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Shabbat: The Inside Story

by Rabbi Simon Jacobson

  

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G-d created us as physical beings in a physical world. He created a world wherein we could be independent and make free choices, a world where the higher realities of spirit are obscured and the physical reality becomes paramount.

In a sense, therefore, there are two realities occurring simultaneously. In Kabbalistic and Chassidic terminology, one reality is called da'at elyon, the view from Above (the spiritual viewpoint), and the other reality is called da'at tachton, the view from below (the physical viewpoint). These perspectives are perhaps better described as the view from “inside-out” and from “outside-in,” respectively. We see the universe from the outside-in. When we meet people, the first thing we perceive are their external features. Then we study their body language and try, through communication and other methods, to pierce the surface to discover what is within.

When we sit at our Shabbat table...we’re forced to reach deeper and discover our true selves
The only existence on the earth that we truly experience from the inside-out is ourselves. We don’t need to look in a mirror to know what mood we’re in.

The Torah and Kabbala say this phenomenon is true with the entire universe. G-d made a world that is outside-in, and asked us to reveal its G-dliness by transforming it inside-out.

Now, if we are looking at life with an outside-in perspective, that which is spiritual, more internal, can easily be misperceived as nothing. But from the inside-out perspective, the exact opposite is true: that which is taking place on the outside is really nothing. From this perspective, what we call nothingness is really something (the somethingness of the spiritual reality), and what we call somethingness (the external achievements of the material world) is relatively nothing.

Shabbat is the day that reveals to us the nothingness of something and the somethingness of nothing. When we sit at our Shabbat table and have to come up with a discussion that’s not about the stock market or sports or gossip, we’re forced to reach deeper and discover our true selves. We have the opportunity to experience the beauty of family, spend time with our children, talk about things that really matter, and relate to G-d in song, study and prayer. What emerges is an inside-out reality, a nothing reality that is really something.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Torah » Kabbalah » Kabbalistic Concepts

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.
Torah
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.
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Kabbalistic
(adj.) Pertaining to Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.
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.