Shabbat: A Sanctuary in Time

The Sabbath Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel p.8, 10

Unlike the space-minded man to whom time is unvaried, iterative, homogeneous, to whom all hours are alike, quality-less, empty shells, the Bible senses the diversified character of time. There are no two hours alike. Every hour is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious.

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; a shrine that even apostasy cannot easily obliterate: the Day of Atonement...

Jewish ritual may be characterized as the art of significant forms in time, as architecture of time. Most of its observances--the Sabbath, the New Moon, the festivals, the Sabbatical and the Jubilee year--depend on a certain hour of the day or season of the year. It is, for example, the evening, morning, or afternoon that brings with it the call to prayer. The main themes of faith lie in the realm of time. We remember the day of the exodus from Egypt, the day when Israel stood at Sinai; and our Messianic hope is the expectation of a day, of the end of days...(p 8)

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...(p.10)

(א) וַיְכֻלּ֛וּ הַשָּׁמַ֥יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ וְכָל־צְבָאָֽם׃ (ב) וַיְכַ֤ל אֱלֹהִים֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה׃ (ג) וַיְבָ֤רֶךְ אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ אֹת֑וֹ כִּ֣י ב֤וֹ שָׁבַת֙ מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים לַעֲשֽׂוֹת׃ (ד) אֵ֣לֶּה תוֹלְד֧וֹת הַשָּׁמַ֛יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ בְּהִבָּֽרְאָ֑ם בְּי֗וֹם עֲשׂ֛וֹת יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶ֥רֶץ וְשָׁמָֽיִם׃

(1) And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. (2) And on the seventh day God finished God's work which God had made; and God rested on the seventh day from all God's work which God had made. (3) And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it God rested from all God's work which God in creating had made. (4) Such is the story of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that ADONAI God made earth and heaven.

(ח) זָכוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ. (ט) שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ. (י) וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ וּבְהֶמְתֶּךָ וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ. (יא) כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ אֶת הַיָּם וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר בָּם וַיָּנַח בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי עַל כֵּן בֵּרַךְ יְהוָה אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת וַיְקַדְּשֵׁהוּ.

(8) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (9) Six days shall you labor, and do all of your work; (10) but the seventh day is a sabbath of Adonai your God: you shall not do any manner of work-- you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements; (11) for in six days ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore ADONAI blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

(יב) שָׁמוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוְּךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ. (יג) שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּֿל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ. (יד) וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ וְעַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתֶךָ וְשׁוֹרְךָ וַחֲמֹרְךָ וְכָל בְּהֶמְתֶּךָ וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יָנוּחַ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ כָּמוֹךָ. (טו) וְזָכַרְתָּ כִּי עֶבֶד הָיִיתָ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וַיֹּצִאֲךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מִשָּׁם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה עַל כֵּן צִוְּךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת.

(12) Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as ADONAI your God has commanded you. (13) Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; (14) but the seventh day is a sabbath unto ADONAI thy God, in it thou shalt not do any work--your, your son or your daughter, your male or female servant, your ox or your ass, or any of your cattle, or the stranger in your settlements, so that your male and female servant may rest as you do. (15) Remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and ADONAI your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore ADONAI your God has commanded you to observe the sabbath day.

