The Day of Emuna
The Sabbath is an opportunity for a person to reconnect with his own soul, to get off the mad-rush carousel and ponder what life is all about...
Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Sabbath is the foundation of emuna; in fact, the Zohar calls the Sabbath, "day of emuna". Our sages had limitless praise for the day of Sabbath and said that Sabbath is equivalent in importance to all six days of creation combined. Sabbath is the epitome of creation's purpose, since all the creations are intended to assist a person in attaining emuna and humility.
Nothing in creation so helps a person attain emuna as the Sabbath. The Sabbath is an opportunity for a person to reconnect with his own soul, to get off the mad-rush carousel and ponder what life is all about. Am I here to earn money and fame? Will bodily pleasures bring me lasting happiness? People without the benefit of a day of respite from material endeavors never get to ask themselves such basic questions in life.
Not any day of rest will do. The Sabbath is a day that Hashem sanctified, especially conducive for holiness and enhanced spirituality. It's also a wonderful day to reconnect with immediate family, relatives and friends. Sabbath is a day for self-composure.
One of the basic reasons that Hashem commanded that the seventh day be a day of rest is to show that the world was not just created in ancient times and set into motion on "automatic pilot", but it is created anew every single week during the six days of handicraft. The seventh day of each week is therefore a day of rest, when one abstains from the thirty-nine different archetypes of handicraft. Observing the seventh day as the Sabbath helps us internalize the emuna that Hashem creates the world in six days and rests on the seventh. Hashem is not only Creator, but Director of creation as well, whose ongoing decisions and actions are the manifestations of Divine will that sustain every single creation every single moment. This is the basic tenet of our faith. If one understands this point, one understands the key principle of life.
Observance of the Sabbath deepens our awareness of the fact that Hashem creates and controls the universe and all of creation. Our abstention from work on the seventh day of the week gives us an opportunity to ponder this vital principle.
Our abstinence from work on the seventh day is testimony to our emuna that Hashem alone created the entire universe ex nihilo. Not only is He the Creator, but He is the Director of everything that happens on earth. He personally directs our lives with a mind-boggling individual and super-precise process of Divine Providence. Hashem not only creates the great galaxies of which our solar system is no more than a pin-head, but He alone decides the fate of an individual cell in a person's body at a particular moment. The Sabbath helps us realize how indescribably great Hashem is, and how minuscule we are in comparison. We should therefore accustom ourselves to seeking Hashem's assistance all day long: "Hashem, have mercy on me; help me accomplish my mission on earth. Strengthen my emuna and bring me close to You. Show me every moment that You alone run the world!"
A person's enjoyment and benefit from the Sabbath are commensurate to a person's emuna in the sanctity of the Sabbath. This emuna serves as a proper spiritual vessel for Divine abundance, which manifests itself in more emuna and all sorts of spiritual and material blessings. The Sabbath recharges one's "emuna battery". This day is different from all others; just as we are commanded to eat and drink in moderation during the week as we learned earlier, on the Sabbath we're commanded to eat the finest delicacies we can afford and to drink the finest beverages. The Sabbath is a day of sublime pleasure for body and soul. Most of all, we take pleasure in the Creator and in our prayers to Him. The more we take pleasure in the Creator, the more we get to know Him; the more we get to know Him, the greater our pleasure. Sabbath and emuna together therefore trigger a beautiful upward spiral of spirituality.
In order to enhance our emuna and our yearning for Hashem, we must look forward to the Sabbath all week long, each person in his or her own way. A person might buy a fancy cut of meat or a bottle of fine wine on Tuesday, and say, "This is in honor of Shabbat!" Someone might start cooking special dishes or baking challah in the middle of the week and also say, "This is in honor of Shabbat!" Yet another person might remember the Sabbath in his personal prayer on Thursday night and say, "Hashem, help me observe and cherish the Sabbath in the very best way I can." Every time we remember the Sabbath, we are fulfilling a positive mitzva of Torah – one of the Ten Commandments – which commands us to, "Remember the day of Sabbath and keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8).