Shabbat. The art of doing nothing. The practice of simply being. And yet this practice is far from simple. Fortunately, Torah gives us plenty of reminders about its importance, and regularly points us to this foundational practice.
In this week’s Parasha, Vayakhel-Pekudei, Moses returns again from Mount Sinai, this time with the Second set of Tablets. He assembles all of the people and gives them the green light to begin building the Mishkan. The parasha continues, in painstaking detail about this elaborate construction process. However, before the work begins, Moses reminds the people about the observance of Shabbat. This was mentioned in last week’s Parasha as well, so we know this repetition comes to teach us something.
Clearly, taking a day of rest does not come easily or naturally, then or now. We live in a world of incessant busy-ness. Stepping into Shabbat, while living (and plugging into) a 24/7-on demand-world, is becoming increasingly difficult. This week’s Parasha reminds us to accept the gift of Shabbat with open arms. That’s on the gracious, receptive end. Because at the same time, this week’s Parasha also demands that we make Shabbat part of our lives--failing to do so threatens our very existence. In the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:
“There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.”
Shabbat is an oasis in time, a spa for the soul. May we carve out the time to visit this sacred landscape. May we truly receive the weekly present of presence.