Shabbat Shalom

Naaleh_logo Shiur provided courtesy of

Adapted by Channie Koplowitz Stein

Parshat Yitro records our experience at Sinai and the articulation of the Ten Commandments. The fourth of these Commandments is, "Remember the Sabbath Day to sanctify it... And Hashem blessed the Shabbat Day and sanctified it" This Commandment, is repeated in Parshat Vaetchanan with a change from "Remember..." to "Safeguard the Shabbat Day..." Our commentators note that remembering the Sabbath Day connotes all the positive mitzvoth in keeping Shabbat, while safeguarding the Sabbath Day refers to refraining from the activities prohibited on the Sabbath.

The question remains: How are we to remember Shabbat? The very command implies that we are to remember Shabbat not only one day a week, but on every day. Rashi explains that Shammai said that when one finds something special, whether a special food or new clothing, one should set it aside to be enjoyed on Shabbat. Hillel notes that our very language remembers Shabbat daily. We speak of the First Day [for Shabbat], the Second Day, etc. without giving the days other names. We further understand, based on the use of the word zachor/remember, writes the Sefas Emes, that Hashem gave us the Torah on Shabbat itself.

What is the connection between Shabbat and the giving of the Torah? Further, why do we greet each other with Shabbat shalom on Shabbat? What, in fact, is the connection between Shabbat and shalom? As the Netivot Shalom explains, shalom is not just the absence of conflict. After all, we recite, "He Who makes peace in the heavens..." Since angels are united in their service to Hashem, there is no conflict in heaven. Obviously, shalom must have a deeper meaning, especially since shalom is considered the foundation of the world.

All the elements of the world were created in six days, yet something was missing, continues the Slonimer Rebbe in Netivot Shalom. What was missing was the integration of all the elements of creation into one unified whole. Shabbat was the unifying factor that proclaimed Hashem as the Creator and Ruler over the world. When there is unity and common purpose, the wholeness of shalom is achieved.

At the end of each day of creation, every plant, animal, and human being was a complete but separate entity within itself, writes the Sifsei Chaim. However, with the "creation" of Shabbat, all of creation became interconnected. For example, plants, animals and mankind no longer existed independently, but became integrated into the oxygen cycle, necessary for all to continue to exist. Therefore, on Shabbat our liturgy proclaims, "Hakol yoducha, Hakol yeshabcucha.../All acknowledge, all praise... all proclaim the glory of God." Shabbat lets us step back from the minutiae of the rest of the week and see the full picture, the panoramic view of the world Hashem created. Therefore, the Psalm for the Shabbat Day is, "It is good to thank Hashem and to sing praise to Your Name," a psalm that extols the great deeds of Hashem and the inexplicable interconnectedness of creation (Psalm 92).

It was with this integration and harmony that the world received the imprint of Hashem and achieved perfection, so that Hashem could declare His creation as being "very good." When we recite the Kiddush on Friday night, we acknowledge this perfection with the introduction, "(And there was evening and there was morning) Yom Hashishi Vayeculu Hashamayim...," the acronym for the four-lettered name of God Who put His imprint on the world when He sealed creation with Shabbat.

Shabbat brought a special satisfaction to Hashem that would be actualized later through Bnei Yisroel's accepting the Torah, writes the Sefas Emes. Shabbat and Sinai are forever linked as the purpose and foundation of the world. True menuchah/rest is the tranquility of spirit one achieves by disconnecting from the mundane that binds us and reconnecting with one's Source on Shabbat. In this vein, we can understand that the first iteration of the Shabbat commandment in Parshat Yitro invokes the creation of the world, while the second iteration in Parshat Vaetchanan invokes the exodus, for one is truly free not when released only from physical bondage, but rather when one connects his immortal soul to his Creator through Shabbat observance.

Indeed, we can infuse our entire week with that sense of completeness by viewing everything through the lens of Shabbat, by how we elevate the material by designating it for our enhanced Shabbat enjoyment.

The main attribute of sovereignty is shalom, integrity and completeness, for when there is a sense of completeness, true peace is achieved. One of the Names through which we understand Hashem is Shalom, the attribute that encompasses all the other attributes. Indeed, any prayer that lists several of Hashem's attributes, or in which we offer multiple blessings, concludes with Shalom, for Shalom includes every other blessing and every other attribute we may have already listed, writes Rabbi Pincus in Shabbat Malcheta. We wish each other Shabbat Shalom, and we thereby elevate everything to God's

Sovereignty and to wholeness and peace.

Man himself is comprised of two fused separate entities, the physical body and the spiritual soul. But while the two exist together, there is a natural division between the two, However, Rav Rothberg reminds us that we have the ability to break down those divisions and elevate the physical functions like eating and drinking to achieve spiritual status. Shabbat is a bridge to this integration.

