At first the Almighty created the heavens and the earth. (Bereshith 1:1)
Every artisan has their own unique signature that they integrate into their work so that the identity of the artist can be ascertained immediately. Our Sages tell us, “The seal is of the Almighty is emeth (truth).”1 This signature can be found in the Torah, God’s blueprint for designing the world: the letters of the word emeth occur as the last letters of words in numerous places in the creation narrative.2
A seal is an emblem that is unique to its bearer.3 The attribute of emeth would not seem to fit that description, for throughout history there have been numerous individuals who lived their lives with a total dedication to the truth. In its ultimate form though, emeth is a trait that is unique to the Almighty, for it refers to the characteristic of permanence and perpetuity. God is the only Being whose existence is eternal, as He describes Himself, “I am the first, I am the last, I exist always.”4 This concept is hinted at in the letters of His seal, aleph, mem, tuf, which are the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet.5
On the same note, our Sages liken the first six days of creation to the band of a signet ring fashioned expressly for a sovereign. As beautiful as the band of the ring might be, it only serves a decorative purpose. Only the seal makes the ring a functional item with a clearly defined purpose. So too, without Shabboth one could easily make the mistake of thinking that there is no intrinsic purpose in creation, and that we should merely strive to fulfill our physical needs. Just as the presence of the seal reveals the purpose of the band of the ring, in the same way Shabboth reveals the purpose of the weekdays. The creation of Shabboth, a day completely dedicated to focusing on the spiritual aspects of life, made the spiritual purpose of existence clear.
1. Shabboth 55a; Yoma 69b.
2. Bereshith 1:1; 1:4; 1:21; 1:27; 1:31; 2:3.
3. Shomer Emunim p. 57.
4. Yeshiah 41:4
5. Rashi Shabboth 55a.
Priceless Integrity, Copyright © 2001 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org.
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