One who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man. – Abraham Joshua Heschel
Friday night arrives. I know what my task is at this moment. I am to stop affecting the world and live in harmony with it. Even though I am a tangle of yearnings, on this day everything is to be perfect. I am to be satisfied with the many blessings that I have in my life. For once, I am to be at peace with the universe. – Rabbi David Wolpe
Light a candle.
Softly the Shabbat has plucked
The sinking sun.
Slowly the Shabbat descends,
The rose of heaven in her hand.
How can the Shabbat
Plant a huge and shining flower
In a blind and narrow heart?
How can the Shabbat plant the bud of angels
In a heart of raving flesh?
Can the rose of immortality grow
In an age enslaved to destruction,
An age enslaved
Light a candle!
Slowly the Shabbat descends
And in her hand
The flower, and in her hand the sinking sun… – Zelda, Israeli poet
It is out light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves – who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing mall does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence liberates others. – Maya Angelou
Shabbat is known by many names. It is a Rest Day, and the Day of Peace, a taste of the messianic world to come…but it is also a Coronation Day, for our spiritual queen – in fact it is a day in which we are all royalty and we all don crowns of added spirit. It is simultaneously a wedding day, a day of love for our Bride, Shabbat, and its metaphoric wedding ring is a band that ties us to God and to eternity. – Abram Sterne, clinical psychologist
An American Peace Corps volunteer from Brooklyn recalls that he often lit Shabbat candles alone in Gualtemala. Even all by himself, the candle lighting still ushered in a sense of home and of sanctity. He recalled the Rabbinic Midrash that says that while all the animals were created two by two, both Shabbat and the Jewish people were first created in isolation without a life partner though they were meant for one another. With Shabbat the volunteer was never without a loving partner.
The world of matter has six dimensions – all measureable, weighable, East, west, south, north up and down. But Shabbat adds a spiritual seventh dimension… sanctity. – Rabbi Judah Loew, Maharal of Prague.
The commandment to sanctify Shabbat was the first call to humanity at large for real equality, And the first summons for freeing man from the bondage of man, for freeing man from himself, from the routine of work. This was the first significant taste of freedom and equality. And this taste has never faded since. – Shimon Peres, Prime Minister of Israel, Nobel Prize for Peace Winner
May it be God’s Will, that I be privileged to receive this holy Shabbat with happiness and joy, with song and excitement. Protect me so that no sadness or depression, no anguish or worry will mar my Shabbat. May I be happy with all my soul, with all my heart and with all my strength. Let this happiness without limit encompass the world, your people Israel, me, my spouse, and the members of my household. Amen. – Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav
The invitation to Shabbat is…an invitation to depth, to the interior castle, to come home and to greet the shining face of the shekhina in all of those around us. – Mordechai Gafmi
The Torah says “Six days shall you labor and do all your work.” But the Rabbis challenged: is it possible for human beings to do all their work in six days? No rather the Torah means act as if all your work were finished. Alternatively, perhaps the Torah meant that after six days you must rest from all you work, even the thought of your work. – Wayne Muller
The setting sun ushers in a unit of time where the flowers of the field stand over and against man as equal members of the universe. I am forbidden to pluck the flower or to do with it as I please; at sunset the flower becomes a “thou” to me with a right to existence regardless of its value for me. I stand silently before nature as before a fellow creature of God and not as a potential object of my control, and I must face the fact that I am a man and not God. The Sabbath aims at healing the human grandiosity of technological society. – David Hartman
A person reaches in three directions: inward, to oneself. Up, to God. Out, to others. The miracle of life is that in truly reaching in any one direction one embraces all three. – Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev.
The virtue of angels is that they cannot deteriorate; their flaw is that they cannot improve. The flaw of human beings is that they do deteriorate. Their virtue is that they can improve. – Hassidic saying
It takes three things to attain a sense of significance: God, a soul, and a moment. These three things are always here. Just to be is a blessing. Just to be is a blessing. – Abraham Joshua Heschel
I love to change the world,
But I rarely appreciate things as they are.
I know how to give,
But I don’t always know how to receive.
I know how to keep busy,
But I don’t often listen.
I look, but I don’t often see.
I yearn to succeed,
But I often forget what is truly important.
Teach me, God, to slow down. May my resting revive me.
May it lead me to wisdom, to holiness
To peace and to You. – Rabbi Naomi Levy
Refreshed and renewed,
Attired in festive garments,
With candles nodding dreamily to
To intuitions of eternity,
Some of us are overcome with a feeling
As if almost all they would say would be like a veil.
There is not enough grandeur in our souls
To be able to unravel in words
The knot of time and eternity.
One should like to sing for all men,
For all generations…
There is a song in the wind
And joy in the trees.
The Sabbath arrives in the world,
Scattering a song in the silence of the night;
Eternity utters a day. Where are the words
That could compete with such might? – Abraham Joshua Heschel
The Jewish people were given three crowns:
The crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood and the crown of sovereignty. The crown of priesthood was given to Aaron and his descendants…the crown of sovereignty was given to David and his descendants…but the crown of Torah is for every Jew. Whoever desires may come and claim it…it is the greatest crown of all. – Maimonides