The Sabbath: Touchstone of Spiritual Reality?

20140127-155430.jpgBy Leif L.

Every religion claims to offer a unique point of access to the spiritual realm. There is an essential belief or practice that they considered to be the place of intersection between God and man; a sacred interface by which humanity can access divinity. It contains the thought of the Supreme Being’s revelation to mankind, and where these two parties are brought into close communion: what I will refer to as a touchstone of spiritual reality.

“Touchstone” Series:

1. The Sabbath: Touchstone of Spiritual Reality?
2. The Sabbath and the Touchstone of Christianity
3. The Spiritual Touchstone of Adventism
4. The Spiritual Touchstone of Sabbatarianism
5. The Sabbath: Touchstone Fulfilled

Spiritual Touchstones

touchstone: (Merriam-Webster)

  • a fundamental or quintessential part or feature
  • a test or criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of a thing

The word “touchstone” basically conveys the idea of an essential feature which attests to the authenticity and genuineness of something.

Touchstone of the Jewish Faith

All this highlights one point: The Sabbath is the most important institution of Judaism. It is the primary ritual, the very touchstone of our faith.
Not only is the Sabbath the only ritual appearing in the Ten Commandments, but it is also repeated more often in the Torah than any other commandment. (Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Why The Sabbath, emphasis theirs)

In Judaism, this point of access to God is contained in and symbolized by the Sabbath: it represents the very interface between the Jew and their God. As such, it is indispensable, and of paramount importance – the “very touchstone” of the Jewish faith.

Hashem (God) gave the Jewish people the special day of Shabbat in the desert of Marah a few weeks before the Sinai revelation…
Shabbat is a Jewish holiday that symbolizes the connection of Jews with Hashem. Hashem gave the Shabbat as a Jewish rest day in resemblance of day seven’ Hashems rest day of world creation. Orthodox Jews believe that Hashem created the world in six days and rested on Shabbat. Shabbat is called the “bond – brit” between Hashem and the Jews. (Quoted from Shabbat Observance)

The Sabbath is the emblem of how the Jewish people draw near to God. It symbolizes their connection with Him.

Not only that, but to the Jew, the Sabbath is the primary defining point of the God that they worship.

Examination

The quotes above reinforce some of the points made in previous parts of this study about the Sabbath:

These quotes also point out that:

  • God’s rest at creation provides the pattern for Sabbath observance
  • The Sabbath was instituted at the time of the exodus of Israel from their bondage in Egypt (therefore creation is not the “genesis” of the command to keep it as a weekly ritual)
  • It symbolizes not only the connection, but is also the bond between God and Israel
  • It is the touchstone of the Jewish faith

The Sabbath is an essential part of Judaism, and the most important sign of Israel’s loyalty to God and the covenant He made with them through Moses. Obedience to the Sabbath commandment is the sign of the authenticity of the Jewish faith (Exodus 31:12-17).

Our next post examines the Christian touchstone of spiritual reality.

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