75 words for 75 years of Israel – Shabbat/Sabbath

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!

Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!





“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8) 

זכור את יום השבת לקדשו.

“Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you sit at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)

ושננתם לבניך ודברת בם בשבתך בביתך ובלכתך בדרך ובשכבך ובקומך. 

Shabbat, Hebrew for “Sabbath,” derives from the Hebrew word lishbot, “to rest.” It is the name given to the seventh day of creation, when God rested after creating the world in six days. At Mount Sinai, God commanded the Israelites to rest on this day as well. 

The word Shabbat is also related to the Hebrew word la’shevet, meaning “to sit” or “to dwell.” The act of settling the land of Israel is called yishuv ha’aretz, and communities in the land of Israel are often called yishuvim, literally “dwellings.” Along the same lines, a school for Bible study is called a yeshiva in Hebrew, because students and scholars sit around tables, probing and exploring the wisdom of God found in the Bible and other sacred texts.

Shabbat is also connected to the Hebrew word la’shuv, “to return,” a word often used to connote repentance and returning to God, as it says in the Book of Lamentations, “Return us, God, to You, and let us come back; renew our days as of old!” (Lamentations 5:21). Shabbat is not only a day of physical rest but is also a day of returning to our true spiritual selves and realigning our lives with God’s will. Our physical rest on Shabbat creates the time and space to contemplate, study and bask in the joy of God’s presence.

The sages refer to Shabbat as a great gift from God. In our generation, this gift is perhaps more precious than ever before. Shabbat offers us a respite from our culture’s obsession with productivity and from the overwhelming and constant presence of technology. A day of freedom from all mundane concerns, Shabbat is a weekly opportunity to reconnect with God, our loved ones, and the things that truly matter.

The Israel Bible Team


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