Friday, 27 November 2020
Why do you say Shabbat shalom?
Why do we say Shabbat Shalom as our greeting? Is it because it just rolls off the tongue so wonderfully and easily? Well, I have probably said enough times, as have you, to make it seem as if it just rolls off the tongue.
What exactly are we saying when we say Shabbat Shalom? It may benefit us to take a quick look at what it means for us spiritually when we say something as simple and as common as Shabbat Shalom.
There are multiple meanings for this term. In six days God created the heavens and the earth. On the seventh day, he rested and we celebrate this rest as a "sign a forever between me and the people of Israel ..." (Exodus 31:17). We keep it as reverence (Leviticus 26:2). We keep it as reminder to us that the Sabbath was made for man ... (Mark 2:27) We both observe and guard the Sabbath. By keeping it, we remember that there is still a rest we "strive to enter" (Hebrews 4:11).
The term Sabbath is meant to evoke all of the above in us.
So, the term is like saying, rest peace, or peaceful rest, or something like that---which is what many people often mean when they say it.
But, what about in terms of identity in Yeshua? One of the reasons, we celebrate "a day of rest" is directly connected to our creation in terms of our role in creation. That is ... first ... it was man who was made in God's image and second man was made to glorify God through work by taking care of his creation and to populate that creation. Thus, in part, Shabbat reminds us that our value is first a result of being made in the image of God as part of God's creation. And, second we have work.
We often value people because of who they are---based on what they can do. This is an identity we superimpose on others and ourselves. Sabbath reminds us that we are to value (as the fulfillment of the Torah) people as a result of God's value. Not because of what they can do for us. Don't say we don't do that because we even do it with Yeshua himself.
Our identity then, which is to be based in Yeshua is meant to be reflected in our understanding of being made in God's image as his creation. Another meaning for Shalom is belonging. Too much time to explain the ins and outs of this. But, for now ... let's say that this is true. So then we have "identity" or value as the image of God and belonging or being a part of something.
So, saying Shabbat Shalom is a short way to reaffirm one another's identity statement. "You belong to God and to God's community. You belong, not because of what you can do for others or because what you can do for God. You belong to God because you were made in God's image and you are valued by God and valued by community. You were created to be in relationship with God and with community. Therefore, you have an obligation to God and you have an obligation to community. God created you to be part of creation and to glorify him by caring for his creation. God has blessed you by giving you a day to remember these things and to be reminded of these things. And so, on this day you rest because you rest and while you rest you reaffirm your identity in Yeshua because in he was in the beginning."
You may also choose to say, "You belong" which is even shorter than Shabbat Shalom.
The statement above is of course only partial and it has many implications and would take much more time than we have here to explain more fully and in theological depth. However, the takeaway is this: When you say "Shabbat Shalom" are you just repeating a friendly greeting? Or, are you reaffirming someone's full identity in Yeshua by blessing them and thus fulfilling the Torah?
Daniel and Berelyn,