27 Kislev 5767, December 18, 2006

Pay attention, open up and allow HaShem to speak His Words of Living Torah directly into your mind and heart...
The Sabbath
By HaRav Ariel Bar Tzadok. Copyright (C) 2006 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.

A long time ago in a land and culture very far away, a prophet spoke about the important of properly observing the Sabbath day. 

Sabbath is a day of rest, but it is more than a mere day off from work, it is a special time, as the words of the prophet attest.  Read the prophet’s words and let us contemplate their meanings.

If you turn away on Shabat from your path, doing your pleasures on my holy day and you call Shabat pleasurable to sanctify honorable G-d, and you honor it by not doing your way, from finding your desire and speaking a thing, then shall you take pleasure in G-d and He will ride you upon the high places of the land and give you to eat of the inheritance of Jacob your father for the mouth of G-d has spoken.

Turn away on Shabat from your path – on this one day, you cease being the center of your own universe and look outside of yourself to see a greater world.

Doing your pleasures on my holy day – pleasures serve the body, the Sabbath serves the soul.  Only one who recognizes that one has an inner reality alongside one’s outer reality can withdraw from physical pleasures and pursuits and focus on what is truly important.  One violates the Sabbath when one over-indulges in eating.

Call Sabbath pleasurable to sanctify honorable G-d – the pursuit of inner truth and spiritual enlightenment is the truest source of personal contentment and happiness.  When one discovers this inner self-fulfillment, this gives honor to G-d in whose Image we are created.  True Sabbath observance is about providing rest for the soul, there is no greater rest for the soul than to receive renewed strength from its source within.

Honor it by not doing your way – Honor means showing respect, respect is what you do, how you act.  When you act with relaxation, you honor the Sabbath.  One must put aside all the weekday concepts of proper attire and a rigid schedule.  One should dress in the most casual and comfortable of clothes and spend the day with family doing non-strenuous things, leaving nighttime for silent meditation and contemplation of the greater truths of things.

From finding your desire – Life is good, the universe is generous, just remember that you are not its center.  Sabbath has to be a commitment to relax, to act differently, to force yourself to think and look at the universe in a different light than what is normally done.  Withdraw, do not engage.  Sit back, do not stand up.  Be happy with what you have, forget about pursuing what you do not.  On Sabbath, the universe does not stop; it is we who must stop and let the universe go on by.  Not to worry, when Sabbath ends we return to the world in the exact place where we are meant to be, only now we are refreshed, strengthened, revived, renewed, ready to take on the universe fresh and use the work week to our benefit and gain. Yes, the work week is for our gain and so too is the Sabbath.

And speaking a thing – Great rule of the Sabbath: guard your tongue.  Do not even speak about those things unrelated to the moment.  Where you think is where you are at.  What you speak reveals your thoughts.  Your thoughts and words can take you out of Sabbath; do not do this.  Forget about the past and future; live in the present, in the moment.

When one properly safeguards the Sabbath within one’s mind and by one’s actions, the radiant energy of the Sabbath will shine upon you during the weekdays and in turn safeguard one from mishaps that occur due to one’s own short sightedness.

Note: The proper ritual observance of the Sabbath for Jewish people must be learned from competent and qualified authorities of Torah.  Only when observed properly can a Jew honor the Sabbath as a commemoration of freedom and of the Exodus from Egypt.  A Gentile may adopt their own Sabbath and honor and respect it any way they please in commemoration of the Sabbath of creation, as long as they do not endeavor to copy the Jewish ritual observances.  Sabbath is for everyone.  How it is honored and observed depends upon who you are.  The general rule here applies: be who you, be not who you are not.
Shalom, Ariel Bar Tzadok

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