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Updated: 2008.08.06

Shab•ât Collage

Shab•ât; cessation, settling-down, pl. (Shab•ât•ot), from (shâ•vat; to cease), which probably derives ultimately from (yâ•shav; to settle); the latter being related to the cognate (to•shâv; settler).

(Shab•ât•on), synonymous with (see Shᵊm•ot 16.23 and 31.15), is an absolute cessation-day (lit. cessation cessation-day, the doublet implying utterly or absolute—see also Artscroll Vayikra 3b.403). While some argue that Shab•ât•on is more lax than a regular Shab•ât, that it is appended to Shab•ât forming a doublet suggests the opposite, that it's to be understood as more restrictive.

Even many Orthodox Jews don't realize that keeping Shab•ât is the third-highest priority mi•tzᵊw•âh; behind only "You shall love your as yourself" (wa-Yi•qᵊr•â 19.18) and pi•quakh nëphësh—even above Yom ha-Ki•pur•im.

But is Today's 1st and 7th Day the Biblical 1st and 7th Day?

Non-Jewish miso-Judaic scholars, those who dismiss Hebrew and Judaic sources as non-authoritative and rely solely on idolatrous sources – as if they are somehow more reliable Roll eyes, trace marking the seventh day to Babylonian idolater-astrologers ca. B.C.E. 700. These early astronomers saw only 7 moving planets with their naked eyes, which they thought were gods. Therefore, they assigned one day to each for a total of 7.The Hellenist Greeks and Romans followed suit, naming the days after the respective god (see yom).

There is no record of any people losing complete track, unable to count seven days. If there had been such a break in counting, we can safely expect that the resulting controversy, over the most important thing in the world (properly honoring and pleasing their gods) would have stirred up such a controversy or civil war that there would be record of it. No such controversy has ever erupted among any people. They have all been able to count off seven days without interruption or losing national count.

Thus, the count goes back to the earliest record and the question reduces to what is the earliest record – for Yi•sᵊr•â•eil.

However, the seventh day Sha•bât dates back before Mosh•ëh, ca. B.C.E. 1500, to bᵊ-Reish•it 2.2-3. Thus, Biblical tradition, written preceded by ages of Oral tradition, traces this uninterrupted 7-day count back, past Av•râ•hâm (ca. B.C.E. 2187), to the dawn of recorded history. The seventh day that Yi•sᵊr•â•eil observes today is the same seventh day described in bᵊ-Reish•it 2.2-3.

Keeping Sha•bât

Ribi Yᵊho•shua taught that one can only learn how to keep Tor•âh by learning to keep Tor•âh as the Pᵊrush•im teach:

"Then [Ribi] Yᵊho•shua spoke to the Qᵊhil•ot and to his tal•mid•im saying, ''The So•phᵊr•im and those of the Rabbinic-Pᵊrush•im [who advocate that Ha•lâkh•âh must be exclusively oral] sit upon the bench [i.e., the Beit-Din] of Moshëh. So now, keep sho•meir and do concerning everything—as much as they shall tell you! Just don't imitate their Ma•as•ëh because they say but they don't do." (The Nᵊtzârim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matitᵊyâhu (NHM, in English) 23.1-3).

In the intervening centuries since, however, the modern successors of the Pᵊrush•im, Orthodox Jews, have introduced an innovation—which, despite the good intention, is prohibited by Tor•âh (Dᵊvâr•im 13.1, inter alia)—to impose a Hav•dâl•âh between Judaism and Christianity, falsely redefining the phrase Bᵊn•ei-Noakh and falsely teaching that non-Jews are prohibited from keeping Shab•ât like Jews.

Today, one must filter out intervening rabbinic innovations (which are strayings). Tor•âh explicitly declares that there is only one Tor•âh, applying the same to Yᵊhud•im and geir•im (bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbar 15.16, 29), one khuq•âh (bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbar 9.14; 15.14-15) and one mi•shᵊpât (wa-Yi•qᵊr•â 24.22; bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbar 15.16). Therefore, one can only follow the teaching of Ribi Yᵊho•shua by learning what Orthodox Jews teach that Orthodox Jews must keep concerning Shab•ât, filtering out any intervening rabbinic strayings.

Accordingly, the fundamentals can only be learned from an Orthodox rabbi who will teach you how Orthodox Jews keep Shab•ât (which, if you are a non-Jew, they won't teach you, since they believe non-Jews must keep it differently) or from our Khav•rutâ distance course (link in the Foreign Ministry of our website). Some of the basics include:

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