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The children of Israel shall keep Shabbat, keeping Shabbat throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever. For in six days Adonai made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day God rested from work and was refreshed.

During the evening service on Shabbat and festivals, immediately after The Reading of the Shema and its Accompanying Blessings, we recite a Biblical passage that announces the special occasion for which we are gathered.

On the three pilgrimage festivals (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot), that passage is taken from Leviticus 23:14 “Moses declared unto the children of Israel the appointed festivals of the Lord.” On Rosh Hashanah, it comes from Psalm 81:4 “Blow the horn at the new moon, at the full moon for our feast-day.” On Yom Kippur, the passage comes from Leviticus 16:30 “For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall ye be clean before the Lord.”

And here, on Shabbat, our Biblical passage of announcement is Veshameru, Exodus 31:16-17.

How can God be “refreshed”? God never gets tired! However, says Rashi,{Shlomo Yitzhaki (1040 –1105) is known by the acronym Rashi (רש"י‎, רבי שלמה יצחקי, RAbbi SHlomo Itzhaki). He was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible).} the Torah speaks in the language of human beings. It is not God, but rather we human beings who need a day to refresh ourselves after six days of labor.

Other commentators point out that the word “refreshed” is a translation of the Hebrew va-yi-nafash וַינָפַש from the root n f sh (“soul”). After the six days of physical creation, God found it necessary to give the world a soul by creating Shabbat.

We are reminded of God’s creation of humankind in Genesis 2:7: “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”—
ויהי האדם לנפש חיה va-yehi ha-adam l’nefesh chaya.

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