The Soul of Shabbos by Reb Shlomo Carlebach
“G-d created the world in six days and on Shabbos He rested.” What a sad translation! On Shabbos, G-d gave the world a soul.On Shabbos G-d created the world of souls, of depth, of tasting that which is most real. Shabbos is the Name of G-d.
The holy Shabbos, the most longed for day, is the day which gives us the strength to begin again. Three things are called chemda, which means longing and wanting in an absolute, crazy way (holy craziness): Shabbos, the Torah, and Israel. A true Jew is possessed by this holy, incurable craziness.
A Shabbos Test. If you want to know how much you like a person, see if you can sit with the person without doing anything. Shabbos is therefore given to you. Do nothing and show your love for Hashem.
The Mitzvah of Shabbos is Shabbos: When Shabbos comes I am yearning to serve G-d in the most infinite way. During the week, my finite and infinite self are apart. On Shabbos my finite and infinite self are brought together by Shabbos—the Mitzvah of Shabbos is Shabbos itself. The Yid HaKodesh said: “Some people eat fish on Shabbos and some eat Shabbos on Shabbos”.
The Preciousness of Shabbos: The Socheshever Rebbe, the son-in-law of the Kotzker Rebbe, said: “Imagine if I stop keeping Shabbos; I stop not because I don’t like the value Shabbos has, but because it is no longer precious to me. So, when I do tshuvah I am to learn the preciousness of Judaism.” Anything that is given to you by G-d you don’t receive, unless you know how precious it is. I can be married, but if I don’t know how precious it is, it will be nothing.
“You can keep every Shabbos to the letter of the law, but unless Shabbos reaches the deepest and highest place in your heart. you haven’t kept Shabbos.”
Shabbos Shalom: There are some moments when I have to feel perfect, complete (shaleim). Six days a week I work like a dog and can’t have that feeling. On Shabbos I receive a divinely inspired feeling of serenity, peacefulness, completeness—Shabbos Shalom—because of its holiness one feels perfection. This day will give you the strength to ‘fix’ yourself during the week. You will know what to ‘fix’ because you will have just experienced a period of time when you had a complete soul.
Shabbos is back in Paradise. Paradise is a place where everything is good, everything is holy, everything is beautiful. Paradise is a place where suddenly it’s clear to me that I can fix all my mistakes. And even more so, everything I thought was a mistake, every street I thought was the wrong street was the only way to get there.
When G-d drove Adam from Paradise, he retained part of his soul to remain there. On Shabbos, G-d releases that part and gives it back to man. This is our extra soul of Shabbos. On this day we are given the opportunity to return to Paradise. The question is asked, where would Adam have gone on Shabbos if he had not been driven out of Paradise? G-d would have taken him to Jerusalem, the Jerusalem of High, which has not yet been revealed to us. Paradise is a place I know from before; Jerusalem above, I have never experienced. Now, I must be satisfied with Paradise on Shabbos; in the future we hope to be brought to Jerusalem of High.
According to our holy tradition, on the Sabbath you have to be in a higher place than during the week. Everybody knows that G-d created Adam and Eve on Friday, before the Sabbath, on the sixth day of creation. And according to our tradition, on that very same day they ate of the forbidden fruit. and in just one second before sunset they were driven out from Paradise.
But then, on the Sabbath, G-d took them back into Paradise. So even if the world is driven out from Paradise during the other six days of the week, on Shabbos the whole world has a chance to go back to Paradise.
Shabbos has two faces. There is keeping the Shabbos holy, the thirty-nine laws of Shabbos, the withdrawing from the world, a non-power kind of like. But then there is the bliss of Shabbos, the inside of Shabbos, which is a gift from Heaven. The bliss of Shabbos is even deeper than Paradise. It’s a secret between G-d and me, between me and the people I love so much. Shabbos is peace because peace is secrets, secrets of the depths, of the deepest depths. Secrets are the deepest G-d revelation. A true Shabbos person is someone who walks the streets of the world and every human being he sees, he shares a secret with. But with those he loves it’s the secret of all secrets.
On Shabbos we say, “Shabbos hi milzok, refuah krovah livoh.” Shabbos is the deepest healing in the world. Our holy rabbis teach us that a doctor can only heal a foot or hand; they cannot replace it with a new one. But Shabbos, on a spiritual level, gives us back our hands and feet. Not only this, Shabbos gives us new minds, new eyes and new ears, gevalt!
Shabbos is the strongest vitamin because its nutrients are those which can heal the soul. On Shabbos, new energy is coming down from Heaven. But the energy and its spiritual nutrients refuses to be received in dirty vessels. There are many ways we can do the cleansing and purification on our own. But for those of us who can’t do even that, so for one second before Shabbos purity and holiness also descend into the world. Happy are those who can receive it and fill their heart with it.
Shabbos is the highest energy center in the world. It’s not a day when you’re not doing anything. Shabbos is the day when your soul is at the most, most high. What’s the most precious possession of a human being? According to Rebbe Nachman, it’s our thoughts, what we can imagine with our minds and hearts.
On Shabbos our thoughts have to be so high, so heavenly that we can talk to G-d. And not only to G-d, but people, too! Because if you can’t feel close to someone standing next to you, to someone you can see with your eyes, then how can you feel close to someone you can’t see? And the more you look at people with great love, the more you can see G-d in everyone. But whether we look at people with great love or not, whether our thoughts are heavenly or not,
on Shabbos something happens to the world—the world becomes infinite again.
