(Torah Portion Re’eh) The Day of Freedom!
Elul is the month when we prepare ourselves for the Day of Judgment – Rosh Hashana. As we usher in this month it is inevitable that some of the holiday prayers and tunes run through our minds.
After we blow the Shofar during the repetition of the Amida prayer of Rosh Hashana, we beseech G-d saying, “Today all creatures of the world stand in judgment – whether as children of G-d or as His servants. If as children, be merciful to us as a father is to his children. If as servants, our eyes look dependently upon You, until You will be gracious to us and release our verdict clear and pure as light, O Awesome and Holy One.”
In this week’s Parsha, G-d states that we are His children. This is the ultimate way to serve our Creator, as children who serve their parents because of feelings of love and a desire to make them feel proud.
Yet there are times when we serve G-d as servants, who serve their Master out of fear.
The Shem Mishmuel in his inimitable style compares our relationship with G-d on the Holy day of Shabbos, as that of children, and our relationship to Him during the six weekdays, as servants.
The Torah tells us that a Hebrew slave works for six years and is released in the seventh year. So too, during the six weekdays we serve the Almighty on the level of servants, and with the entry of the Seventh day, the Holy day of Shabbos, we become emancipated and transformed to children of G-d.
The opportunity for this special relationship with G-d on Shabbos is available to all Jews, no matter what spiritual level they are on, and whether or not they have accomplished or achieved. If one stole and could not repay the theft, he is sold as a slave by the Jewish court. However, he is automatically freed after six years, as long as he isn’t adamant on remaining a slave by having his ear pierced.
By embracing the freedom of the weekly Shabbos, we essentially transform ourselves into the role of children, by showing that no matter what transpired during the week, we, as true children, rely totally on the will of our Father in Heaven!
The root of the Hebrew word Shabbos, is Shav, which means return, and it really captures the essence of Shabbos. On Shabbos we return to our Source and it is the sanctuary where we find refuge.
The fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments obligates the Jews to observe the Shabbos. In this commandment the Torah links the Mitzvah of Shabbos to the remembrance of our slavery and freedom from Egypt. In other words, G-d is telling us, “When I redeemed you from slavery in Egypt and you came under My dominion, a qualification and condition was that you do not perform anything that constitutes a creative activity on the Holy day of Shabbos. Therefore, your Shabbos observance which grants you freedom from the daily grind, is testament that G-d freed you from Egypt.”
The Torah in this week’s portion teaches that a master is responsible to shower gifts upon his slave at the conclusion of the six years of servitude.
Says the Shem Mishmuel, G-d, in a certain capacity so to speak, also fulfills the Mitzvos of the Torah. Thus, just as a master gives gifts at the time he frees his slave, so too, as a Jew observes the Holy Shabbos, embracing his freedom with the onset of Shabbos, G-d showers him with an abundance of gifts and rewards for the coming week.
We now have an additional appreciation of the meaning of, “Shabbos is the basis for all blessing.”
In fact, the freedom and holiness we attain and experience as a result of the Shabbos, elevates us and infuses us with the energy and strength to live the following six weekdays of “slavery” in an elevated, blessed and sanctified fashion.
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks