The first mitzvah we encounter in this week’s Parsha is that of a Jewish slave. “If you buy a Jewish bondsman, he shall work for six years; and in the seventh he shall go free, for no charge. If he shall arrive by himself, he shall leave by himself; if he is the husband of a woman, his wife shall leave with him.” (Chapter 21, Verses 2-3) Rebbe Noson discusses why, in a deeper sense, a Jewish slave must be set free after six years. He explains that truly slavery has no connection to the Jewish people whatsoever. Therefore this Jewish man who fell into such a low state where he was sold by the Beis Din (Jewish court) to be a servant in order to pay back the victims he stole from, needs to be set free in the seventh year. The seventh year is the aspect of Shabbos. Shabbos is a taste of Heaven in this world and it’s above time. On Shabbos the light of faith shines in a much more powerful way. This Jewish servant, due to a lack of knowledge and faith fell so much into the limitations of this world to the point that he was sold to work in servitude, because of his theft. Therefore this Jewish slave should not work more than six years, because “in the seventh he shall go free, for no charge”; on Shabbos every person on their level, even someone who had been a Jewish slave, can connect to this aspect of the nullification of time. He can go above the confines of this world, and he can connect to faith and holiness which are above the limitations of time. (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Bris Milah, 4th teaching)
Hashem is above time and space, and we can connect to this reality even more on Shabbos than during the week. We can rise above our daily constrictions and stresses and connect to a different reality. Personally, this is an area where I struggle a lot. Many times I find myself constricted about times and my daily schedule. For example, what time do I want leave in the morning to take my daughter to school and to go to shul? If we are late for whatever reason I feel tense and nervous. I feel a loss of control. If I need to be at a meeting or appointment at a certain time, I usually have anxiety about getting ready and leaving on time. Many times in life I feel the constriction of time. However, we learn from this teaching that when we let go of control and have faith that we will get to our destination exactly when we are supposed to get there, this will relieve a lot of the stress and anxiety involved. The more knowledge and faith that we merit to obtain, the less we will feel the constrictions of time and space. We’re really not in control, and when we let go and let Hashem into our lives, we will see how He is helping us exactly in those times and situations where we don’t see how it will work out, based on our limited perception. Shabbos gives us the faith and the strength to rise above these stressful situations. On Shabbos we testify that Hashem created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh day. By keeping the Shabbos, we express our faith that He is the Creator and King of the World, and through this faith we can rise above the limitations of time and space which we feel are holding are us back.
Rebbe Nachman says in the book Advice that through keeping Shabbos we merit to obtain emunah (faith). All of the blessings and abundance which we receive from giving tzedakah or other forms of kindness, they only have completion through Shabbos, which is the source of all blessing. Any aspect of completion which we can obtain in this world is through the holiness of Shabbos. Rebbe Nachman adds too that true knowledge and understanding of the Torah are also obtained through the holiness of Shabbos. This gives us a little taste of how important and central Shabbos is to our lives as Jews. (Shabbos, 2nd teaching)
Shabbos is a taste of the World to Come, a taste of Heaven. We can taste and experience a little bit of Heaven here in this world through the holiness of Shabbos. We need these special times of the year, Shabbos every week, and all the other holidays during the year where we can re-charge and connect ourselves on a much deeper level to our faith and to true knowledge. These special times during the calendar will give us the clarity, strength and faith to deal with daily life, to overcome all of the challenges we face and enable us to find meaning in everything we go through in our lives.
(The image is courteous of Yehoshua Wiseman)