Observing Shabbat

Shabbat in relation to the weekdays is as sight to hearing. Throughout the week Divine vibrations fill my heart. On Shabbat I see Godliness.

In the Zohar we learn that the word Shabbat (שבת) depicts the secret of the eye. The three branches of its first letter, shin (ש), allude to the three Patriarchs and to the three colors associated with their spiritual attributes (loving-kindness, might, and beauty) which appear in the eye – the white of the eye (לבן), the red blood vessels visible within the white "sea" of the eye (אדום), and the individual color of each person's eye (referred to generically as "yellow-green," ירוק). The letters bet tav (בת) of Shabbat spell the word bat, literally "daughter" (corresponding in Kabbalah to the sefirah of kingdom, personified by King David, the fourth "leg" of the Divine Chariot, as here symbolized in the four colors of the eye), referring to the black (שחור) pupil of the eye (בת עין).

The numerical values of the four colors present in the eye (as alluded to in the word Shabbat), the Divine Chariot of the eye (revealed on the day of Shabbat) – white (לבן, 82), red (אדום, 51), yellow-green (ירוק, 316), black (שחור, 514) – add to 963, the gematria of the phrase in which "sight" appears for the first time in the Torah: "And God saw the light to be good" (וירא אלהים את האור כי טוב).

After the primordial sin, Adam and Eve heard "the voice of God" walking through the garden. They heard God, He spoke to them, and they answered. This is the consciousness of "hearing," the height of our consciousness of Godliness (God and His Divine Providence) is our lives subsequent to the primordial sin, the consciousness of the weekdays, the workdays ("By the sweat of your brow…").

But on Shabbat we return to the pristine state of consciousness of God as it was prior to the primordial sin (and as it will be universally in the future). In the terminology of Kabbalah, during the weekdays our consciousness is at the level of understanding ("hearing" in Hebrew means also "understanding") whereas on Shabbat our consciousness rises to the level of wisdom (direct insight into the mysteries of creation hidden within reality, and into the "mystery of mysteries," the Creator of reality, the true and absolute Reality).

Throughout the week everything that happens around us, all that we see and hear, "tells" us about God and His Providence. On Shabbat we don't have to be told about God, we experience Him directly.

There are two exceptions to the above distinction between Shabbat and the weekdays, two times that we rise to the consciousness of Shabbat during the otherwise mundane time of the week. The Arizal teaches that our consciousness in the times of prayer, every day of the week three times a day, is at the level of Shabbat. The times of prayer, when we turn to God and address Him directly, are the Shabbat as its light shines into and permeates the week.

Also, a true Torah scholar is referred to in the Zohar as Shabbat. Continuously in communion with God through the means of His Torah (which ultimately in one with Himself) he experiences Shabbat-consciousness the entire week.

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anonymous July 23, 2011 at 9:40 pm

If I recall correctly, the general phrase for "come and learn" in the Babylonian Talmud is "ta shma", come and hear but there are twelve times when the phrase "ta chazi" come and see, is used.
In contrast, in the Zohar, the usual phrase is "ta chazi" but there are two times when the phrase "ta shma" is used.
This would seem to point out that the Torah of Nigleh is relatively "week day" while the Torah of Nistar is relativel "shabbosdik".

Gateway to Eden | Morning Meditations July 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

[…] what if we don't have to wait? Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh says that we don't: After the primordial sin, Adam and Eve heard “the voice of God” […]


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