Bnei Yisrael shall observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath an eternal covenant for their generations. [Shemos 31:16]
I might be a techie at Facebook, a photographer at National Geographic, a student at the London School of Economics; any Jewish person. I fly through the week from one project to the next, get prepped for the weekend parties to unwind – to get rewound the next week. Even if I’m so rich and chilled that I don’t have to work and my life is one big “I’m a good guy” – helping every elderly person across the street, donating millions to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, and disease – what’s it all for? Why are we in this world?
If I’m not anchored to the ultimate goals of life, I’m missing the boat. So how do I get clarity? That’s where Shabbat comes in. Shabbat is a pivotal day each week, allowing me to stop and gain a clear perspective on why we’re here.
When Shabbat descends on the world and we participate in its observance, festive meals, songs, prayers, and all types of delights, we are connecting to one of the strongest and most meaningful Jewish forces and experiences. Shabbat is the cornerstone of Jewish belief. When we observe Shabbat, we intrinsically testify that God created the universe and that He supervises and guides the history of mankind.
There are two Morasha shiurim addressing Shabbos. The first class, Shabbat I: Plugging into the Goals of Life, discusses how Shabbat observance teaches and reinforces the foundations of Jewish belief. The class will also explain the concept of Shabbat menuchah – a profound, integrated physical rest and spiritual experience – by both refraining from melachah, creative work, and enjoying the special mitzvot of the day. Finally, we hope to portray the profound impact that Shabbat has made, and continues to make, on the life of the Jewish people.
The second class, Shabbat II: The Shabbat Experience, examines aspects of Shabbat that join to form our total Shabbat experience: lighting candles, Kiddush, challah, and the special Shabbat meals. All these elements of Shabbat help to create the unique atmosphere of rest and spiritual rejuvenation that we aim to achieve on Shabbat.
The NLE Morasha shiur on Shabbat I: Plugging into the Goals of Life addresses the following questions:
- My idea of a weekend is sports, blogging, and parties; what does Shabbat have to do with me?
- If I’m not tired on Shabbat, why should I rest? Why not just take a day off when I want to get recharged?
- What work are we resting from on Shabbat? Flipping a light switch?
- Why is Shabbat the cornerstone of Jewish belief and practice? Why is it included in the Ten Commandments?
- How do we understand Shabbat menuchah, a reflective kind of rest and spiritual experience?
- How is Shabbat the key to a Jewish future?
The NLE Morasha shiur on Shabbat II: The Shabbat Experience examines the following ideas:
- What is meant by the terms “safeguarding” Shabbat and “remembering” Shabbat (shamor and zachor)?
- What is the significance of lighting Shabbat candles?
- Why are there always two loaves of bread at a Shabbat meal and why do we call them “challah”?
- If Shabbat is a day of spirituality, why is so much emphasis placed on enjoying physical delights on Shabbat (oneg Shabbat)?