A Day of Rest and Holiness

A Day of Rest and Holiness

June 08, 2011 Back
A Day of Rest and Holiness

In Judaism, there is a distinction between the holy and mundane and the distinction between the two is present in a Jew’s life in what foods he may eat and even what sort of language he uses when he speaks.  This distinction also manifests itself in time as well, with certain periods of time being considered holy and others mundane.  Shabbat is one of those time periods consider to be holy.

Shabbat’s Holiness

Shabbat is considered to be a holy day, as G-d stated by the revelation on Sinai that the Jews are to “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.”  However, in Jewish tradition the Sabbath and its holiness existed from the end of creation, as stated in Genesis.  This means that Shabbat is inherently different from the rest of the days of the year, even from Jewish Holidays such as Passover and Rosh HaShanah, where many of the same rules regarding labor apply.

Different Dress, Different Mentality

Shabbat is also different in that the mode of dress is completely different from the rest of the week.  Because Shabbat is considered to be royalty and is referred to in prayers as the “Sabbath Queen”, many Jews dress as they would if hosting royalty.  It is for this reason that in many neighborhoods Jews can be found wearing finery reserved for black-tie events or when meeting a dignitary.

The concept of Shabbat being royalty also affects a Jew’s train of thought on Shabbat.  He does not discuss mundane matters such as business, but instead focuses on spiritual matters and those subjects which interest him.  In addition, the Jew carries himself differently, walking proudly upright like royalty rather than in the bent-over, hurried manner of the rest of the week.  The combination of the different mode of dress and dress enables the Jew to effect a transformation that leads to a spiritual renewal that will last the entire week.

Spiritual Renewal

One way in which Shabbat is different is that it is the day of the week in which Jews experience a spiritual renewal.  Spiritual renewal is nearly impossible if one is preoccupied with work and chores to complete.  This is part of the reason why work is prohibited – on Shabbat Jews reconnect with their ancestral traditions and the Torah.  In addition to this, there is a tradition that one’s spirituality is enhanced on Shabbat with an extra soul that enables him to reach spiritual heights unattainable during the week because of those same stressors.

The concept of Shabbat being a time of spiritual renewal is an old concept but was first explained in detail but the saintly Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, the author of the Kuzari, a work which discussed the spiritual concepts of Judaism including prayer, Shabbat and holidays and their effect on the soul.  In his work, the rabbi states that Shabbat’s state of being holy serves as sustenance to the soul like a physical meal is to the body and it keeps the soul satiated throughout the entire week.

A Taste of the Afterlife

According to the Talmud and other sources, Shabbos is a taste of the afterlife and the World to Come.  In fact, in one of the traditional songs composed for Shabbat, the day is referred to as such.

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