Thursday, December 3, 2009

Experiencing Shabbat Every Day

Every week I feel that I need Shabbat more than the previous week. For me and my family, it’s a time to reconnect to ourselves, to each other, and to Hashem. We can spend time together without making plans, take more time with our prayers in shul, learn and share ideas on the weekly Torah portion, enjoy our favorite foods, and of course take a holy Shabbos shluff.

But Shabbat is much more than these experiences. Rav Avraham Danzig, an important Lithuanian scholar in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, writes in his well-known halachic work Chayei Adam an important introduction to the laws of Shabbat. The commandment to remember Shabbat does not only apply on Shabbat itself; we are commanded to remember Shabbat every day.

This relates to the story of Shammai in the Tractate Beitza; when he would walk through the marketplace and find an especially nice item, he would purchase it and say, “This is special for Shabbat.”

Additionally, when we count the days of the week in Hebrew, on Sunday we say, Hayom yom rishon l’Shabbat, this is the first day of Shabbat. Shabbat is mentioned every day because every day draws blessing from it. The first three days of the week draw from the Shabbat that has just passed, and the last three days of the week draw from the coming Shabbat.

Shabbat is not a once-a-week event, but rather a consciousness that is meant to instill each and every day with a proper perspective. Shabbat is the foundation of faith with which God created the world; yet during the six days, we can lose focus of the Source of our creative energy. It’s easy to keep one’s priorities straight sitting at a table filled with family, food, and a long morning in shul. But remembering that Hashem is at the center of our lives on a Tuesday night when one is overstressed, underpaid, and lacking sleep is not as easy. Finding Shabbat hidden in each day means seeing Hashem as the Creator of the World in each moment, whether it is filled with success or with challenge.

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