Take a Rest! The Importance of Shabbat

The importance of observing Shabbat is emphasized in Parshat Ki Tisa.

Shmot 31:13- ".You must still preserve (tishmoru) My Shabbat, for it is a sign between Me and yourselves for generations to know that I, HaShem am making you holy. You shall therefore preserve (ushmartem) the Shabbat for it is sacred to you.Six days a week you will work but the seventh day is a Shabbat of complete rest, sacred to God.Then B.nai Yisrael shall preserve (vishamru) the Shabbat to maintain the Shabbat for their generations, as an everlasting covenant. Between Me and B.nai Yisrael it is an everlasting sign; for in six days God made the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day he abstained from work (Shavat) and He rested (Vayinafash)."

According to Rav Kook in Shavat HaAretz "The bustle and confusion of every day affairs stifles the spiritual majesty of the Divine soul (residing in the nation) whose luster is prevented from illuminating the predominant material reality. The quality of life can be improved by affording a breathing space from the bustle of every day affairs. In this way the individual recovers from the influence of the mundane at frequent intervals, every Shabbat day."

The Chatam Sofer points out that not only do we have to rest on Shabbat, we also have to work the other six days of the week. If we don.t work the rest of the week then Shabbat will not serve as a reminder of the Exodus of Egypt when B.nai Yisrael finally rested after all of their hard work.

In the State of Israel we have a six day work week. The children go to school every day except for Shabbat. When Shabbat finally arrives the importance of Shabbat is felt.

The word Shabbat actually means to abstain from work. When workers in Israel go on strike they call it a "Shvita".

The root of the word "vayinafash" is "nofesh". In modern Hebrew "nofesh" is used in advertisements for Club Med style vacation getaways. Shabbat is the day to spiritually get away from the mundane. Rabbi Benjamin Blech explains that we work in order to have a day of rest and "resoul" ourselves and the rest of the world.

As Shabbat approaches, let.s keep in mind the true purpose of Shabbat and try to elevate ourselves to higher spiritual heights.