05. The Six Days of Creation and Shabbat

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The six weekdays and Shabbat are interconnected. Just as every person has a body and a soul, so too the week has a body and a soul: weekdays are its body and Shabbat is its soul. Just as a wholesome person’s body and soul work together harmoniously – the body receiving spiritual illumination from the soul and providing it with the means to express itself – so, too, a wholesome week integrates Shabbat with the days of the week. During the week we prepare for Shabbat and give concrete expression to the ideas behind Shabbat, while on Shabbat we draw the spiritual strength that takes us through the week.

On the one hand, we relate to Shabbat as the weekend. All week we prepare for its culmination – Shabbat – which in turn elevates the actions undertaken during the six weekdays and imbues them with meaning. On the other hand, Shabbat is also the anchor and beginning of the next week. From Shabbat we draw spiritual strength for the upcoming week so that we are able to realize, through our activities, the spiritual values that we absorb on Shabbat. Thus, the life of a Jew is not a uniform continuum that moves toward erosion and entropy. On the contrary, it is a life of constant elevation.

These two aspects can be explained as follows: from the perspective of the world, the creation of the six weekdays preceded Shabbat, while from the perspective of man, created on the sixth day, Shabbat preceded the following six days (see Shabbat 69b).

The Sages offer another perspective on the relationship between Shabbat and weekdays: Shabbat is in the middle of the week, with three days preceding it and three days following it. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we prepare for the upcoming Shabbat, and on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday the influence of the outgoing Shabbat is still felt (Pesaĥim 106a; see below 2:10-11; 8:7).

Since Shabbat is linked to the six weekdays, it is clear that the greater one’s actions during the week, the greater the heights he will achieve on Shabbat. Similarly, the greater the heights he attains on Shabbat, the more he will be able to infuse the ensuing week with sanctity and meaning.

Maharal explains that the idea of Shabbat is hinted at in the number of days of the week. Everything physical has six sides: up, down, front, back, right, and left. The number seven expresses inner essence. Similarly, the physical world was created in six days, and on the seventh day Shabbat, the sacred essence of the world, was created (Tiferet Yisrael ch. 40).

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