This week’s parshah begins with the first gathering of the nation before Moses since the sin of the golden calf, its repercussions and ultimately, God’s forgiveness. The first thing Moses says to them is:
For a period of six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for the Lord.
The Israelites have already heard about Shabbat during the ten commandments, and again with the instructions for building the mishkan: Why does Moses begin with it here again?
It’s fairly simple actually. Shabbat grounds us. It brings us back to who we are as God’s nation, who we are as a family and who we are as individuals. At the end of a busy week, where we have each gone our separate ways to work and school, rushed to activities, struggled through homework and most significantly, negotiated with our electronic devices, Shabbat is a 25-hour pause. It is a chance to connect with God, with each other and with ourselves.
After the chaos of the golden calf where the mob mentality overtook Aaron’s authority, where the people’s despair over Moses’ absence turned to madness, Moses reminds them that Shabbat is the opportunity to press “refresh” before we begin again.
From candle lighting on Friday until the Havdalah candle Saturday night, there is a quiet that descends not only in the house, but also in one’s often frantic, multi-tasking head. I recommend it highly.