Shabbos: Taking the First Step Towards Redemption
Rabbi David Katz
Parashas Noach contains one of the most emphasized verses in the Torah that brings form to most [if not all] opinions that weigh into whether the Noahide is to keep Shabbat or not. The verse [8:22] says, “…Continuously , all the days of the earth , seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, DAY AND NIGHT, shall not cease.” The range is vast in interpreting this verse, for some it spells out an obvious forbidden connotation in regards of the Noahide’s opportunity to keep the Shabbat, yet for the advocate [i.e. the Kabbalist vs. the Rationalist] of the Noahide/Ger, it is not a question of ‘no” but rather when and how! The Zohar has a couple of views that are most pertinent when exploring the Noahide Shabbat, and how it serves as a massive step towards Redemption and in revelation of one’s soul, name, and mission on this Earth.
The path to understanding the Zohar’s very premise that the verse quoted is a proof for Shabbat observance, one must first have a background knowledge of a deeper look at the Six days of Creation – after all, Shabbat is the day that we glorify Hashem of having created the World! The following system is a key to understanding most Kabbalah and the Noahide – Jewish relationship through usage of the famed model of the Tree of Life; this will be through precedent of the Days of Creation Divine Attributes [Sefirot] that are applicable to Jews and Gerim.
As most are aware, the Creation took place through God’s labor amidst six days, whereas on the Seventh Day, it would become a Blessed rest day for Hashem through His Blessing to make it so. For all that the traditional 7th Day “Shabbat” is the proper time and place for this rest day, i.e. at the end of the week [as this would be the precedent given to Israel at Sinai, and the most easily understood in the Torah] the Zohar illustrates that per force of Kabbalistic truths, there is another aspect to the rest day, and this comes from yet another principle in scripture [Vayikra 19:3], “My Sabbaths you shall observe.”
The grammar in this expression implies that the Shabbat is not double for one observant group; rather it implies two different observances. The simple answer is the Jew and the Ger are its subjects – to which the Sefer “Bahir” offers an analogy to describe a King’s Day of Joy that he shares with his beautiful bride along with his two sons of which he deeply loves. The Zohar [Hakdamah 5a] then takes liberty to explain through the Divine Attributes offer a clear blueprint as to how this works. Once we have a model of Wisdom as to how this works on a soul level, it becomes quite easy to provide the Chassidut [“Chassidei Umot HaOlam”], or, the sweet Torah of Spirituality in real time, in a way that we can easily see how to live this out in our lives every day of the week.
The Zohar after an explanatory discourse, shows how the first three days of creation are called “Avot” [“fathers”, after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in an analogous level of exegesis], and they culminate into an unprecedented revelation on the Fourth Day, which is the day that the Moon was reduced in size [which fourth emphasizes the point, as the Moon is a hint of the Shabbat Day, or the proverbial “Seventh” level]. Simultaneously, days Four, Five, and Six function as a unit of three [and obviously a full set of Six Days], logically, giving way to the Seventh Day, the traditional Shabbat. What makes this passage in the Zohar most interesting is that it says that Day Four as the Fourth Day in regards to the Three “Avot” is actually a hidden Shabbat [in regards to the first three days] and can only express itself as such, alongside our traditional Seventh Day Shabbat.
The spin on this outlook, is that anyone uninitiated into the Zohar’s rationale, may hastily conclude that the “first Shabbat” [i.e. the Fourth Day] would belong to the non-Jew and the traditional Shabbat belongs to the Jew. Yet with careful consideration to all angles [the Zohar takes into account an extremely dynamic model and numerous factors into its formula], we see that the Jewish Shabbat is surprisingly the Day Four revelation [that can only be revealed on the Seventh Day] while the Noahide Shabbat is in its traditional spot. To simplify matters, the Seventh Day is the location of the level of Shabbat “To Guard” [“שמור”] (which is taken up by Jews and Gerim) while the level of the Fourth day [actualized on the Seventh day] is synonymous with the term “To Remember Shabbat” [“זכור”].
Thus Israel embodies “to guard” and “to remember” – two powers condensed into one day. The Ger contains his “to remember” within the confines of “to guard.” The outcome is one day of Shabbat for two peoples, perfectly catered to both, in a way that not only is spiritually satisfying, but prepares the World for Messianic revelation. This becomes more easily visible once perceived in context of the Name of God and in Divine Attributes.
In Kabbalah, there are 10 Sefirot, which when placed in context of a system of “Seven” [days of the week, Laws of Noach, etc.] the custom is to employ the lower seven Attributes, while the upper three serve as an inspiration to the lower seven, much like a head and a body. Thus the Seven levels of Attributes can be seen in two different ways, such that the model of Shabbat works.
