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The Jewish Holy Days: Part : V
By Jerry Katz - December 15, 2008


Photo: Howard Sandler
Shabbat is the most important holy day in the Jewish religion. It is the only ritual observance that has its direct roots in one of the Ten Commandments: "Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your G-d; you shall not do any work... For in six days HaShem made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore HaShem blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it."

It is also the most important day in the social and religious lives of Jews all over the world. Shabbat is one day a week that is devoted to rest and spiritual enrichment and has its roots in the Hebrew letters "Shin-Beit-Tav" which means to cease, to end, or to rest. Shabbat is not specifically a day or prayer although prayer is a part of the ritual, but rather it is more a day for Jews to remember who they are and where they have come from.

Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments: to remember (zakhor) Shabbat, and to observe (shamor) Shabbat. Jews are commanded to remember but also to commemorate the creation of the world and the promises made to Jews as the Chosen people as well as a commemoration of the freedom that the ancient Hebrews slaves received in their deliverance from. Jews remember and acknowledge their Creator on this day every week and do so by refraining from work on the Shabbat. The simple explanation as to why Jews rest on the seventh day is that if it was good enough for HaShem, it should be good enough for mere mortals as well. If His work could be done in six days then surely they could emulate that example.
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