Everyone appreciates getting a gift, whether it is a surprise or something we were hoping to receive as a present. It’s written in the Gemara in Shabbos that if you send someone a gift you must tell them how much it is worth so that he or she can value and take care of it accordingly. A gift is usually something of value, but even when it is a small thing, such as a bouquet of flowers or a box of candy, we happily accept it although it won’t last very long.
Usually, the larger the amount spent on whatever it is we receive, the greater our appreciation for the gift and the person giving it. If it is something of great value that can be passed on to the next generation, we will take great care of that gift. For me, that includes a menorah my great-grandfather used and the candelabra my grandmother used (in which I proudly light candles every week), or it could be a holy book that was written by an ancestor and which sheds light and wisdom for all generations to come.
All these gifts have value that help us appreciate and take care of whatever has been given to us. If we were to neglect or disregard such a gift, that would be a great insult and disrespect to whoever gave us the present. The greater the value, the greater the insult.
When the Almighty gave the Jewish people the holy Shabbat, it is written that He said, “I have a precious gift hidden away and its name is Shabbat.” The master of the world, G-d Himself, told us that He was giving us something that He had saved in a special place. How careful we should be protecting and caring for this gift!
All the holidays come and go, but this special gift never leaves us. The holy Shabbat doesn’t appear only once a month or once a year – it arrives every single week. No matter what kind of week we had, no matter what events took place during the past week, Shabbat always brings its soothing and healing qualities that give us strength and courage and hope to go on, no matter what is going on in our lives.
Shabbat is the reset of the whole week that passed, and the recharge for the next week. It’s a time that we stop all the hustle and bustle and connect to Hashem. No computers, no phones, no meetings, and no urgent activities. More than we keep the Shabbat, our Sages taught, the Shabbat keeps us.
This wonderful gift that was given to the Jewish nation is a gift of continuity. It’s a gift of life not just for us, but for all the generations ahead of us. It was cherished and kept since the beginning of time, and now it keeps us going, no matter where we live in the world. We are also all waiting for the time when the great Shabbat will come in the days of the final redemption, as it is written, “a day that is all Shabbat and rest for eternity.”
Parties and special events are always a great joy and something to look forward to. However, when all the lights and glimmer settle down after a grand event, we are left with the here and now, the mundane, the ordinary, and our daily schedules. How lucky we are that Hashem gave us the gift of Shabbat so that we never get run down. We always have a chance to stop, reflect, enjoy, and elevate ourselves to a better place. We always have that opportunity to look around and make sure we are not missing our purpose in life.
Shabbat is the gift of life for us and all the generations to come. Shabbat keeps our nation united and strong. Let’s keep this precious gift and make sure we appreciate it since we are its greatest beneficiaries.