Rebbe Aba opened his discourse with the verse "If you restrain your traveling because of the Shabbat, from pursuing your business on My holy day, and call the Shabbat a delight, to sanctify the honor of G‑d, and honor it, not doing your usual things, nor pursuing your own desires or speaking of mundane things, then shall you delight yourself in the Lord." (Isaiah 58:13-14). How happy is the lot of Israel, that the Holy One blessed be He chose them to bind to out of all of the other people's of the earth, and out of the love for them brought them closer to Him and gave them the Torah and gave them the Shabbat which is the most holy of all the other days [of the week]. It has rest from everything and is the happiness of all [Israel].

The commentary on the Zohar, Matok MiDvash, notes that the three expressions regarding Shabbat that are a reference to the three higher sefirot. Shabbat is called "Holy" which is rooted in the sefira of chochma; "rest" from all outside influences is sourced in keter, and "happiness" refers to the sefira of bina. This in turn hints that the soul, which dwells in these three highest sefirot, is rejuvenated by the Shabbat.

The Shabbat balances against the whole Torah and one who keeps the Shabbat is considered as though he has kept the whole Torah.

Since the Shabbat rejuvenates the soul, and since the Torah is called a "tree of life", one can be balanced against the other. This explains the secular world's fight against the Shabbat - because once you "defeat Shabbat" you defeat the Torah. Indeed the pious waves of immigrants to America from Russia 100 years ago became estranged from the Torah as a direct result of being drawn into the desecration of Shabbat, feeling they had to "fight for their bread" also on that holy day. …delight in everything, delight of the spirit and of the body…

"And you shall call to the Shabbat a delight" (Isaiah 58:13). [This means] delight in everything; delight of the spirit and of the body, enjoyment of the higher and lower worlds. And what is the meaning of the words "You shall call to [the Sabbath]"? This means that you have to invite it, as is written, "Called Holy" (Lev. 23:2). This means that you call to it or invite it, just as one would invite a guest into his house.

Here the Zohar tells us the mental attitude required to obtain the full delight of the Shabbat. It is a frame of mind where one is expecting a delightful guest, and then, once the guest arrives, to enjoy their company. This explains why the holy Ari would literally go out into the fields to greet the Shabbat. This was a physical manifestation of an inner state of mind that enables one to cling to the sanctity of the day. This is also the reason behind the other customs of greeting the Shabbat.

[Therefore, one should greet the Shabbat] with the house in proper order, with food and drink worthy and fitting [a special guest], more than on other days.

Zohar, Parashat Beshalach, pg. 47a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.