Shabbat thoughts  

11.7.09

The following is adapted from an email I sent to a friend on Shabbat, and why I believe it still stands, so to speak...

The italics are a quote from the email he sent me that I'm replying to, and the bold is just to seperate the Scripture from what I'm saying. Thoughts?

Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. I take this to mean that the Sabbath was actually a blessing from God to man—the gift of a day of rest—rather than a requirement of God upon men. This suggests that there is some discretion as to how we receive this gift, and if resting and doing nothing would actually be harmful in some circumstances (such as if the disciples were hungry on the Sabbath, or if someone needed healing), then it is better to do something that is good for people than simply rest.

I would agree with that. The thing is, though, that the Sabbath was set aside as holy well before the Law was given. Genesis 2:1-3 says

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

To me it seems that, even though it's not always possible or good to abstain from work, the seventh day, the Shabbat, is still holy. On a holy day it makes sense that it's ok to do that which is holy. What is holy? the work of G-d, I would say. Helping people, healing people, all those things, are good and acceptable and holy. But Shabbat is still a set apart day. It is a time to pause and to remember and to rest and to worship. Even if it's only spiritual rest and not physical rest, the Sabbath is both a holy day and a blessed day. And a day of rest.

People interperate that different ways. I know one person who tries not to work at all on the Sabbath, and I know others who will do only volunteer work and not paid work, and I know still others who work right through with barely a pause. For me, I'm happy to volunteer or help someone out or do work around the house on Shabbat, but I'm not entirely comfortable with working in a paid position. I know and accept that other people may disagree with that.

I would say at the least though, we need to pause and remember. At least that. Shabbat is a time of letting go of tsouris (stress, trouble, burdens), and of just..taking a deep breath and saying thank you. I know that's appropriate any day, but that's what Shabbat is as well.

A friend on a forum I'm on posts a shabbat blessing every week, and it's the high point of my week. You read it and you can feel the stress literally melting. It's a reminder to stop and listen, and to know and to remember.

Anyhow, that's what Shabbat is. A chance to be still and know the He is G-d. And I wouldn't give that up for anything.

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