Shabbos is different from all other holidays. The Gemara explains that if there were no Jews in the world, there would be no Jewish holidays. But Shabbos will always exist, even if there be no Jew to observe it, because on Shabbos something happens to the world, G-d opens the gates, and something so holy comes from heaven down to us, and all we have to do is pick it up.
The Zohar HaQodesh asks, how did Noah have the strength to resist a world that was rotten to the core? When everyone around him seemed perverted and crazy, Noah and his family held out alone, right? Where did he get the strength from?
Well, the name “Noah” is the same as the Hebrew word for “rest”. The Zohar HaQodesh says that Noah wanted to serve G-d, Noah wanted to keep Shabbos. Since nobody else picked up the power that came down from heaven, Noah and his family could take it all! And that’s how he had the strength to resist the world. He had the power of the world in his bones.
So, every Shabbos, imagine if you would pick up from the world the power of heaven. Imagine how much strength you would get, how much holiness you could put in your bones.
According to the great Kabbalists, water was never created; it always was just there. In the Book of Genesis it never says that G-d created water. Water has the power of “Beyond Creation”, the power to wash you clean and make everything grow. Our rabbis teach us that in order to really feel the blessing of Shabbos you have first to immerse in the mikveh.
The Lights of Shabbos: The lights that our Mother Sarah lit were burning from Friday to Friday. When I kindle a light in the week, anyone can blow it out. However, Friday night, the lighting of the candles is performed with such spiritual strength, that their glow lasts from Friday to Friday. According to our logic, the light of Shabbos, G-d’s light, is so infinitely powerful what can the candle add? But this is one of the fixings of Eve’s eating of the tree of Knowledge. Because it isn’t true that the candle is insignificant. According to the Tree of Life every candle makes the light more infinite and more deep. G-d’s light is like a Picasso, it is so beyond beautiful that it can’t reach inside my soul. But a painting of my own sweetest Dari has the light of the little candle of Shabbos that mamash tears my heart apart.
Shabbos comes and Shabbos is everywhere. You can’t walk out on Shabbos. But this is only on the Outside. Kabbalos Shabbos, we are making ourselves into vessels to receive Shabbos into the deepest most Inside depths of our soul.
Friday night is the fixing of jealousy. Jealousy comes from thinking that someone can take your place or your portion. And in the deepest depths it’s my own emptiness, my own incapability to retain what G-d is giving me. But Friday night, when my heart becomes so full, so overflowing full, like the wine from the Kiddush, jealousy is wiped out from my heart, and hopefully, eventually, from the heart of mankind.
The feast of Friday night is the ultimate fixing of the Tree of Knowledge. We are mamash transforming it into the Tree of Life. The Holy Ba’al Shem says that whoever is up Friday night celebrating Shabbos will not leave this world without completing the fixing which he came down in this for.
Shabbos morning is the fixing of grabbing. Because what G-d gives me I don’t have to steal and I don’t even have to take; it’s given to me. A slave takes, a king receives.
The third meal of Shabbos is the fixing of self-esteem, of honor, of giving up hope. The third meal is like the World to Come, when the world will be filled with G-d’s glory, with the glory of every human being, when the honor of a child is enough to fill the whole universe with the deepest of G-d’s honor.
Shalos Seudos, the Third Meal before you say goodbye to Shabbos, is the deepest of all. It’s when you say goodbye to the One you love that it’s clear to you how much He means to you, Our holy rabbis teach us that all day Shabbos is just Shabbos. The Third Meal is Shabbos and Yom Kippur. It’s a must for everyone to spend the last hour of Shabbos in the deepest emotion.
After saying goodbye to Shabbos, we make ourselves a little concert and partake in the Feast of King David who lives forever. The Feast of King David gives us the strength to keep Shabbos alive until the next Shabbos comes.
Shabbos is the deepest healing in the world. Our holy rabbis teach us that a doctor can only heal a foot or a hand; he cannot give you a new one. But
Shabbos, on the spiritual level, gives you back your hands and your feet. It gives you new brains, new eyes, new ears—what a gevalt, Shabbos.
Friday night is the time of seeing, of discovering the unbelievable beauty and sweetness of the world of the Torah, of people, and above all, those I love the most. Shabbos morning is a time of tasting. It’s even deeper than seeing. Most people love each other. But tasting each other’s soul, each other’s depths—that is Shabbos morning. The third meal, and, finally, Havdalah, is smelling, inhaling the fragrance, the beauty which is beyond seeing and tasting, the kind of depth which only my soul can fathom. Happy are those who walk the streets of the world with the fragrance of Shabbos.
G-d created the world in six days and on Shabbos He rested. What a sad translation! On Shabbos G-d gave the world a soul. On Shabbos G-d created a world of souls, of depth, of tasting that which is most real.
Shabbos invites all those who need new energy, all those who have been broken by the world of the six days, who need the world of Shabbos to make their brokenness whole again.
Shabbos invites all those who have so far only felt the pain of life and are crying for the joy, the bliss, the unbelievable heavenliness of being alive in a world created by G-d.
Shabbos invites all those who are tired of walking slowly, who only cover a spiritual inch per lifetime on their journeys. Shabbos invites all those who have traveled through the valleys of sadness, of waiting and waiting all the time. Shabbos is to get to the top of the mountain in one second, and there discover even higher mountains that we may have never ever seen before.
Shabbos invites all those who know, who experienced so much sweetness, so much holiness in life, but it’s clear to them this cannot be all G-d wants to give them. Isn’t G-d infinite? Isn’t life infinite? Shabbos is the name of G-d.
Will you accept the invitation of Shabbos?