The Sabbath Is Our Day of Peace

Yael Eckstein  |  October 31, 2022

Yael praying at Shabbat dinner

Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day. —Exodus 35:3

At the very heart of Judaism is the Sabbath — the only ritual ordained in the Ten Commandments. In a world where there are so many distractions, it is imperative to learn about and cherish the one day a week set aside for rest and contemplation, a day Jews call Shabbat. This series of devotions explores the many lessons we can learn from this rich observance.

The Sabbath is widely known as a day of rest. So does this mean that we spend the entire day sleeping or relaxing? Hardly!

We pray, study, serve a luxurious meal, join with friends, and do things that connect us with God, the people around us, and our values. Now don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite parts of Shabbat is a nice nap, but that’s just the cherry on top of what is really a day of spiritual connection.

What we don’t do is create anything. Just as God stopped creating on the seventh day, we refrain from any creative activity on the Sabbath. But the truth is that there are no specific laws regarding how to observe the Sabbath in the Bible — except for one: “Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

The Sabbath Is Our Day of Peace

The Jewish sages teach that there is a special message in this one commandment that goes above and beyond what actions are prohibited on the Sabbath.

“Fire” means much more than physical fire. It’s also the “fire” of arguments and anger. This commandment directs us: “Do not light the fire of arguments in your homes on the Sabbath.” As the traditional Sabbath greeting says, Shabbat shalom, a “Sabbath of peace.” The Sabbath is our day of peace.

The Talmud shares the following story: There was once a couple who got into an argument every Friday afternoon, just before the Sabbath began. Rabbi Meir, the miracle worker, paid them a visit and stayed with them for three weeks until he was able to restore peace to their home. When his work was completed, he heard the voice of Satan sadly cry out: “Woe is to me, for Rabbi Meir has removed me from my home.”

The sages explain that a home of quarrelling is the domain of Satan. He works his hardest to create fighting in the home just before the Sabbath when we are trying to focus on creating a day of rest and peace. With the Sabbath, God calls us to create and maintain a peaceful environment, even if for just one day a week.

Your Turn:

Join me on my podcast, Nourish Your Biblical Roots, as I explore deeper the meaning and blessings of the Sabbath in my new five-part series.

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