A Taste of the Next World
that you are about to take a trip to another world.
You are preparing for a most exciting experience. It will be a totally different place, and you are looking forward to things you have never seen or experienced before.
But it is different, and you will have to adjust to it. Your experiences here will be of little use to you once you get there.
You are given an instruction manual, telling you how to live on this new world. It is a thick book, filled with detailed charts and lists. You read it through and are left very confused and distressed. How can one understand this new world? How will one possibly adjust to all these complex conditions and rules? Before you have started, you are almost ready to abandon the trip completely.
But you make up your mind and decide to go through with the trip. You get there, and as you expected, find it very difficult to adjust, but then the days pass, and you become used to your new world. After a while, all your questions and apprehensions have vanished.
A while later, you look at your instruction manual again. This time, you read it in a new light. Most of it now seems very obvious. Things look very different now that you have experienced them.
For many of us, the Sabbath is a new world.
We have difficulty understanding and really feeling its significance. Reading a book like this only seems to complicate the matter. It is talking of a world that seems very alien. We read, but somehow do not understand.
When put in writing, keeping the Sabbath seems like an impossibly difficult task. How can one remember all the rules and regulations, much less observe them? How can one possibly keep the Sabbath in this modem day and age?
It is not as difficult as it sounds. Hundreds of thousands of Jews all over the world keep the Sabbath, and the number is increasing every year. And, for most of them, observing it is one of the easiest and most enjoyable things possible.
But there is really only one way to learn about the Sabbath.
That is by trying it.
You may struggle through it on your own for a few weeks. A much easier way is to spend a few Sabbaths with an observant family and learn how to feel the mood, or you might spend a weekend or two at a Shabbaton. But gradually, you will learn the feeling of Shabbos, and once you really feel it, you will never forget it.
But Shabbat must also be a do-it-yourself project. In order to really feel the Shabbat, you cannot wait for it to come to you. You must get into it. The Torah tells us (Ex. 31:16) "to make the Sabbath." Every person must make his own Shabbat. You must prepare yourself and get into the mood. Only then will you be able to feel its true significance, for Shabbos is not an intellectual exercise. If it were, meditating about it would be enough. We might provide explanations, but true understanding only comes from doing and feeling.
In a way, Shabbat is like love. You can talk about love for the rest of your life, but if you have never experienced it, you will never understand it. Once you have been in love though, no further discussion is necessary.
Shabbat is a bond of love between ourselves and G-d.
To understand it, you must experience it.
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