Rabbi Alan Ullman: This is not just the first mention of Shabbat in the Torah, it is also the first occurence of the word קדש, holiness. Holiness here––and throughout the Bible–– is defined by the act of stopping. Before we can discover the holiness within our lives, we must first imitate God and stop.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year. The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither the Romans nor the Germans were able to burn . . . . 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 Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus, Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg p. 272: "In kabbalistic imagery, the classic mapping of the world yields six compass points: the four directions, up and down; the seventh point represents the heart of the matter, the nub of the world. As in the relation of the Shabbath to the six days of the week, or of the Shemitta (Sabbatical) year to the six years of agricultural labor, the seventh of the series is the hidden meaning, the truth that cannot be translated into other terms. The elusive origin of God's voice represents the seventh point. Where it is to be found, if not at the heart of the vortex? After all the explorations of desire, there is a return to a still point: "the still point of the turning world. [quoting T.S. Eliot's 'Four Quartets']"
From "Introduction" in How to Be a Shabbes Queen: Supporting Shabbat practice in your community
For six days we try to create a mroe just and compassionate world, and for one we rest our minds, hearts, and bodies from even these most crucial efforts. We conjure up ancient memories and we envision starry futures, in which perhaps all that we are fighting for is present, and we can release into it, and be. We return rejuvenated, and remembering something about why we do the work.
Shabbes for its own sake, a taste of the world to come. For the sake of sharing food and songs and walks and slowness and cuddles and naps, of joy, revelry, and compassion to ourselves. Because it's too easy to forget that this it he point of being alive.
Each week when I light the Shabbes candles, it feels like a gift I am giving myself. Thsi is the part of the blessing of my Shabbes practice being my own choice. A gift of entering into another space, a different relationship to Time, a time-out from value in productivity, that can be hard to take fully without structure for it. Closing the door, as much as is possible, for a day, on capitalism. Opening the door for my second soul to come in and play.
"Radical Shabbat: Free Time, Free People" Arthur Waskow Sojourners, May-June 2000
In short, the Jewish Sabbath is a day for being, not for making. [...] Doing, working, making are not intrinsically evil. Modernity has made possible much that is valuable. But a society that never pauses to catch its breath and reflect on its values, never pauses to love and affirm community and family such a society forms "making" into a grotesque mockery and turns production, consumption, and overwork into idols.
Eric Fromm, The Sane Society (p.348):
A relatively primitive village in which there are still real feasts, common artistic shared expressions, and no literacy at all – is more advanced culturally and more healthy mentally than our educated, newspaper-reading radio-listening culture.
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.
The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis, Nahum M. Sarna at 14: The ascending order of Creation, and the "six-plus-one" literary pattern that determines the presentation of of the narrative, dictates that the seventh day be the momentous climax. Man is indeed the pinnacle of Creation, but central to the cosmogonic drama is the work of God, the solo performer. The account of Creation opened with a statement about God; it will now close with a statement about God. The seventh day is the Lord's Day, through which all the creativity of the preceding days achieves fulfillment. The threefold repetition of the day number indicates its paramount importance within the cosmic whole. The seventh day is in polar contrast to the other six days, which are filled with creative activity. Its distinctive character is the desistance from labor and its infusion with blessing and sanctity. This renders unnecessary the routine approbation formula ["there was evening and there was morning...]. An integral part of the divinely ordained cosmic order, it cannot be abrogated by man. Its blessed and sacred character is a cosmic reality entirely independent of human effort.
The Meaning of Holiness in Judaism, David S. Shapiro at 51: "The Sabbath was the first realm in the created world to be sanctified. "And God blessed the Sabbath day and He hallowed it" (Gen. 2:3). God saw everything that He had made and behold it was very good (ibid. 1:31). He also blessed the creatures that He had fashioned, the fishes, the birds, and human beings, but nothing created was specifically endowed with holiness till the Sabbath arrived. He then hallowed it just as he tendered His blessing to it. From this primordially sanctified segment of time derive all other phases of sanctified time, such as the New Moons, the Festivals, the Day of Atonement, the Sabbatical Year and the Year of Jubilee. All other forms of holiness in the universe are likewise grounded in this original sanctity. On the Sabbath the Space of the universe is sanctified—thus establishing sanctity in Space. The Spirit of man who had been created on the sixth day was likewise sanctified on the Sabbath—thus making possible the sanctity in Spirit."