Shabbat is the day we let go of the illusion that we are in control. We accept the world as it is given, rather than trying to mold it to our wishes. We are free to impose our will by DO-ing six days of the week. On the seventh day, Shabbat, we are supposed to take a breath and just BE.
I love Rabbi Alan Lew’s teaching that on Shabbat, God takes a breath. The Hebrew for what God does on the Sabbath day, when creating is over, is “shavat v’yi’nafash“ ( שָׁבַת וַיִּנָּפַשׁ). It is usually translated as “and God rested”. However, Rabbi Lew suggests that “nafash“ also means breath and so can be translated, “and on Shabbat, God exhaled.”
I love that. Even God paused.
Rabbi Lew writes:
“Torah says “Shavat v’yi’nafash” – God stopped creating and was re-ensouled, re-inspirited, refreshed again….But if we read shavat vayinafash as “stopped (speaking) and breathed again… (God exhales)”
Shabbat is Judaism’s greatest gift to the world. As my teacher and friend Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg says, “Pausing is not an option. Pausing is part of the plan.”
The truth is that our souls need to be renewed and refreshed. Especially in difficult times.
What might you do to pause?
How might you appreciate what IS rather than what is “not”?
Might you take a watch in nature and just be glad for all that exists that is here for you?
How about shifting your attention for one whole day to what is working, what is good, where you receive love and joy, how you experience awe and wonder?
For more Sabbath inspiration, check out my collection of Abraham Joshua Heschel quotes on Pinterest.
PS – Passover is coming and I’m about to put out some wonderful spirituality lessons for this year. Even if you are not Jewish, the themes of this time of year are profound and transformative. Please subscribe to my mailing list to be kept apprised of all offerings: Sign up here.