There are two accounts of the Ten Commandments, in Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5. One of the main divergences in the two texts is in the Fourth Commandment, the Shabbat. The Rabbis taught that both texts were simultaneously pronounced, indicating a basic unity, or complementary nature.

In Exodus the reason for Shabbat is the fact that G‑d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. In Deuteronomy Shabbat commemorates Egyptian slavery. In the first, "G‑d blessed the seventh day and hallowed it”; in the second, "G‑d commanded you to make the Shabbat day."

Shabbat is more than a breathing spell. "The seventh day is Shabbat, for G‑d" Shabbat has social and spiritual implications, elements that cannot be divorced. Every man needs a day of rest for his well-being, physical and emotional. Society must recognize certain rights of man and beast, assuring all some respite from their labors. Even (especially?) in this age of enlightenment and technology we must not underestimate the tangible benefits of Shabbat, surcease from the jangling tensions of work and so-called recreation. Many of us are no less slaves in a fairly literal sense than Pharaoh's were.

Shabbat is more than a breathing spell. "The seventh day is Shabbat, for G‑d." Only a Shabbat can give us the tranquillity necessary to reassess our strivings, to perceive a goal different from the means toward it, so that we will work and live for a worthwhile purpose. Shabbat is the climax of the week, not just a preparation for next week's work. Is there a better day for quiet unhurried worship, for study or simply browsing in Torah? Is there a better way to bring Jewishness and human warmth into our homes than through a traditional Shabbat?

There is sanctity inherent in Shabbat, for "G‑d hallowed it." But the perfection of Shabbat depends on us, it seems, because we were "commanded to make the Shabbat."