Shabbat: A Day of Rest

by Morris Dweck


There are thirty nine actions forbidden to be preformed on Shabbat. There are also fences that the Rabbis created to ensure our commemoration of the day. The question that presents itself is why. Why should be refrain from doing work once a week? Why should the thirty nine actions performed in the Mishkan have anything to do with Shabbat. It seems to have no logic or rational behind it, which is a problem. The Torah is the ultimate source of intelligence and every detail down to a single letter has a logical idea behind it. It is our job to seek out the intelligence that is hidden in the Torah.

In Parashat Tetsave the Torah begins with it's elaboration about the details of the Mishkan. The Mishkan is so important to the People of Israel because every detail is surrounded by ideas, from every different sacrifice down to the intricacies of the Menorah. It was at this time, the building of the Mishkan that Israel was involved in it's most creative task. They were involved in creating a place surrounded by the ideas of Judaism. It was a place was set aside for man to be involved with his Neshamah. It is because of this creativity that we must refrain from the thirty nine actions of the Mishkan, on Shabbat.

Every Shabbat we take a day out to reflect on the idea of God as the Creator. We take a day to reflect on this idea, since our existence is dependant on the existence of God and we are products of his creation. When we refrain from doing work on Shabbat we are showing that in truth we are never involved in creation. Our creativity is a manipulation things that exist (creating something from something). God as a creator was involved in a true creation, creating something from nothing.

When we refrain from our most creative actions (the actions preformed at the Mishkan), we are showing that God is the only existence that is truly involved in creation. It is for this reason that the Amidah and Kiddush of Shabbat incorporates references to creation, something that we do not see in the Amidah of the weekday.

© Kol Israel Congregation