The first Three Days that are coined “Avot” would find that their “Fourth” Day is located in “Kingship” [Malchut] – the traditional 7th. It just so happens that the first three days/attributes find their fourth level only in the seventh and last space, thus leapfrogging over the traditional 4th, 5th, and 6th spots, settling in Kingship/7th Day – the Day of God’s Glory. This is parallel to the Forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their culmination into the “Fourth Forefather” – King David. This constitutes the level of “Remembering Shabbat.” The Ger Shabbat then takes numbers 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and into the 7th Day – the Holy Shabbat that must be guarded.
It is at this junction, that we find two peoples, Jews and Gerim, each observing Shabbat, in a unique way tailored to their souls, and in the same time and space. As the verse says, “DAY AND NIGHT, shall not cease” we now have two people to observe, guard, and remember an entire Shabbat. The Zohar explains that the Ger’s Shabbat emphasizes and utilizes the Friday Night as a modus operundi to fully punctuate the portion of Shabbat that falls within the first hours of Shabbat. The Shabbat portion that best suits the Jew, is to take command of the Shabbat Day, gaining full steam ahead, and erupting through Havdalah, onwards into “Yom Rishon” [Day one of the new week].
Both keep the Shabbat by day and night; metaphorically the Jews rest Friday Night and are prepared to enhancingly serve God by day [as there are more proactive measures to fulfill by day for the Jew] while the Ger is infused to rush into Shabbat after an exhilarating 6th Day and onwards into Friday night, while enjoying a day of rest with the Lord on Shabbat Day. Both Night and Day are kept by both, and when Gerim and Jews perfect the art of Shabbat before Moshiach arrives, we will find an enlightened Night by Jews [as prepared by the Gerim] and a day of Torah for Gerim [as prepared by Jews]. It may be quite simple to say that Jews have kept night and day Shabbat forever, yet the emphasis comes within, “Shall not cease” – as if in taking shifts while one sleeps, the other takes command.
The Zohar states that through this, Holiness will pour into the World, and levels of never seen before Wisdom will enter our lives. As we grow in Holiness, Hashem will reveal Himself in Awesome revelation that will allow Mankind to repair the World for the Messianic Age. Thus we find two verses that the Zohar shows how Jews and Gerim working together in their mutual Shabbat, are foretold as “You shall guard my Sabbaths” and “Night and Day shall not cease.” As the story usually goes with Jews and Gerim, the Torah and Kabbalah are predicated around the existence and fulfillments of these two Nations; Shabbat perhaps is the greatest example of unity, partnership, and Brotherhood that is prerequisite to God’s Most Holy Day.
We find yet another theme in the Zohar, that Noach is synonymous with Shabbat, for his prophetic name means what Shabbat is by definition: Rest! Parashas Noach may be a great source to learn about Shabbat, but truth be told, it is THE GUIDE to understanding redemption for all of time, either by simple definition of the past, or by looking forward in prophecy by means of the allegorical truth latent in the Parsha.
Yet one topic that is utterly buried in the Parsha, and is often overlooked [if not blatantly left out] is the life and story of Shem. Underneath all of the redemption plotlines of the Parsha starring Noach, we are bound to get caught up in the Noach – Abraham comparisons that will spill over into Lech Lecha. The missing link to these Parshiot, and to the Torah itself is Shem and the Torah of Shem. We are told by tradition that Shem stood for peace as lesson learned against the evil that existed in the days prior to the Flood. Thus for the Parsha that carries the loudest undertones for Shabbat is defined by definitions of Peace / Shalom.
The Arizal says that Noach and Shem are the same aspect in two different people; each one giving a unique perspective of Torah, for we needed two people to express what the Mouth of God can say as one. If Hashem said “Remember and Guard the Shabbat Day” [the Torah captures both versions, and fittingly enough alludes to both Jews and Gerim separately in each location] in one utterance [as we heard two], then perhaps the message of Noach and Shem [to Abraham the First amongst the Gerim and all other Gerim] is simple…The path to redemption can be enveloped in the simple yet eloquent greeting that World will one day be announcing in every city on the planet; none other than, “Shabbat Shalom.” Once this is said, then His “Mikdash you shall fear” – as Shem and Abraham stood in Jerusalem [fear/Shalom lit.], obvious secrets of Torah hidden no more.
Audio Shiur on Parasha 11 P.M. [Tzfat Time] Yom Rishon [Sunday Night]