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What is the point of resting on Shabbat?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Shabbat (Saturday) is  the seventh day of the week. G-d created the world in six days and on the seventh day He rested. We are, therefore, commanded to "rest" on this day by refraining from all creative activity. Instead, we are meant to enjoy and have pleasure on Shabbat and spend our time engaged in spiritual pursuits such as praying, studying and praising G-d.

Keeping the Sabbath is the ultimate expression of our belief that the world didn't just "happen" to appear, but rather was created by G-d in six days and on the seventh day He rested. Anyone who is religious knows this fact, but sometimes it is possible to be so involved and preoccupied in business and other mundane, worldly matters, that one can begin to believe that the world runs naturally and money comes from working extra hard and health comes from taking a vitamin, etc.

G-d designated one day a week to remind us that G-d created the world, and is the source of our livelihood, health, children, and happiness.
So G-d designated one day a week for us to remember who really created the world and to remind us of  the source of our livelihood, health, children, and happiness. It is a day when we refrain from creative activity - because we are focusing on the Creator who gave - and gives - us everything. This day serves as inspiration for the rest of the week when we are involved in making a living and all other things that life throws our way.


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COMMENTS

shabbat

Posted by: grace ballesteros, davao city, davao del sur, philippines on Jan 01, 2005

In one of your articles it says that Saturday is the Shabbat day. But does not Scripture reckon day as starting at sundown? If so, Saturday up to its sundown only accounts for a part of Shabbat, and Friday sundown until Saturday the other part.

Editor's Comment

Correct.

Shabbat

Posted by: Charles Feldman, Sydney, NSW, Australia on Apr 11, 2005

You say Shabbat is the seventh day, the day of rest, and corresponds to Saturday. But Saturday in Australia and elsewhere is not the seventh day, it is the sixth day. So why does it corresponds to saturday ??

Editor's Comment

That all depends where you consider the International Dateline to be. While there is argument amongst rabbinic authorities on the exact location of the "halachic" International Dateline, all agree that Australia is west of the dateline, and Shabbat there is therefore observed on the local Saturday.

Shabbat

Posted by: Anonymous, Hope Mills, NC on Nov 12, 2005

Shouldn't you remeber and praise God for what he has done every day of the week; not just on a certain day that you believe is Biblical. He wants us to praise him every morning and think about him every waking minute. This shabbat seems to encourage people to wait till saturday to enjoy God and to think about him, but what if the Lord came back on Wednesday?

Editor's Comment

We certainly remember G-d and praise Him every day of the week. We pray to Him three times a day, and thank Him before and after we partake of any food... However, one day of the week is ENTIRELY devoted to focusing on our relationship with Him.

Activities for Kids on Shabbat

Posted by: Glenn, Cumberland, RI on Jan 09, 2006

One issue that has come up at our synagogue is what activities are permitted for kids on the weekend. Some have asked whether it's OK for young kids to color as part of a program for Shabbat.

This is certainly not "work", but I can see the point of not wanting them to do something that is "creative". However, I don't see how this is very different from other recreation activities like reading a book or going to a museum (pre-paid admission of course).

If this is not permitted, what activities would you suggest?

Thanks,

Editor's Comment

The word "creative" can be defined in different ways. See the following articles for a clearer understanding of the subject: "What does 'resting' on Shabbat or the holidays mean?" (http://www.askmoses.com/qa_detail.html?h=423&o=149). "If Shabbat is meant to be a day of rest, why are there so many restful things which are prohibitted on this day?" (http://www.askmoses.com/qa_detail.html?h=423&o=2850).
Shabbat
(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.
G-d
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.