(טז) זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה לִקְטוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִישׁ לְפִי אָכְלוֹ עֹמֶר לַגֻּלְגֹּלֶת מִסְפַּר נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם אִישׁ לַאֲשֶׁר בְּאָהֳלוֹ תִּקָּחוּ. (יז) וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כֵן בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּלְקְטוּ הַמַּרְבֶּה וְהַמַּמְעִיט. (יח) וַיָּמֹדּוּ בָעֹמֶר וְלֹא הֶעְדִּיף הַמַּרְבֶּה וְהַמַּמְעִיט לֹא הֶחְסִיר אִישׁ לְפִי אָכְלוֹ לָקָטוּ. (יט) וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ אַל יוֹתֵר מִמֶּנּוּ עַד בֹּקֶר. (כ) וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיּוֹתִרוּ אֲנָשִׁים מִמֶּנּוּ עַד בֹּקֶר וַיָּרֻם תּוֹלָעִים וַיִּבְאַשׁ וַיִּקְצֹף עֲלֵהֶם מֹשֶׁה. (כא) וַיִּלְקְטוּ אֹתוֹ בַּבֹּקֶר בַּבֹּקֶר אִישׁ כְּפִי אָכְלוֹ וְחַם הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְנָמָס. (כב) וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי לָקְטוּ לֶחֶם מִשְׁנֶה שְׁנֵי הָעֹמֶר לָאֶחָד וַיָּבֹאוּ כָּל נְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה וַיַּגִּידוּ לְמֹשֶׁה. (כג) וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם הוּא אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה שַׁבָּתוֹן שַׁבַּת קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה מָחָר אֵת אֲשֶׁר תֹּאפוּ אֵפוּ וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר תְּבַשְּׁלוּ בַּשֵּׁלוּ וְאֵת כָּל הָעֹדֵף הַנִּיחוּ לָכֶם לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת עַד הַבֹּקֶר. (כד) וַיַּנִּיחוּ אֹתוֹ עַד הַבֹּקֶר כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה וְלֹא הִבְאִישׁ וְרִמָּה לֹא הָיְתָה בּוֹ. (כה) וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אִכְלֻהוּ הַיּוֹם כִּי שַׁבָּת הַיּוֹם לַיהוָה הַיּוֹם לֹא תִמְצָאֻהוּ בַּשָּׂדֶה. (כו) שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תִּלְקְטֻהוּ וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לֹא יִהְיֶה בּוֹ. (כז) וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי יָצְאוּ מִן הָעָם לִלְקֹט וְלֹא מָצָאוּ. (כח) וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה עַד אָנָה מֵאַנְתֶּם לִשְׁמֹר מִצְו‍ֹתַי וְתוֹרֹתָי. (כט) רְאוּ כִּי יְהוָה נָתַן לָכֶם הַשַּׁבָּת עַל כֵּן הוּא נֹתֵן לָכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי לֶחֶם יוֹמָיִם שְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחְתָּיו אַל יֵצֵא אִישׁ מִמְּקֹמוֹ בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי. (ל) וַיִּשְׁבְּתוּ הָעָם בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִעִי.

(16)This is what the Lord has commanded: Gather as much of it as each of you requires to eat, an omer to a person for as many of you as there are; each of you shall fetch for those in his tent." 17 The Israelites did so, some gathering much, some little. 18 But when they measured it by the omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no deficiency: they had gathered as much as they needed to eat. 19 And Moses said to them, "Let no one leave any of it over until morning." 20 But they paid no attention to Moses; some of them left of it until morning, and it became infested with maggots and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 So they gathered it every morning, each as much as he needed to eat; for when the sun grew hot, it would melt. 22 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, 23 he said to them, "This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a day of rest, a holy sabbath of the Lord. Bake what you would bake and boil what you would boil; and all that is left put aside to be kept until morning." 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered; and it did not turn foul, and there were no maggots in it. 25 Then Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath of the Lord; you will not find it today on the plain. 26 Six days you shall gather it; on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none."

27 Yet some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found nothing. 28 And the Lord said to Moses, "How long will you men refuse to obey My commandments and My teachings? 29 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." 30 So the people remained inactive on the seventh day.

(טז) וְשָׁמְרוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת לְדֹרֹתָם בְּרִית עוֹלָם. (יז) בֵּינִי וּבֵין בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹת הִוא לְעֹלָם כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שָׁבַת וַיִּנָּפַשׁ.

(16) The People Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant for all time. (17) It shall be a sign for all time between Me and the People Israel for ever; for in six days ADONAI made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day God ceased from work and was refreshed.’

(ב) אבות מלאכות ארבעים חסר אחת .הזורע.והחורש.והקוצר.והמעמר.הדש.והזורה.הבורר.הטוחן.והמרקד.והלש.והאופה.הגוזז את הצמר.המלבנו.והמנפצו.והצובעו.והטווה.והמסך.והעושה שני בתי נירין.והאורג שני חוטין.והפוצע שני חוטין.הקושר.והמתיר.והתופר שתי תפירות.הקורע על מנת לתפר שתי תפירות.הצד צבי.השוחטו.והמפשיטו.המולחו, והמעבד את עורו.והמוחקו.והמחתכו.הכותב שתי אותיות.והמוחק על מנת לכתב שתי אותיות.הבונה.והסותר .המכבה.והמבעיר.המכה בפטיש.המוציא מרשות לרשות.הרי אלו אבות מלאכות ארבעים חסר אחת.

(2) The avot melachot [major categories of work forbidden on Shabbat] are forty minus one: sowing, plowing, harvesting, binding sheaves together, threshing, winnowing, sorting, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, shearing wool, whitening it, beating it, dyeing it, spinning, weaving, making two loops, weaving two threads, separating two threads, tying, untying, sewing two stitches, tearing for the purpose of sewing two stitches, hunting a deer, slaughtering it, flaying it, salting it, curing its skin, scraping it, cutting it, writing two letters, erasing for the purpose of writing two letters, building, demolishing, extinguishing [a flame], kindling [a flame], striking with a hammer, carrying from one domain to another. These are the major categories of work [forbidden on Shabbat] - forty minus one.

