeping His commandment to observe the holiness of His Sabbath day.  On the contrary, surely He will bless us and grant us prosperity because we have guarded His gift and kept its laws fully.

Thus the Sabbath observer comes out far ahead of the game.  He has gained a day of calm repose, spent together with his family, uninterrupted by the telephone, media, and such.  He has had the chance to tune in to his inner self, usually drowned out by the din of the multiple pressures of the workplace. He has enhanced his trust in his Maker, and thus will be calmer and more confident.  He returns to the weekday arena of making a living with renewed spirit and strength.  No wonder he quotes the words of Isaiah the Prophet to his family:

"With joy shall you draw waters from the wellsprings of salvation."

"For G-d is my might and my praise"

G-d has helped us and brought us thus far, He will continue to send us and our dear ones His blessings in the future.

"For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy, and honor; so, too, may it be for us."  Therefore, we raise our cup on high, and give thanks to our Redeemer, and dedicate ourselves to His service.

We enjoy aromatic spices to recall the departing neshamah yeteirah, the additional soul which the Sabbath brings to the Jew each Sabbath day.

G-d has set boundary lines between the profane and the sacred, between darkness and light, between all of mankind, and the Jewish People.

Similarly, He creates a line of demarcation between the six days of the work week, and the Sabbath.  The Shabbat alone can imbue our efforts of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and the rest of the week with the holiness intrinsic to the Shabbat.

When we keep Shabbat, its light and its fragrant aroma enhance every day of our week.


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