When the Jewish nation has troubles we need to know that it is a time for introspection. Only those without faith believe that things happen randomly. The Jewish Nation, who exists only through miracles, knows that nothing is random. There was a great sage, Reb Tzadok HaKohein, who wrote that when we have enemies from without, it is just a physical expression of the advance of the enemy from within, the inclination to go against G-d’s will which we all have. This is a profound and novel idea to understand that there is something we can all do to better the stuation of Jews everywhere. The question is, what exactly should we do, and if we wish to conquer the enemy from within, where do we start?
This question is really a question which every individual must ask himself, and consequently the answer will be according to the individual. Nevertheless, there is definetely a communal answer to this question as well. Let us see what we find in this week’s parsha regarding this.
“And Moshe assembled the entire congregation of the Children of Israel and he said to them: “these are the things which G-d commanded to do (them). Six days work should be done, and on the seventh day it should be sanctified, a restful sabbath to G-d…” (Exodus 35:1-2).
Shabbos. Moshe assembled every Jew and informed them about the sanctity of the seventh day; the day G-d ceased creating. The day He shared with us to celebrate with Him. It is a day when things are different. A day when we can forget what we do and remember who we are – who we really are – in relation to G-d, and in relation to the scheme of the creation of the universe. Making Shabbos a special day is the way we actively show our belief in the Creator. We declare it with one day a week. We declare it communally! With unity!
Moshe assembled the entire nation to teach us that Shabbos is a key to unity. All efforts toward building the holy Tabernacle of G-d’s presence ceased before Shabbos every week. Shabbos observance overrides building the Tabernacle to house G-d’s presence!
Shabbos is the sign between us and G-d. The Chofetz Chaim writes that as long as the “sign” is up over a place of business we know that the business is still operating, even if sometimes the store is closed. When the sign comes down, then we know that the business is closed. Our business is to be G-d’s people in all aspects of our life. When the Shabbos “sign” is up, we know we’re still in business. When, G-d forbid, the sign comes down, we should be concerned that our relationship with G-d is in bankruptcy, or worse.
Each of us on our own level should give some thought to Shabbos. From Friday at sundown until Saturday evening when the stars are out, it is Shabbos. Let us at the very least remember that it’s Shabbos. Turn to a loved one and wish them a good Shabbos. Become part of the Shabbos experience; the freedom, the holiness, and the profundity of sharing G-d’s resting day. Let us begin to control the communal enemy from within by assembling in spirit on Shabbos, and then G-d will begin to vanquish the enemy from without.
Text Copyright © 2001 Rabbi Dovid Green and Project Genesis, Inc.