Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green
Either You're With Us, Or...
This week's parsha forces us to make a decision. Either you're with us - or
you're with the atheists. The first three (Hebrew) words state "In the
beginning G-d created." There is no way around it. Belief in Torah is
necessarily characterized by the belief that G-d designed and created the
heavens, the earth, and all therein.
The Torah states that G-d created the world in six days. Notwithstanding
that there was no sun in the sky to gauge the length of a day, until the
fourth day. And Rashi, the commentator states that the entire creation
remained in potential until man, the reason for creation, was actually
created. At that point everything actually sprang forth into reality.
After the first six days G-d's rested. That means that G-d ceased and
desisted from any further creative activity. From now on the completed
creation continues to be plugged in to the life force which G-d animates
the universe with, but now the creation seemingly works on its own.
As a great kindness the Jewish People, G-d gave us his Torah, and He gives
us the great honor of sharing Shabbos with us as well.
Here is what Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi documents as the words of the King of the
Kuzar's in the work "The Kuzari" (14th century) regarding the topic of Shabbos.
"Says the Kuzari: ' I have already thought into your matters, and I have
seen that G-d has a secret for preserving you (the Jewish People in the
diaspora). And that the Shabboses and the Festivals are among the greatest
causes of defining your character and your beauty. For the nations would
have divided you and taken you as slaves due to your understanding and pure
intellect, and they would have drafted you into their armies if it had not
been for the Shabboses and Festivals which you guard so carefully. (Your
reason for doing so is) because they are G-d-given, and (founded) in strong
reasoning, such as in commemoration of the creation, and the Exodus from
Egypt, or the Giving of the Torah. All of them are from a G-dly source
(and) you are exhorted to guard them. If it wouldn't be for them, you would
never dress up in fine clothing, and you would never gather to remember
your Torah, out of sheer lowliness inflicted upon you by your ongoing
exile. Without those (days) you would never take pleasure any day in your
length of days. (In guarding the Shabboses and the Festivals) you already
have almost one sixth of your days dedicated to a resting of body and soul,
which even the Nobleman cannot enjoy. (This is) because they don't have
true rest on their day of rest, for if they need to work and be on the go
on those days, they'll go and work hard. Consequently they don't have a
complete rest. If it wouldn't be for your days of rest all of (the income
from) your hard work would ultimately be for others since it is always in
danger of being plundered. Consequently, by spending on Shabbos and the
Festivals your are realizing (spiritual) profit in this world and the next,
since you are spending it for the sake of heaven.
The Kuzar is basically saying that Shabbos observance has preserved us as a
people, and given us our character, beauty, and dignity over the many
centuries of exile and wandering throughout the many countries we have
lived in. We gain spiritually and physically from observing Shabbos and the
Lastly, through Shabbos observance we are asserting our faith in the
Creation of the universe, and our belief in His providence over us. We are
G-d's representatives making His presence more profoundly pronounced in the
Shabbos is basic to Jewish life. Without it, Torah observance loses its
meaning. Without Shabbos, we would have become a non-descript people long
ago, and blended in with our host nations like so many other conquered
nations have done. With Shabbos we return to our source. We connect with
our Creator, and we reassert our purpose for which we were created. Shabbos
is the foundation of Judaism, and observing it is the way we get in on the
Text Copyright © 2001 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.