Friday, October 22, 2021

The Gift of Shabbos

Throughout thousands of years in several different continents and tumultuous eras, the Jewish people strictly adhered to the Shabbos observance. Shabbos observance is unlike other mitzvahs in its importance and its seriousness to the life of a Jew. An individual that observes the laws of Shabbos is essentially subscribing to a fundamental tenet of Judaism. The basic article of faith is that G-d created this world in six days and rested on the seventh day. I would like to explore the meaning of G-d “resting” on the seventh day. Obviously, it cannot mean G-d was tired and fatigued from a challenging week at work in a way that us mortal beings get tired at the office. So what does it mean that G-d “rested”? Furthermore, why, just because God rested, should we all rest? There are plenty of things that an infinite, eternal, Al-Mighty G-d can do that mortal beings cannot even begin to dream of accomplishing!! Rashi in his commentary on the creation of the world in Berieshes states that after the six days of creation, the world was deficient of Menucha. At the onset of Shabbos, Menucha arrived as well. Menucha is traditionally understood to be rest, but applying the word rest in this context leaves something lacking in understanding. Our Rabbis have taught a profound interpretation into this passage. At the conclusion of the six days, G-d created a perfect physical world and was complete. It contained mountains and valleys, oceans and rivers and lions, tigers and bears! (oh my!) Although the world was complete in the physical realm, it still lacked in one major area. It lacked the spark of G-d’s existence and the intense manifestation of His presence. When Shabbos came, the world experienced an intense spiritual manifestation of His presence like no other time. This idea is expressed in the Kiddush we recite every Friday night in the words of תְּחִלָּה לְמִקְרָאֵי קֹֽדֶשׁ . This is translated as first to the holy gatherings or convocations. That is because this Shabbos experience was like no other in which the manifestation of G-d presence is present in our lives like no other time. For thousands of years, the Jewish People have been at the brink of survival, and it is not an exaggeration to say that it is in no small part to its commitment to Shabbos that allowed it to survive to this very day. A few years ago, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa started the Shabbos Project to share the gift of Shabbos with a wider group of our brothers and sisters who are not fortunate to regularly take advantage of regularly this treasure. Over the last few years, the Shabbos Project has exploded in popularity and we are fortunate to host a program in our community this year. The Jacksonville Kollel is hosting a phenomenal program tonight for the community and partnering with our shul tomorrow to bring this three thousand year plus gift to a wider audience of our Jewish brothers and sisters in Greater Jacksonville. There was a ton of effort and energy by many people that was invested in making this Shabbos Project, and on behalf of a grateful community and appreciative Klal Yisroel, I simply nod my head in gratitude. For all those invested in increasing the cause of Godliness in this world through the observance of Torah and Mitzvos-- it doesn’t get much better than this!!! Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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