(א) ארבעה דברים נאמרו בשבת שנים מן התורה ושנים מדברי סופרים והן מפורשין על ידי הנביאים. שבתורה זכור ושמור. ושנתפרשו על ידי הנביאים כבוד ועונג שנאמר וקראת לשבת עונג ולקדוש ה' מכובד.

(Selections)Four things were said about Shabbat – two originate from the Torah, and two originate from the words of the Sages and are explicated by the prophets. From the Torah: "Zakhor" ["Remember" Shabbat] and "Shamor" ["Observe" Shabbat]. Explicated by the prophets: kavod [displaying honor] and oneg [enjoying oneself], as it says, "and you shall call Shabbat "[a day of] delight," and the sacred [day] of the Lord, "a respected [day]."...

(ג) ומכבוד השבת שילבש כסות נקיה. ולא יהיה מלבוש החול כמלבוש השבת. ואם אין לו להחליף משלשל טליתו כדי שלא יהא מלבושו כמלבוש החול. ועזרא תיקן שיהו העם מכבסים בחמישי מפני כבוד השבת. (ה) מסדר אדם שולחנו בערב שבת ואף על פי שאינו צריך אלא לכזית. וכן מסדר שולחנו במוצאי שבת ואף על פי שאינו צריך אלא לכזית. כדי לכבדו בכניסתו וביציאתו. וצריך לתקן ביתו מבעוד יום מפני כבוד השבת. ויהיה נר דלוק ושולחן ערוך לאכול ומטה מוצעת שכל אלו לכבוד שבת הן. (ז) איזהו עונג זהו שאמרו חכמים שצריך לתקן תבשיל שמן ביותר ומשקה מבושם לשבת הכל לפי ממונו של אדם. וכל המרבה בהוצאת שבת ובתיקון מאכלים רבים וטובים הרי זה משובח. ואם אין ידו משגת אפילו לא עשה אלא שלק וכיוצא בו משום כבוד שבת הרי זה עונג שבת. ואינו חייב להצר לעצמו ולשאול מאחרים כדי להרבות במאכל בשבת. אמרו חכמים הראשונים עשה שבתך חול ואל תצטרך לבריות. (יד) תשמיש המטה מעונג שבת הוא. לפיכך עונת תלמידי חכמים הבריאים משמשין מלילי שבת ללילי שבת. ומותר לבעול בתולה לכתחלה בשבת ואין בזה לא משום חובל ולא משום צער לה.


3. Honoring Shabbat involves also putting on clean clothes, so as not to wear the same clothes on both weekdays and Sabbaths.

5. One should set his table properly on Friday night, even if he feels no need for more than an olive's bulk of food... One should also, in honor of Shabbat, get his room ready, while it is still day on Friday, by having a lamp lit, a table laid, and a couch properly spread. For all these are marks of reverence for Shabbat.

7. What is Shabbat's delight? This is explained by the statement of the Sages that one should prepare for Shabbat the richest victuals and the choicest beverages that one can afford. The more one spends for Shabbat and for the preparation of numerous and tasty dishes, the more praiseworthy he is.

8. If a person has been reared in luxury and wealth, so that all of his days are like Shabbat, he should make his Shabbat food differ in some way from his weekday food.

14. Cohabitation is likewise regarded as Shabbat's delight.


"Thinking Shabbat" Rabbi Lawrence Kusher in A Shabbat Reader p 199-201

My grandfather, alav ha-shalom [may he rest in peace], a German Reform Jew, used to make Pesach as follows. We would religiously remove leaven or hometz [leavened products] which we defined as bread and cereal) from our home and stash it in an off-limits cupboard. Though we were conscientious, we were also human and oversights did occur. I remember once, a few days into Passover, how we found a box of "The Breakfast of Champions" that one of us boys, months earlier, must have taken to an unlikely place and forgotten about.

"Look, Grandpa, some hometz we missed. What should we do?" "What hometz?" he said, staring right at the cereal box. "This one here," I said. "I don't see it." he replied. And I understood.

You do the very best you can. But when the deadline comes, whether or not you are done, you announce that you are done...

...Work is to Shabbat like hometz is to Pesach. Come twilight on Friday afternoon I announce: All my jobs, tasks, and work, whether they are done or not, I hereby declare done. I reject their claim on me. I deny their existence...

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.