"And Moses gathers the Jewish people," so begins this week's Torah reading. This was one of the most important meetings ever that Moses held with his nation. It was the morrow of Yom Kippur, the day after G‑d said "I forgive!" in response to Moses' forty-day-long entreaty atop Mount Sinai on the Jews' behalf, following the sin of the Golden Calf.

And now Moses was having a "huddle" with his flock.

Here is what Moses had to say:

"These are the words which G‑d has commanded, that you should do them: Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day shall be to you a holy day, a sabbath of sabbaths to G‑d..."1

Many questions arise when analyzing the text, let's discuss four of them:

  1. Is the Shabbat the first thing that Moses needed to share with the Jewish people after coming down from the mountain? How about a talk on repentance, or perhaps a serious admonishment regarding the gravity of their sin!
  2. Observance of the Shabbat is one of the Ten Commandments, which the Jews heard 120 days earlier on Mount Sinai. Why the repetition?
  3. "Sabbath of Sabbaths"?
  4. And finally, why the intro – "Six days work shall be done" – isn't that quite obvious?

A fool answers the last question first,2 but in this case, we must discuss our last question first, for in it lies the answer to the preceding ones.

Is the Shabbat the first mitzvah that Moses needed to share after coming down from the mountain?Let's take a look at those six words a third time: "Six days work shall be done." Does anything strike you as anomalistic in the choice of words?

Why does the Torah use the passive voice, "work shall be done," which connotes that the work gets done by itself, and not the straightforward active voice: "you shall do work"?

The answer is that Moses was not (only) telling the Jewish nation how to observe the Sabbath, rather he was teaching them how observe Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Moses was saying the following:3

My fellow Jews, I just came down from the mountain. The reason I went up there was because of the grave sin of idolatry you committed. Now I want to tell you that idolatry does not only refer to one who serves a calf of gold, there are many other forms of the sin.

In fact, every time a person believes that there is someone or something else in control of his destiny other than G‑d, he is, in a sense, serving idols. Let's use money as an example. So many believe that the more you work, the smarter you are, and the more connections you have, the greater the resulting surplus in your bank account.

My fellow Jews, believing that there are factors other than G‑d that influence your livelihood is a form of idolatry! And I don't want anyone to ever fall into that trap. I wish to teach you how to not to serve the golden calf ever again:

Remember these words: "Six days work shall be done." The work is really getting done "by itself," because G‑d runs the world and He, and only He, runs the market. The work you do is merely a conduit through which you receive the beneficence that G‑d had allocated for you.

"Believing that there are factors other than G‑d that influence your livelihood is a form of idolatry!"The extra hour of work at the expense of Torah study, prayer, family, health, etc., will not make a difference to G‑d's master plan. If anything, they can only ruin!

If you have this attitude, then the whole week will be a holy Sabbath-like existence, where your worries are gone and you have faith that G‑d will supply you with all your needs. When Shabbat then comes, you will have a "Sabbath of Sabbaths"—a double Sabbath, a day even holier than the Shabbat-like week!

This was not a huddle about the Shabbat; it was a lesson about the Dow Jones.