The Island of Time of Shabbat

September 13, 2017 by Rabbi Benji Levy
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Newton’s first law of inertia states that objects will not move unless acted upon…writes Rabbi Benji Levy.

Yifat Mervis, Nina Buchman, Ingrid Jacobson and Kerry Chiert

God’s creation was this act as the beginning of beginnings, setting the wheels of our ever-expanding universe in motion and spinning the world around its own axis. But this same law of inertia states that objects will not stop moving, unless acted upon by an external force and therefore in a vacuum, these metaphorical wheels would never stop spinning without an impetus. The biblical account of creation highlights the same Creator of the universe on the first day as the Creator of Shabbat, the day of rest, on the seventh. Ordinarily rest is seen as the cessation of work, but in the context of creation, the Shabbat day of rest displays the ultimate form of creativity. God’s act of creation was as revolutionary as His act of rest. Rest was the only ingredient lacking when everything else was whole and therefore, ‘when the seventh day came, rest came, and the universe was complete.’ On the seventh day, God created rest and through this rest, He completed creation.

Since God handed the Garden of Eden to humanity, ‘to work and to guard it’, we have been in a constant process of building and developing everything around us. The birth of the marketplace, the industrial revolution and the innovation of the Internet are but a few breakthroughs that have shifted paradigms and given rise to new worlds that are evolving at an exponential rate. On the first day God said ‘let there be light’ and the energy from this primordial light continues through man’s innovation as a partner in the ongoing process of creation.

Today rest is often synonymous with switching off our minds and switching on external stimuli. People flick through channels on TV, flip through pages of a magazine or surf sites on the net, allowing the head a break from the frenetic pace of the day. This rest is passive and sometimes results in a feeling of greater lethargy. Shabbat rest however, requires the channelling of a different kind of energy. If enacted correctly, this active rest results in a feeling of rejuvenation. Passive rest is incidental – active rest is intentional. Rather than sitting back and relaxing while life passes us by, active rest is about engaging in and savouring moments and relationships that truly mean something.

Celebrating Shabbat is the ultimate tutorial in active rest; it is the journey from rest to restoration. There are a plethora of pathways that Shabbat places before us, relating to every sphere of our wholesome lives. The Shabbat Project is recreates us a community, providing a collective invitation to the Island in Time of Shabbat.


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