Tag Archives: shabbat

Making Room for the Beloved

Engagement RingThe Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, explains the importance of keeping Shabbos with a parable. “God calls Shabbos a gift. Can you imagine a bride receiving a ring from her groom to symbolize their engagement and returning the ring? Everyone understands that this is a definite sign that their engagement is over. Shabbos is like an engagement ring since keeping Shabbos shows that we are betrothed to God. One who violates Shabbos is like a bride who breaks her engagement by returning her ring. How can a person act in a way that breaks his engagement with God, heaven forbid?”

We have no idea of the greatness of Shabbos. The Ohr HaChaim, zt”l, explains that no non-Jew — or even an angel — can fathom the deep connection to God that is imparted to Jews on Shabbos. But many wonder when they will actually come to feel this deep connection on Shabbos themselves.

Daf Yomi Digest
Stories Off the Daf
“Our Betrothal with God”
Chullin 36

One who is full of himself fills all the space around him. There is no room left for anyone else. Therefore, he despises another person by virtue of the space that other person consumes. He may give reasons for his disdain, but the reasons are secondary.

This is called wanton hatred. It is the reason given for our exile. It is the core of all evil. It is balanced and cured by wanton acts of love and kindness.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
“Wanton Love”

It is said in Jewish mystic tradition, that before Creation, God filled all areas of existence and there was no room for anything else but God. This is to be expected from a God who is infinite. When God desired to create the universe for the sake of our world and for us, He had to deliberately withdraw some portion of His infinite being; to “humble” a part of Himself, in order to make the room available for Creation.

God made room for us.

Compare this to the words of the Rebbe I quoted above. People who fill the world around them with only themselves have no room to love others and in fact, the Rebbe calls this “wanton hatred”. This is the very opposite of what God did for us. The quote from the Daf is also an example of making room for the sake of love.

When God created the Shabbat, he “made room” in time, setting aside one-seventh of our week so we could be able to totally devote ourselves to Him. He sanctified that day and made it holy (Genesis 2:2-3). From the Ohr HaChaim’s point of view, the Shabbat is specific to the Jewish people and is a sign of His deep love for the Jews, His beloved, His treasured splendorous people (Deuteronomy 14:2). As we’ve seen, a Jew who rejects the Shabbat is like a woman who throws her engagement ring back in her suitor’s face.

A little over a week ago, I suggested that there could be benefits for Christians to keep the Shabbat in some manner or fashion, in order to honor God and to observe a day when we can be totally devoted to Him. While Jewish sages do not consider non-Jews to be “betrothed” to God and, as we’ve seen, do not believe we are able to comprehend the depth of meaning that Jews experience when observing the Shabbat (and probably we don’t), we are indeed betrothed:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. –Ephesians 5:25-27

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.” –Revelation 19:6-8

The church is sometimes called “the bride of Christ” based on these verses and this indicates that those of us who are grafted into the root of Jesse, and who are joined to the God of Israel through the Covenant of Jesus. also are especially loved. I’m not suggesting that God has two brides and I don’t know how this will all work out in the end, but we can see that God dearly loves both the Jewish people and the non-Jewish disciples of Christ.

Before the coming of Jesus, non-Jews had no way to enter into a special covenant relationship with God. Even the Gentile God-fearers attending synagogues in the Second Temple period, no matter how devoted they became, could not enter into a fully-realized relationship with God unless they converted to Judaism. Christ came and opened the door for the rest of us. He made it possible for us to completely access God and to totally benefit from a “treasured” status with Him through Christ. We were locked out of the promises but He made room for us.

If someone asked you to marry him or her and gave you a ring to symbolize their love, would you throw it back in their face? God made room for us in the Universe and He made room for us in His Kingdom. If He also made room in time for us so we can honor Him and to rest from our cares, shouldn’t we also make room for Him?