"So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,
because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:3)

The meaning of Shabbat Rest

“Shabbat” is a Hebrew word for Sabbath, the sixth day of the week. In Judaism, this day is considered to be one of the most important holidays. It is a day of rest and renewal, so much so that it created a term that is used by many today, “Shabbat Rest”. Shabbat rest is a spiritual break from the busy week, a time to stop work and reconnect with purpose and spirituality. Both Jews and Christians respect and adhere to the spiritual blessing that comes with God’s command in regard to “Sabbath Rest”. The only difference between Christians and Jews is that one celebrates the Sabbath on Saturday and one on Sunday: both have the same Biblical meanings but differ in the way they celebrate… Jews have carried out God’s traditions for centuries as the Faithful chosen ones. Just as the Jews did back in Jesus day, they also celebrated the Shabbat in the same way Jews do today.

The Bible tells us that God created the Sabbath after he created the world. “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:3). This verse shows the real purpose of this holiday. Some think that it is a day filled with religious do’s and don’ts, a day of strict religious observance, a hindrance and of little enjoyment. As we will explore in this article, the truth can’t be farther from this perception.

First, we can clearly see that man did not invent Shabbat – God did. God made Shabbat for us as a blessing- a blessing that is to be enjoyed. If you talk to most Jews in Israel, they will most likely say how wonderful it is to have a “Shabbat”. It is the most anticipated day of the week! God created this day for a reason, because He knew that humans would not know how to just stop working, being busy and doing… how to stop and relax to enjoy His creation! God knew this, so He COMMANDED that we observe Shabbat, following His example. It is commanded that on Shabbat, we rest from our week of work and worry. Shabbat is a joyous occasion that is not meant to be a burden.

Depending on the tradition, Shabbat is spent shifting the focus from the material world of earning and spending money to the deeper spiritual world: prayer, reading, enjoying one’s family and God’s creation. In most Jewish homes, Shabbat is ushered in on Friday night by women and young girls lighting two “shabbat” candles at the dinner table, where a special family meal is served. The meal consists of challah bread, fish or meat, and other special “treats” that normally aren’t eaten throughout the week. The point of this special meal is to sanctify (or “set apart”) and set the mood . Prayers and blessings are said, and the evening is enjoyed in synagogues and at home, with family and friends. While some traditional requirements might be challenging to fulfill, every part of the tradition was created over centuries to help the whole family make the transition.

Shabbat is a sanctified, holy day that can help us reconnect and enjoy the week to come. In our fast paced world, this is a time to be free from busyness and our physical needs. Most of us find it hard to do even on Sundays. How many of us experience the rest of the whole day? So many times we continue shopping, planning and getting ready for the week to come, surfing the net, catching up on laundry, cleaning, going out or watching television. These chores and duties get in the way of really enjoying the precious gift God has given us – time.

The Jewish roots of Christianity point us to important values hidden away in layers of historical tradition of biblical interpretation. By reconnecting to some elements of Jewish tradition, our spiritual lives can be made more rich and fulfilling. Shabbat is one of those pearls, if you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with one of your friends and close ones and help us continue building a bridge of love between Jews and Christians. Together, we are stronger!

Shabbat Shalom to you all

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