Several weeks ago, I was asked why it is necessary to observe Shabbat on Saturday. Suppose I was feeling particularly restful and holy on Tuesday, is there anything wrong with observing Shabbat on Tuesday? Can’t a vast and loving G-d tolerate a Jew that prefers to rest on Tuesday?
I posted this question on Facebook and received a number of interesting comments. Some said Shabbat is a communal, not individual celebration. Some said I should rest both days. Others compared it to coming late to a wedding or forgetting an anniversary. Fascinating comments and here are my thoughts.
An infinitely vast and loving G-d doesn’t need to care about whether I observe Shabbat on Saturday or Tuesday, but He chose to care. We all want a relationship with G-d. The problem is that He is infinite heavenly, ethereal and perfect and we are not. How can we relate to Him? We can’t understand Him and you can’t love what you don’t understand.
Yet, G-d is also omnipotent and capable of bridging the unbridgeable. He chose to make Himself available to us, to be found in our small, petty, confined and meticulous world. He lowered Himself to us and made Himself available on our level. “And G-d descended unto Mount Sinai.”
G-d chose a number of meeting places and said, come to the following spot on the following day and perform the following task and when you do, you will find me there. Of course, we can go to a different spot on a different day and perform a different task, but we won’t find G-d there.
This is because G-d chose to descend to us and operate by our rules. Our world is structured and orderly, it operates by a set of rules. Despite G-d’s transcendence, He chose to operate by the rules. He doesn’t need to. He is larger than them. But in our world, He functions as we do. By the rules.
When we meet Him on His terms, He comes to the meeting and embraces us. Indeed, we cannot feel His embrace because He didn’t raise us to His level, but He is with us, on our level, where we don’t see or understand Him. He eases His infinite expanse into a finite action performed in a finite space in a finite timeframe because He loves us. The Talmud says that love contracts the flesh. When there is room in the heart, there is room on the hearth. When we love, we find space even where there is none to find.