An Everlasting Covenant

Yael Eckstein  |  February 15, 2022

Yael and daughters usher in Shabbat

The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. — Exodus 31:16

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tisa, which means “when you raise up,” from Exodus 30:11—34:35.

I remember watching an interview of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Larry King Live in the summer of 2010. At the time, Netanyahu was the Prime Minister of Israel and a very, very busy man. People who have worked for Netanyahu talk about how hard he works for Israel and how little he sleeps at night. Few people are busier than he is!

Larry said to him, “You live in the center of a hostile world. Do you ever get to really relax?”

“Yes,” Prime Minister Netanyahu answered, “and I’ll tell you when. Every Saturday we have a day off. I take an hour and a half and I read from the Bible with my younger boy. I relax then and I draw a lot of spiritual strength.”

An Everlasting Covenant

In this week’s Torah portion, the Sabbath, Shabbat in Hebrew, is called berit olam, “an everlasting covenant.” I thought about this phrase when I saw that interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Here is the Prime Minister of Israel making time every week to study the Bible with his son, taking time to connect with the eternal word of God, not once in a while, but every single week.

Shabbat is “an everlasting covenant” because every week we remind ourselves that what’s most important is everlasting. Very few commandments are called a “covenant.” Shabbat is a covenant because by stepping away from the day-to-day grind, turning off our smartphones, and spending time with family and neighbors, we reconnect with what matters most. And we do it every week. It’s a lifestyle.

People wonder about the remarkable survival of the Jewish people, retaining our identity and lifestyle over thousands of years, scattered across the globe as a tiny minority with no power and no land. The real secret of Jewish survival is Shabbat.

Your Turn:

Set aside your own Shabbat time, a weekly time with God, His Word, and those who are closest to you.

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