Let My People Know

"When Shabbat comes we try to observe the world from a perspective that is closer to that of the Creator"


It is hard to appreciate labor as an almost Divine manifestation when we are working very hard, so immersed in the work that we don't remember what we do or why. 

Part of the purpose of a holiday is to have time for respite, not in order to flee from labor, but in order to be able to gain perspective–to think about what we do and why we do it.

The Jewish calendar commands that we do this every week. 

For six days, we are creative and productive, perfecting the world physically (through work) and spiritually (through the performance of mitzvot–obligations or good deeds). 

When Shabbat comes, we stop our frenzied activity, and neither create nor destroy. 

We may exhaust ourselves lifting furniture all day, but we may not lift a switch to turn on a light even once. 

From sundown to sundown, we pull back from our mastery and perfection of the world. 

And in the stillness of our surrender, we try to observe the world from a perspective that is closer to that of the Creator.

The bad luck of the ant is not that it works so hard, but that it hasn't the time or the intelligence to appreciate its work. 

Man has the advantage of being able to give himself a day off or a week or even a month–not because doing nothing is important, but because he needs to stop and look around in order to understand where he is in the big picture and where he should be.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From a essay, "Rest for the Weary Laborer," by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz