Another thought on Shabbat

traveling-by-carHere is an avenue to travel as we enter the Sabbath. I was looking for a quotation on traveling and as is the case when surfing the web, I got sidetracked from my original journey. The key word initially was “travel” and I was thinking on the journey of life that we all traverse together. Well, travel led to guide and guide brought the following quote from Sifre Deuteronomy 34:

The Law of God perpetually in man’s mind guides him on his way, guards him in his sleep and converses with him when he wakes; it guides him through this world, guards him in the hour of death; it will be with him when he awakes in the days of the Messiah, and it will converse with him in the World-to-Come.

This quotation from Sifre Deuteronomy is a commentary on Proverbs 6:20-23;

My son, keep your father’s mitzvah, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart continually— tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you. When you lie down, they will watch over you, and when you wake up, they will speak to you. For the mitzvah is a lamp, Torah a light, and corrective discipline the way of life…

Interestingly the words from Proverbs echo the commentary immediately following the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:5-9:

…so you shall love ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These words, which I am commanding you today, are to be on your heart. You are to teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. Bind them as a sign on your hand, they are to be as frontlets between your eyes, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

In our journey through life, like our journey across town or literally anywhere we choose to go, we need directions or a guide. The three passages above indicate that the guide we need are the commands, the mitzvoth of ADONAI. The passage from Proverbs and Deuteronomy both speak of the heart as being a key element on the obedience of the Word. The author of 1 John affirms this heart need to the early believers when he wrote:

We know that we love God’s children by this—when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God—that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For everyone born of God overcomes the world. And the victory that has overcome the world is this—our faith. (1 John 5:2-4)

The commands of the LORD are not burdensome; they are the Way of Life for those who follow them. Now to tie this into entering the Sabbath, in Leviticus we read:

Speak to all the congregation of Bnei-Yisrael and tell them: You shall be holy, for I, ADONAI your God, am holy. Each one of you is to respect his mother and his father, and keep My Shabbats. I am ADONAI your God. (Leviticus 19:3)

And then in Isaiah we read:

Thus says ADONAI: “Preserve justice, do righteousness. For My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the one who does this, the son of man who takes holds of it, who keeps from profaning Shabbat, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. …Also the foreigners who join themselves to ADONAI, to minister to Him, and to love the Name of ADONAI, and to be His servants—all who keep from profaning Shabbat, and hold fast to My covenant—these I will bring to My holy mountain, and let them rejoice in My House of Prayer. (56: 1-2 & 6-7)

The keeping of the Sabbath is obviously one of the aspects, even it could be said a major aspect of keeping the commands of the LORD. However, as mentioned in John, the keeping of the commands, the keeping of the Sabbath is not suppose to be burdensome, they are an expression of love – love for ADONAI who desires that we be holy as He is holy.

Shabbat Shalom

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