What is Shabbat?
The word rested, mentioned in Genesis 2:2, shares the same root of the Hebrew word Shabbat, which is the action of resting. The verse tells us that YeHoVaH sanctified or “set apart” the seventh day after finishing the work of Creation, showing us Shabbat has been around since creation, even before the Torah was given at Mount Sinai — Shabbat is for everyone.
Even when there have been changes to calendars throughout the centuries, Shabbat has never changed because the changes referred to dates, but not to the days of the week. For example, when the change from Julian to Gregorian calendar took place in 1582, Thursday, October 4, was followed by Friday, October 15. Though 10 days disappeared during this change, we see that the order the days of the week never changed.
Everyone can appreciate the beauty of a sunset; it’s no wonder the Almighty chose this moment to define the starting point of Shabbat. As the sun disappears over the horizon each Friday night, we enter Shabbat like entering a dome of time of rest until we emerge again at sunset on Saturday.
Although the Torah does not command that we perform certain rituals such as lighting candles, reciting certain prayers, breaking bread, or drinking wine, such things can help us to “set apart” this special time each week.
The only universal commandment for Shabbat is to suspend the activity that we commonly carry out during the other days of the week. For some it will be work, for others it will be study, for others various activities that are part of a routine. The idea is to enjoy the day with our Father; the easiest most effective way to do that is to go to his Word where we can discover more about him, reflect on his blessings and mercy toward us, and to find lessons to share with our family.
Shabbat is also a great time to reconnect with the outdoors, YeHoVaH’s creation! Admiring his works brings greater appreciation for His greatness and wisdom, as expressed in many of the Psalms.
So, ask YeHoVaH what he would have you do to recognize and celebrate this weekly occasion, which is actually the first commanded “feast” of the LORD — a blessing we get to enjoy every single week!