Ahad Ha'Am (1856-1927)
More than the Jewish People have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jewish People.
וַיְכֻלּ֛וּ הַשָּׁמַ֥יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ וְכָל־צְבָאָֽם׃ וַיְכַ֤ל אֱלֹהִים֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה׃ וַיְבָ֤רֶךְ אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ אֹת֑וֹ כִּ֣י ב֤וֹ שָׁבַת֙ מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים לַעֲשֽׂוֹת׃ אֵ֣לֶּה תוֹלְד֧וֹת הַשָּׁמַ֛יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ בְּהִבָּֽרְאָ֑ם בְּי֗וֹם עֲשׂ֛וֹת ה' אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶ֥רֶץ וְשָׁמָֽיִם׃
The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day G-d finished the work that G-d had been doing, and G-d ceased on the seventh day from all the work that G-d had done. And G-d blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it G-d ceased from all the work of creation that G-d had done. Such is the story of heaven and earth when they were created.
1. What was the reason for the "first" Shabbat?
2. According to this text, why is Shabbat a holy day?
3. Did G-d have to rest on the seventh day?
זָכ֛וֹר֩ אֶת־י֥֨וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖֜ת לְקַדְּשֽׁ֗וֹ: שֵׁ֤֣שֶׁת יָמִ֣ים֙ תַּֽעֲבֹ֔ד֮ וְעָשִׂ֖֣יתָ כָּל־מְלַאכְתֶּֽךָ֒: וְי֙וֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔֜י שַׁבָּ֖֣ת ׀ לַה' אֱלֹהֶ֑֗יךָ לֹֽ֣א־תַעֲשֶׂ֣֨ה כָל־מְלָאכָ֡֜ה אַתָּ֣ה ׀ וּבִנְךָֽ֣־וּ֠בִתֶּ֗ךָ עַבְדְּךָ֤֨ וַאֲמָֽתְךָ֜֙ וּבְהֶמְתֶּ֔֗ךָ וְגֵרְךָ֖֙ אֲשֶׁ֥֣ר בִּשְׁעָרֶֽ֔יךָ: כִּ֣י שֵֽׁשֶׁת־יָמִים֩ עָשָׂ֨ה ה' אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֶת־הַיָּם֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֔ם וַיָּ֖נַח בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֑י עַל־כֵּ֗ן בֵּרַ֧ךְ ה' אֶת־י֥וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖ת וַֽיְקַדְּשֵֽׁהוּ׃
Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the L-rd your G-d: you shall not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. For in six days the L-rd made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and G-d rested on the seventh day; therefore the L-rd blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
1. What does it mean to "remember" the sabbath day?
2. What does this text add to our understanding of Shabbat?
שָׁמ֣֛וֹר אֶת־י֥וֹם֩ הַשַׁבָּ֖֨ת לְקַדְּשׁ֑֜וֹ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוְּךָ֖֣ ׀ ה' אֱלֹהֶֽ֗יךָ: שֵׁ֤֣שֶׁת יָמִ֣ים֙ תַּֽעֲבֹ֔ד֮ וְעָשִׂ֖֣יתָ כָּֿל־מְלַאכְתֶּֽךָ֒׃ וְי֙וֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֜֔י שַׁבָּ֖֣ת ׀ לַה' אֱלֹהֶ֑֗יךָ לֹ֣א תַעֲשֶׂ֣ה כָל־מְלָאכָ֡ה אַתָּ֣ה וּבִנְךָֽ־וּבִתֶּ֣ךָ וְעַבְדְּךָֽ־וַ֠אֲמָתֶךָ וְשׁוֹרְךָ֨ וַחֲמֹֽרְךָ֜ וְכָל־בְּהֶמְתֶּ֗ךָ וְגֵֽרְךָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בִּשְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ לְמַ֗עַן יָנ֛וּחַ עַבְדְּךָ֥ וַאֲמָתְךָ֖ כָּמֽ֑וֹךָ׃ וְזָכַרְתָּ֞֗ כִּ֣י־עֶ֤֥בֶד הָיִ֣֙יתָ֙ ׀ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔֗יִם וַיֹּצִ֨אֲךָ֜֩ ה' אֱלֹהֶ֤֙יךָ֙ מִשָּׁ֔ם֙ בְּיָ֤֥ד חֲזָקָ֖ה֙ וּבִזְרֹ֣עַ נְטוּיָ֑֔ה עַל־כֵּ֗ן צִוְּךָ֙ ה' אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ לַעֲשׂ֖וֹת אֶת־י֥וֹם הַשַׁבָּֽת׃
Observe [guard] the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the L-rd your G-d has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the L-rd your G-d; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or your donkey, or any of your cattle, or the stranger in your settlements, so that your male and female slave may rest as you do. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the L-rd your G-d freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the L-rd your G-d has commanded you to observe the sabbath day.
1. How does this text further our understanding of the reasons we rest on Shabbat?
2. What is the difference between "remembering" Shabbat (above) and "observing" or "guarding" Shabbat? Can you think of any specific examples?
