by Rabbi Yehoshua Aron Sofer
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"And Hashem completed on the seventh day His work which he did..."
Shabbos is commonly known as the sign that HaShem created the entire universe during the first six days and rested on the seventh. Through our observing the Shabbos, we are testifying that HaShem created all. One might ask why the day of rest is chosen to commemorate the creation and not rather a day of creation itself. How does a day with an absence of creation testify to creation?
Rashi brings a Midrash which states that there actually was creation on the Shabbos day - the creation of "menucha" (rest). Therefore, perhaps the Shabbos is no less than any other day of creation. Yet, this Midrash requires understanding. How can "menucha" be considered a creation? It seems rather but the absence of work.
The Bais HaLevi explains that it is incorrect to interpret the concept of HaShem's resting on the Shabbos literally. We say in our davening each morning: "One who creates anew each day the work of the beginning". Even after HaShem first created the world, it is unable to continue to exist without a constant creation commanded by Him. the very wonders of the first creation never cease to be performed by HaShem. If so, how is it possible to understand that HaShem rested on Shabbos. If He rested from creation, how could the world exist?
Therefore, the Bais HaLevi explains, there must be a different meaning of "rest" when used in reference to HaShem. "Work" refers to the original days of the creation during which things appeared for the very first time. "Rest" also means creation, a creation of things which already existed. During the first six days Hashem "worked", creating a new world. One Shabbos He "rested", ceasing from creating new, but rather constantly repeating the original creation. this is the meaning of the Midrash, that on the seventh day "menucha" was created. "Menucha" is not the absence of work, but rather a different form of creation, a second creation.
When we commemorate the creation through our observance of Shabbos, we are not so much commemorating the six days of creation, but rather the creation which transpired on Shabbos, the never ceasing creation being performed by HaShem. This form of creation is in a sense more meaningful to us as we are testifying that the entire universe at this present moment is being created anew by HaShem, and that "nature" is but the constant manifestation of HaShem's creation.
Chazal teach us that one who celebrates and enjoys the Shabbos day will be rewarded with a boundless share. The Bais HaLevi explains that in his association with the concept of Shabbos, he is showing that "nature" does not exist, all is but the constant performance of the creation by HaShem. therefore, his reward will not be confined by the "laws of nature", and will merit a limitless share.
Rabbi Yehoshua Aron Sofer, Kollel Beis HaTalmud Yehuda Fishman Institute, Melbourne Australia
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