Returning now to the Psalm for the Sabbath Day, Rabbi Ber notes that, except for the first verse, the Psalm seems to have nothing to do with Shabbat. The Psalm discusses how the wicked flourish, beyond our comprehension, but the righteous will eventually blossom. In Maaseh Rokem, Rabbi Ber suggests that Shabbat gives us an additional, deeper perspective on life and on the world. Through this lens, we can understand that the wicked are receiving their reward in this world for whatever good they did, while the righteous [who on Shabbat can sense the flavor and perspective of the World to Come] understand that the reward for the righteous is reserved for the World to Come.

Torah, given to us on Shabbat, is meant to connect the two worlds. In this manner, we know that although we work six days a week, our sustenance is actually dependent on God, not on our work. Therefore, even when I am working, I remember the Shabbat Day, and when Shabbat arrives, my perspective is that all my work has been completed as it was meant to be, even if a purely physical, material view would notice the piled up laundry or the as yet unsigned contracts on the desk. On Shabbat we see things from a double perspective, from both the earthly and the heavenly, from this world and from the World to Come. Just as we received a double portion of manna for Shabbat in the desert, and as we brought two sacrificial lambs for the Shabbat Temple offerings, so do we have the double language of zachor and shamor and the double perspectives of the physical and spiritual.

Every week as we begin welcoming Shabbat into the world, we recite six chapters of Tehillim that reflect the songs and praises for Hakodosh Boruch Hu Who created the world and established His dominion over all. This chapter according to the Midrash is a reference to the nations responding with trepidation upon hearing the great sounds at Har Sinai. The chapter concludes with, "He will bless His nation with shalom." Many, as a reenactment of our national stand at Sinai, practice the custom of standing when reciting this passage.

With this in mind, we can understand how Shabbos allows us to internalize the connection between ourselves and God, just as the Torah does, writes Rabbi Kluger. We push aside our material worries, knowing that all is in Hashem's hands.

Indeed, Hashem sends us special angels on Shabbat to give us the heavenly perspective Shabbat provides. These are the malachei hashalom/angels of peace that we welcome into our homes before Kiddush, writes Rabbi Mintzberg in Ben Melech. Shabbat supplies the sense of peace between family members, or between assorted groups and factions that may have differing opinions. On Shabbat, the sense of harmony prevails, adds the Sefas Emes. On Shabbos we are all Jews, unified in our service to the Ribbono shel olam. Just as we stood at Sinai as one man with one heart, concludes Rabbi Pincus, so does Shabbat unite us with that same sense of unity and peace.

The greatest symbol of this harmony and peace may be the Shabbat candles. The lights of these candles are emanations of the primal light before the sin, a light that is reflected in the soul of every human being. Shabbat helps us focus on how all human beings are in essence the same, as each soul is a part of Hakodosh Boruch Hu Himself. The soul, shining through the Shabbat candles, creates the harmony in the home, writes Rabbi Kluger. Because of this reflection of one soul mirrored within another, we need each other to achieve this shalom, this sheleimut/completeness. We acknowledge our interdependence through greeting each other with shalom aleichem/peace be to you, and its response, aleichem shalom. The only way I can achieve true perfection and completion, writes Rabbi Leff, is through connecting with you. Only through unity, through this wholeness, can we serve Hashem properly.

Using an interesting twist on language, Rabbi Silverberg gives us an additional insight into this idea contained in the Yiddish greeting on Shabbat. One may say, "Git Shabbos." The simple translation would be, Good Shabbos." But "Git" also translates as "Give." In a homiletic interpretation, Rabbi Silverberg suggests that since we each prepare for Shabbos in our own personal way, we ask each other to give me something of your Shabbos, whether it is a Torah thought or a piece of cake, and I will reciprocate with part of my Shabbos. As we exchange and give some Shabbos to each other, each Shabbos becomes more beautiful and complete, more shalem.

All week long, our physical and spiritual selves are in conflict, and it is difficult to tap into our essence, to tap into the purpose of our creation. On Shabbos, with the gift of the neshamah yesairah/additional soul [breath of God], we are given the opportunity to tap into and see our purpose more clearly, and to quell the constant conflict. We are given the gift of inner peace, writes the Sifsei Chaim. As Sefat Emet explains, even as we live, a piece of our soul remains in heaven, the image of the person we are meant to be. Shabbat gives us a glimpse of that ideal image, helping us to see that image and achieve our potential. We wish each other Shabbat Shalom, we wish each other success in connecting the pieces to create the true, complete picture of ourselves.

In a beautiful extension of this concept, the Shla"h Hakodosh suggests that it is customary to greet one's very home with, Shabbat Shalom," even if there are no other people inside. We want that aura of shalom, of peace, fulfillment and completeness to fill our homes and permeate the entire week. Our home is a mikdosh me'at, a mini Temple that is a reflection of the Temple in Yerushalayim. And that Temple was the representation of God's presence on earth just as it appeared on Sinai when Hashem embraced us with the dual gifts of Torah and Shabbat [CKS].