Shabbat is Rest: Shabbat is an island of tranquility in the maelstrom of work, anxiety, struggle and tribulation that characterizes our daily lives for the other six days of the week. For approximately 25 hours each week, the world literally comes to a halt: the business is closed, the car stays in the driveway, the phone stops ringing, the radio, TV and computer remain on "off," and the pressures and worries of material life recede behind a curtain of oblivion. As we cease all creative involvement with the physical world, our focus turns inward — to family and friends, to our inner self, to our soul.

For approximately 25 hours each week, the world literally comes to a halt

Shabbat is Awareness: On Shabbat we remember that the world is not ours to do with as we please, but G‑d's creation. On Shabbat we also remember that G‑d took us out of Egypt and decreed that never again shall we be slaves to any alien master — our jobs, financial commitments and material involvements are the tools with which we fulfill our divine purpose, not the masters of our lives.

Shabbat is Jewish Identity: Shabbat is the bride of Israel, the soul-mate of the Jewish people. It is one of the most powerful ways to actualize our Jewishness and pass it along to our children. We have remained true to the Shabbat in every place, culture and circumstance of our 4,000-year history has visited — from the glorious days to the blackest of night. In the words of a famous Jewish writer, "Even more than the Jews have kept the Shabbat, the Shabbat has kept the Jews."

Shabbat is Pleasure: Shabbat is delicious food, a richly-set table, the glow of candlelight, sweet singing, luxuriant sleep. Throughout the week, our enjoyment of life's blessings  poses a certain challenge: we are physical beings in a physical world, and must be ever watchful that pleasure should not sink to decadence. But on Shabbat, both body and soul are elevated to a higher, more spiritual plane, and to pleasure the Shabbat with food, drink and comfort is a mitzvah, a G‑dly deed.

Shabbat is Spirituality: Shabbat is the soul of the week — the vision that vitalizes it and the vision towards which it strives. The Kabbalists teach: On Shabbat all the accomplishments of the previous week achieve fulfillment and elevation, and from the Shabbat all endeavors of the upcoming week are blessed. Keeping the Shabbat secures G‑d's blessing for success for our entire week, and infuses purpose and meaning into our week-long existence.

Shabbat is a Taste of the World to Come: "In that time there will be no hunger or war, no jealousy or rivalry. For the good will be plentiful, and all delicacies available as dust. The entire occupation of the world will be only to know G‑d." So do the prophets and sages of Israel describe the Age of Redemption — the "seventh millennium" that will constitute the realization and fulfillment of six millennia of human history and endeavor to make this world a "home for G‑d."

Shabbat is our weekly taste of this future world.

And much like the taste of any delicious food, one cannot truly understand what Shabbat is until one has experience it oneself. In the final analysis, the only answer to "What is Shabbat?" is: Try it!