Torah Blog


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Entries in Shabbat (1)


Make Shabbat Your Partner

Shabbat. I could barely live without it. In today’s insanely connected world, I need one precious day to peel my eyes away from screens and place them instead onto people, books, the sky! To reboot my fried brain. People all over the Western world are realizing the need for unplugging. They’re doing “analog weekends”, refreshing themselves before the week begins anew.

But Shabbat is hard for some populations – including people who are single, or lonely inside a bad relationship. For them, unplugging, disconnecting, can mean feeling very alone. I offer an idea that I hope is more than pleasant words or a flimsy bandage for a painful wound. And it is this: to make Shabbat our partner.

The midrash (Bereshit Rabba 8:11) says,

Now why did God bless [Shabbat]? R. Berekhia and R. Dostai said: Because it has no partner. The first day of the week has the second, the third has the fourth, the fifth has the sixth, but Shabbat has no partner… R. Simeon b. Yohai taught: Shabbat said before the Holy Blessed One, “All have a partner, while I have no partner!” God said to her, “The Community of Israel is your partner!

Knesset Yisrael, the collective of Israel, is the marriage partner of Shabbat. “V’yanuchu bo kol Yisrael” – the national soul rests on Shabbat. The beauty of Kabbalat Shabbat reaches its heights as communities sing Lecha Dodi in unison, greeting the beloved bride. We get ready for Shabbat, writes the Rebbe of Slonim, the Netivot Shalom, as we get ready for marriage. We speak about it, buy and prepare food in honor of it, spend time beforehand reviewing our deeds and cleansing ourselves in preparation. We do our best to make the day exciting and special – by learning Torah, sanctifying it, putting on lovely clothes, having festive meals.

When we let Shabbat in as a real presence, spend time with her and greet her return with joy, then she can fill up our empty places, she can hold us in her embrace. She is there faithfully, week in, week out, through all the fluctuations of season, mood,  life. We might have a flesh-and-blood partner, or we might not - but by our very birthright, Shabbat IS our partner. Eternally so, G-d's gift to us all.

To me, Shabbat has a real presence, she is there with me, palpably.