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What is Shabbat?

by Rabbi Tzvi Shapiro


Library » Shabbat » A Day of Rest | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The Short Answer:

Shabbat is the Hebrew name for Saturday. Shabbat means rest. G-d commands the Jew to rest on Shabbat from 39 forms of creative labor called “Melachot”, and celebrate the day with prayer, Torah study, formal dress and festive meals.

The Askmoses Answer:


One of the great virtues of the human being is his ability to achieve, to create, to do. Man is unique in this regard and this unique ability is an attraction hard to ignore. It is so attractive that we often get swept away by this one aspect of our being, overlooking other elements of being, namely, being itself; we forget to rest, we forget to be. We are so obsessed with making a living that we forget, neglect, or simply don't have time, to live.

At its very basic, Shabbat is a Divine remedy for that imbalance. It establishes a balance for doing and being, making a living and living.

Shabbat is an oasis in time, an Exodus from the pressures of daily life, a moment to transcend creation and unite with creator.

On Shabbat there is no business or work, deadlines or meetings; only quality time for introspection, meditation, prayer, and festivity. For one day a week your universe precludes clients or bosses. A world emerges in which to discover family, community, G-d and yourself.

This balanced system comes from G-d Himself. G-d created the world in six days and on the seventh day, Shabbat, He rested. I.e. G-d allotted six days for doing, and one day for being. As the Torah1 says "Six days a week you shall work... and the seventh shall be a day of rest."

G-d created the world in six days and on the seventh day, Shabbat, He rested. I.e. G-d allotted six days for doing, and one day for being.
Thus Shabbat is not only Divinely prescribed; it is actually Divine in nature.


Shabbat, however, is not just a break from what we do; it is a portal into who we are, and subsequently adds significance to everything we do.

Shabbat is to the week what the soul is to the body. You might only pay active attention to your soul periodically, but it is constantly vitalizing and inspiring your every moment. Similarly, Shabbat only comes around once a week, but it enhances the performance and perspective of your whole week.


  • 1. Exodus 20:8-9


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(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.