Monday, June 4, 2018

Shabbos and Deveykus

Painting by Dovid Sears

By Rabbi Nachman Golstein, Rav of Tcherin, zatzal
Yehara de-Shabbata, based on Likutey Moharan I, 52

Our Sages taught: “Whoever prays on Shabbos Eve and recites the Scriptural passage, ‘And the heavens and the earth were completed’ (Genesis 2:1-3) is considered to have became a partner with the Holy One, blessed be He, in the work of Creation...”[1]
The souls of Israel were emanated in order to bear witness to God’s Oneness and to the fact that God created the universe yesh me-ayin [from nothingness]. Therefore, the universe is a “contingent existent” that God equally could have chosen to create or not create. However, after God emanated the souls of lsrael to bear witness to His Oneness, the universe became an “imperative existent” in a relative sense: without a fitting context in which to operate, Israel could not fulfill its destiny. Thus, by recognizing and accomplishing its mission in the world, Israel may be said to have a share in the Divine act of Creation. This is why we recite the above passage from the Book of Genesis on Shabbos Eve.
Shabbos is the final outcome and hence the crown of all of Creation. This is why it is the optimal time for the attainment of self-nullification and deveykus. Then everything merges into the Divine Oneness; all “contingent existence” returns to its Source in the true Imperative Existent, which is God.
Thus, we find that the word Shabbos is related to the concept of bitul. As the verse states, “And they caused the people to desist (vi-hishbatem) from their labor...” (Exodus 5:5). Vi-hiSHBaTem shares the same root as ShaBbaT (shin-beis-tav). Indeed, the Targum (Aramaic translation of the Torah) renders this, “And they caused them to become idle [u-tiBaTLon, from the same root as biTuL (beis-tes-lamed)].”
In this sense, the Zohar states: “Shabbos is a day of the soul, not a day of the body...”[2] The light of the soul shines so brightly that any Jew who observes the laws of Shabbos may more easily transcend the physical aspect and cleave to God with total nullification of the ego.
The sanctity of the time and circumstances contributes to this. During the six days of the week, the world is distracted. Everyone is preoccupied with mundane pursuits. Thus, it is difficult to attain self-nullification.
Moreover, the spiritual boundaries of the world are confused. We seem to constantly intrude on each other’s “space.” This affects everyone’s state of mind, contributing to a general climate of disturbance and confusion. This prevents us from attaining total self-nullification.
However, this is not the case on Shabbos, which is a ‘‘foretaste of the World to Come.”[3] All Israel desists from their labors and burdens and draws closer to the ultimate goal of creation, each person according to his or her nature. This is accomplished particularly through prayer and hitbodedus (secluded meditation). We must exert ourselves to pray with mindfulness and deveykus on the Shabbos. Additionally, we must engage in hitbodedus until we attain self­-nullification and become subsumed within our Source, which is the Imperative Existent.

[1] Shabbos 119b.
[2] Zohar II, 205a.
[3] Berakhos 57b.

No comments:

Post a Comment