Love is in the Air
Shabbat is known as a day of rest. Six days G-d created the world and on the 7th day He rested. How are we to understand G-d resting? Does G-d get tired?
Shabbat actually means that G-d abstained from creating. G-d stopped on the 7th day and this completed the creation of the world. The Midrash, part of Jewish oral tradition, tells us that the creation of the world was actually not finished. G-d did not stop at the end but He stopped in the middle. This teaches us that G-d was not compelled to finish creation. He did not have to create the world but simply wanted to. He was free to start to create and free to stop at anytime.
When we celebrate the Shabbat we are reminding ourselves that creation is G-d’s act of Love. The highest expression of love is when I freely do what I don’t have to do. When you love somebody you not only give them what they need in order to survive but you also give them gifts that they do not need. Like a diamond ring you could live without and yet it became the sign of love. Perhaps this is why we do Kiddush on wine and not water. We could live without wine but not water.
Shabbat reminds us that life is a gift of love from G-d. G-d didn’t need to create us and we didn’t have to exist. But He did and we do. Shabbat is an opportunity to say thank you and feel the love.
Friday Night Dinner
Welcoming the Angels of Peace
Friday night two angels follow us home. They enter our home to see whether it is set for Shabbat. If indeed the Shabbat candles are lit and the table is set for a festive meal then one angel blesses us that it be so next week and the other angels says Amen. However if the home is not set up for Shabbat then the other angel curses us, “May it be so next week!” and his companion says, “Amen.”
What is the meaning of this strange idea? Shabbat is not only the end of the week but it is also the beginning of our upcoming week. If a person set sail on a boat from Los Angles with her destination being Japan however her initial launch is 1% off then she will land in New Zealand. The direction at the beginning of our journey determines the destiny of our life.
Angels are the spiritual forces that surround us daily. They do not determine our direction. They simply channel energy to us so that we can carry on in the direction that we have chosen. This is the meaning of the Talmudic teaching, “In the direction that a person chooses to go, they guide him.” “If a person wants to pursue purity they will help him. If a person wants to pursue impurity they will open the door.”
Friday night we determine whether the journey of our upcoming week will be towards the holiness of the next Shabbat or not. We choose whether it will be a source of blessing or curse. We decide and our angels reinforce our decision. When we come home to a table set for Shabbat then we have good reason to joyously welcome our angels and their blessings.
Eshet Chayil-Woman of Strength
In Jewish tradition women exemplify the power for commitment, devotion and loyalty. Rarely will you find a female villain in the Bible. Eshet Chayil praises the Jewish people for their outstanding loyalty to G-d like a wife to her husband. Jewish history has not been a merry-go-round. Our faith in G-d has been challenged over and over again and yet in general the Jewish people have continued to show faith in G-d and commitment to the ideals and values that embody that faith.
Most people seem to know what traditionally we don’t do on Shabbat. We don’t turn on and off lights, we don’t tear toilet paper, we don’t ride in cars, buses or trains etc.. However, few know what we do on Shabbat. Shabbat is dedicated to making time sacred. With the recital of the Kiddush over a brimming cup of wine we begin this process.
On Shabbat we sip and savor every moment like a fine wine. This makes every moment sacred. I once saw an ad promoting a new Broadway comedy called “Nothin’s Sacred”. Nothing is sacred means that every thing, every one, and every moment is a just a means to some other end. Is everything, everyone, and every moment just a stepping stone?
When we recite the Kiddush on the eve of Shabbat we remind ourselves that G-d did not need to create us. Life is not a means to an end. Life is G-d’s creation of love. And love is an end unto itself. The purpose of love is love. With Kiddush we proclaim every moment to be a sacred time for love between G-d and us.
After their Exodus from Egypt the Jewish People wondered in the desert for 40 year. During that time they ate manna – a food stuff that miraculously fell from the sky daily. On Fridays, however, a double portion would suddenly appear in preparation for Shabbat. The two loafs of bread remind us of this double portion. What’s the message?
Imagine you’re in the desert and suddenly food falls from the sky. You are awestruck by this outright miracle. But when it then happens day after day, the awe wears off and it becomes just part of the ordinary. Along comes the sixth day and suddenly double the amount appears and you realize that what seemed to be ordinary is really extraordinary and miraculuos. Shabbat breaks our weekly routine to remind us to see the extraordiary in the ordinary and celebrate the miracle of our everyday lives.
Washing our hands
G-d has lovingly prepared everything and every moment for our benefit and pleasure. Both the spiritual and the physical are filled with G-d’s endless love for us. And it’s all about love. Therefore before the meal we wash our hands in a ritual way to prepare ourselves for sacred eating. The purpose of our Shabbat meal is not to finish our plates, fill our fuel tanks and get on with the race of life. Rather sacred eating is about enjoying every bite and tasting the love in the food.
Judaism teaches that eating is a service to G-d. How can stuffing ourselves be a divine service? When we enjoy life we are serving G-d’s purpose because G-d created us to give us pleasure.
The Blessing over the Bread
After we wash our hands we do not speak until after we have said (or heard) the blessing over the bread and completely enjoyed our first bite of bread. This is in order to remember that we washed in preparation of the holy service of eating. The blessing for the bread goes like this: Blessed be You G-d, King of the universe, Who has brought forth bread from the earth. This essentially means, “Lets there be an increase in the awareness that You, G-d, are the source of bread.”
Bread is a symbol of human ingenuity and power. Money has been referred to as bread or dough; providers for the home have been called breadwinners. Although bread provides us with great nourishment it can also feed our ego. This blessing reminds us that although it took great human efforts and intelligence to make this bread ultimately it is all a gift from G-d. Therefore we humbly and gratefully receive the works of our hands as no less a gift from G-d as the Manna from the heavens.
We further add to the sacredness of the meal and the day with songs. Songs are especially helpful in putting us into a restful and sacred state of mind. Songs teach us to enjoy the journey. We never sing a song in order to get to the last note. Rather we enjoy of every note. We accompany our meal with singing to remind to enjoy every moment and bite of our meal without feeling rushed to finish.
Thankfulness is the key to living a full life. Rather than always focusing on what we are missing we need to be sure that we are thankful for what we already have. The Kabbalah teaches that unless we thank G-d for our food it can only nourish our body but not our souls. Souls need love. Food nourishes our souls only after we acknowledge that it is actually a love filled gift from G-d.
Rabbi David Aaron, a master of clarity, shares life-changing Torah secrets to love, spiritual growth and personal power. He is the founder of TheOne.Tv, Dean of Isralight International, and author of several best–selling books including Endless Light, Seeing G-d, Living a Joyous Life, The Secret Life of G-d, Inviting God In, and The G-d Powered Life.