There is a weekly wedding which takes place each and every Shabbos --the marriage of the Jewish people and the Shabbos Queen. But in this wedding we don't merely attend the ceremony as honored guests; we are at the center of the celebration. We are the groom and Shabbos is the bride.
The first source in the Torah where this concept is found is a Midrash: Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai said: Shabbos came before the Master of the World and complained, ‘Each day of the week has a mate. Sunday has Monday, Tuesday has Wednesday, Thursday has Friday. But I have no mate!' God replied, ‘The Jewish nation will be your mate!' (Beraishis Rabbah 11:8)
What exactly does this mean? How are Sunday and Monday ‘mates'? In what way are they ‘married'? And how are Jews wedded to Shabbos? How do you marry a day?
TODAY AND TOMORROW
Let us suggest an explanation. What gives any day value? A today can only have value if there is a tomorrow. I build, I work, I accomplish something in the material world because I want the building, the contract, or the result to help me tomorrow. I make a living because I want to be able to pay my bills tomorrow. If there was no tomorrow, then I would not be driven to have a today full of material work and achievement. I would have no drive to accomplish anything today. I would most likely spend my today much differently, readying myself for the end of my existence in this world.
Because there is a Monday, then Sunday is utilized for what it was created for. People are motivated to work in order to make the world progress. And so it is for the rest of the week.
But Shabbos complained to God, "I don't have a mate. There is no eighth day. There is no tomorrow. Tomorrow, Sunday, starts the new week and is already partnered with Monday. What then is my value as a today if I have no tomorrow? What's more, I couldn't have a purpose even if I had a partner, a tomorrow, because creative physical accomplishment is not permitted on Shabbos. One can't build or work on Shabbos, so there's no purpose for me to have a tomorrow, a mate."
The Master of the World answers, "The Jewish people is your mate! You must understand that Shabbos is not like the rest of the week. Sunday through Friday are days of physical accomplishment, for this world. But Shabbos is a microcosm of the Next World, a day from a completely spiritual realm. You do have a purpose -- you have the ultimate purpose. You are designed for total spirituality. The Jewish nation will utilize you as a day of spiritual ascension, a day of coming closer to Me through more time devoted to prayer, Torah study, and family. They will find in you an ability to regain their bearings as to what they should be striving for in this world. Each and every Jew, not a mundane physical workday of tomorrow, gives you value and purpose. The Jewish nation is your mate!"
Webster's dictionary renders the word ‘marry' to mean ‘to unite or join closely.' Jews are married to Shabbos.
Some people claim to be married to their jobs. They think about work all the time. Some people will say they are married to their favorite sports team.
The Jew should think about Shabbos. Shabbos is our dedicated spouse and we are dedicated to Shabbos.
Excerpted from Shabbos In My Soul: 70 Powerful Lessons to Illuminate the Shabbos Experience. Click here to order.