‘All Your Work’
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. —Deuteronomy 5:13-14
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Va’etchanan, which means “I pleaded,” from Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11.
As a mother of four, a wife, and the President and CEO of one of the largest nonprofits in Israel today, my life is extremely hectic. The days are long, and my to-do list is never-ending. Yet, once a week, at sundown on Friday when my daughters and I light the Sabbath candles and usher in Shabbat, my work is done. I stop whatever it is I’m working on, put it aside, and allow God to take over.
In this week’s reading, we are reminded of the Ten Commandments. The Fourth Commandment requires us to observe the Sabbath. What that means for each individual varies. For an Orthodox Jew, it means refraining from many weekday things, such as using a phone or a computer, and engaging in activities that revolve around worship and family every Saturday. For a Christian it may mean taking a day to rest and going to church every Sunday. However, observance of the Sabbath has another meaning as well — one that goes beyond Saturday and Sunday and into every day of our lives.
When teaching us about the Sabbath, the Bible says: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath...” Now, who among us can “do all your work” by Friday? Scripture seems to be telling us to finish up by Friday so that we can rest on the Sabbath. But if you are like me, chances are that when you close up for the weekend, you leave behind an overflowing inbox and much unfinished business. These days, it seems that work never ends!
And that’s exactly the point. Our work may not be finished on Friday, but our part in the work is. The Sabbath is a metaphor for all of our work in life. We put in our best efforts and do our part. But at some point, we must stop and let God take over.
The Sabbath is a concept meant to be incorporated into everything we do, every day of our lives. We do our best, and let God do the rest. We need to be acutely aware of who the real Creator is. While we may contribute to the world, it is ultimately God who is responsible for every success and each failure. So, let go of working overtime — and let God take over every time!
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