וַיִּלְקְט֤וּ אֹתוֹ֙ בַּבֹּ֣קֶר בַּבֹּ֔קֶר אִ֖ישׁ כְּפִ֣י אָכְל֑וֹ וְחַ֥ם הַשֶּׁ֖מֶשׁ וְנָמָֽס׃ וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁ֗י לָֽקְט֥וּ לֶ֙חֶם֙ מִשְׁנֶ֔ה שְׁנֵ֥י הָעֹ֖מֶר לָאֶחָ֑ד וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ כָּל־נְשִׂיאֵ֣י הָֽעֵדָ֔ה וַיַּגִּ֖ידוּ לְמֹשֶֽׁה׃ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם ה֚וּא אֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבֶּ֣ר ה' שַׁבָּת֧וֹן שַׁבַּת־קֹ֛דֶשׁ לַֽה' מָחָ֑ר אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁר־תֹּאפ֞וּ אֵפ֗וּ וְאֵ֤ת אֲשֶֽׁר־תְּבַשְּׁלוּ֙ בַּשֵּׁ֔לוּ וְאֵת֙ כָּל־הָ֣עֹדֵ֔ף הַנִּ֧יחוּ לָכֶ֛ם לְמִשְׁמֶ֖רֶת עַד־הַבֹּֽקֶר׃ וַיַּנִּ֤יחוּ אֹתוֹ֙ עַד־הַבֹּ֔קֶר כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר צִוָּ֣ה מֹשֶׁ֑ה וְלֹ֣א הִבְאִ֔ישׁ וְרִמָּ֖ה לֹא־הָ֥יְתָה בּֽוֹ׃ וַיֹּ֤אמֶר מֹשֶׁה֙ אִכְלֻ֣הוּ הַיּ֔וֹם כִּֽי־שַׁבָּ֥ת הַיּ֖וֹם לַה' הַיּ֕וֹם לֹ֥א תִמְצָאֻ֖הוּ בַּשָּׂדֶֽה׃ שֵׁ֥שֶׁת יָמִ֖ים תִּלְקְטֻ֑הוּ וּבַיּ֧וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֛י שַׁבָּ֖ת לֹ֥א יִֽהְיֶה־בּֽוֹ׃ וַֽיְהִי֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י יָצְא֥וּ מִן־הָעָ֖ם לִלְקֹ֑ט וְלֹ֖א מָצָֽאוּ׃
[Regarding the manna] So they gathered it every morning, each as much as he needed to eat; for when the sun grew hot, it would melt. On the sixth day they gathered double the amount of food, two omers for each; and when all the chieftains of the community came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the L-rd meant: Tomorrow is a day of rest, a holy sabbath of the L-rd. Bake what you would bake and boil what you would boil; and all that is left put aside to be kept until morning.” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered; and it did not turn foul, and there were no maggots in it. Then Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath of the Lord; you will not find it today on the plain. Six days you shall gather it; on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.” Yet some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found nothing. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you men refuse to obey My commandments and My teachings? Mark that the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you two days’ food on the sixth day. Let everyone remain where he is: let no one leave his place on the seventh day.” So the people remained inactive on the seventh day.
1. Why do you think the people went out on the seventh day, even though they were told not to? Can this teach us anything about Shabbat observance?
אִם־תָּשִׁ֤יב מִשַּׁבָּת֙ רַגְלֶ֔ךָ עֲשׂ֥וֹת חֲפָצֶ֖יךָ בְּי֣וֹם קָדְשִׁ֑י וְקָרָ֨אתָ לַשַּׁבָּ֜ת עֹ֗נֶג לִקְד֤וֹשׁ ה' מְכֻבָּ֔ד וְכִבַּדְתּוֹ֙ מֵעֲשׂ֣וֹת דְּרָכֶ֔יךָ מִמְּצ֥וֹא חֶפְצְךָ֖ וְדַבֵּ֥ר דָּבָֽר׃ אָ֗ז תִּתְעַנַּג֙ עַל־ה' וְהִרְכַּבְתִּ֖יךָ עַל־בָּ֣מֳותֵי אָ֑רֶץ וְהַאֲכַלְתִּ֗יךָ נַחֲלַת֙ יַעֲקֹ֣ב אָבִ֔יךָ כִּ֛י פִּ֥י ה' דִּבֵּֽר׃
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
From pursuing your affairs on My holy day;
If you call the sabbath “delight,”
The Lord’s holy day “honored”;
And if you honor it and go not your ways
Nor look to your affairs, nor strike bargains—
Then you can seek the favor of the Lord.
I will set you astride the heights of the earth,
And let you enjoy the heritage of your father Jacob— For the mouth of the L-rd has spoken.
1. What are the requirements for gaining G-d's favor on Shabbat?
The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel, p. xviii
The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world.
The seventh day is like a palace in time with a kingdom for all. It is not a date but an atmosphere. Is it not a different state of consciousness but a different climate; it is as if the appearance of all things somehow changed. The primary awareness is one of our being within the Sabbath rather than of the Sabbath being within us... The difference between the Sabbath and all other days is not to be noticed in the physical structure of things, in their spatial dimension. Things do not change on that day. There is only a difference in the dimension of time, in the relation of the universe to G-d.
1. What does Heschel mean by "the tyranny of things of space"?
2. How can we create an atmosphere of Shabbat?
"Thinking Shabbat", Rabbi Lawrence Kushner in A Shabbat Reader, p. 199-201
We need a way to describe liberal Jews who are serious about Shabbat. Shomer Shabbat, Keeper of Shabbat, based as it is on the language of the actual commandment in Deuteronomy, could be ideal. Unfortunately it has been appropriated and defined, meticulously and oppressively, by someone else. So we return to the text of the Fourth Commandment and realize that it is said twice, once in Deuteronomy and again in Exodus. In Deuteronomy (5:11) we are told "Shamor," keep the Sabbath. But in Exodus (2;7) the verb is different: we are told "Zachor," remember the Sabbath. Perhaps it is for us to create a new standard of Shabbat behavior called "Zachor Shabbat." One who is "Zocher Shabbat" would remember throughout the day's duration that it was Shabbat. (Not so easy as it first sounds.) We say to one another, Do anything you want--as long as you will remember that it is Shabbat, amd that will insure that whatever you do will be lichvod ha-Shabbat, for the honor of the Shabbat.