Vayakhel-pekudei

"On six days work may be done, on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord" Exodus 35.2


By Dr Erica Brown, March 15, 2012
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We recognise these words from the very first chapters of Genesis. God spent six days creating heaven and earth, finished the work and then rested. He blessed the Sabbath day, made it holy and asked the rest of us to do the same. We are obliged to create a state of rest in imitation of God as creations in the divine image.

In our verse, the activities used as the building blocks of the world were also used in the building of the Tabernacle. For the Tabernacle to be a holy space, it needed the contributions of an entire community's collective efforts. Yet despite its sacred creation, we are still obligated to stop and take a break from its construction to appreciate and enjoy that which God and we create.

So much emphasis is placed on rest that we may ignore the clear mandate to work for six days. God did not take a long weekend. On six days work may be done or work must be done, the verse says. Just as we imitate God through rest, we imitate God when we engage in purposeful work the rest of the week so that the respite from it is meaningful.

Work, within this perspective, is a spiritual act. It is a creative act. It engages all of our faculties. Like God who speaks, acts and evaluates in creation, so should we do the same with that which we create six days of the week. We must be intentional, results-driven and reflective about what we produce. Within this framework, what we do six days of the week must be meaningful and an expression of the divine.

    Last updated: 11:55am, March 15 2012