Sunday, February 8, 2009

What Is Shabbat

Shabbat, the Hebrew word for the Sabbath, is the seventh day of the week. It is the day on which the Torah states that God rested from His work of creation.

“And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their hosts. And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because on it He rested from all His work that God in creating had made” (Genesis 2:1-3).

The name “Shabbat” derives from the Hebrew word lishbot, which means to rest. Since the seventh day was the day that God rested from working, and on which the Jewish people were commanded to rest from working, it is known as “the day of rest.”

It is not just that God finished his work and rested on the seventh day; the Torah explains that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. The seventh day therefore became God’s special day.

When God designated the Jewish people as His people, the ones who were to be an am kadosh, a holy nation, He shared His special day with them. The giving of the Torah at Sinai is compared by the sages to a wedding, with God as the groom and the Jewish people as the bride. Like a typical groom, God gave the bride a gift, and the gift He gave the Jewish people was Shabbat (Talmud Shabbat 10b): “The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said to Moses: I have a special gift in my treasure house and Shabbat is its name, and I wish to give it to Israel. Go and make it known to them.”

Twebrew School: Shabbat is brought to you on behalf of Shabbat Across America and Shabbat Across Canada, the only cross-continental celebration of Shabbat. The fourteenth annual SAA/C will take place on March 5, 2010. To learn more, click here.

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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