This week's Torah reading, Emor, contains the following command pertaining to the Shabbat: "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Shabbat of rest... you shall do no manner of work" (Leviticus 23:3.)

How meaningful are even the most simply worded of G‑d's commands! In fact, there is significance even in the sequence and order of the Torah's words concerning the Shabbat day. First the Torah commands us to work for six days and then we are commanded to rest on the seventh.

The calendar week begins on Sunday. Prevalent custom has designated this first day as a day of rest with the working week following. The Torah, however, sets the working week first, to be followed by the day of rest, the holy Shabbat. "Six days shall work be done" and only then "the seventh day is a Shabbat of solemn rest" — the exact reverse of general practice. The precedence of labor before rest indicates that the purpose of man on earth is not to while away his time indolently, but to work for his spiritual as well as his own material welfare and for that of his community.

Immediately following the creation of Adam, the Torah states: "And the L-rd G‑d took Adam, and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and guard it" (Genesis 2:15). The meaning of the verse is as follows: it is G‑d's will that man work to develop within himself the spiritual qualities with which he had been endowed by G‑d. In this way man can become an active partner with G‑d in the development and revelation of his own and the world's innate good qualities. Having informed us that our purpose in the world is to "work it and guard it," G‑d gave us the Torah (derived from the Hebrew word hora'a --"teaching") to teach us how we are to "work" and "guard" the world.

With the Torah as our guide we are able to fulfill our task and bring fulfillment to ourselves and to the world around us.1