Ohr Hachayim Genesis: Vayechi
“The joy of a spirit is the measure of its power.”
– Ninon de Lenclos (1620 – 1705)
There is a well-known kabalistic belief that on the Sabbath we receive an “additional soul.” Somehow we have an added spiritual component that is supposed to heighten our appreciation and enjoyment of that special weekly day of rest.
Scientifically no one has found a way to measure or test for this extra metaphysical occupation of our bodies. The Ohr Hachayim however believes there is a very simple way to determine the presence of the Sabbath spirit.
Our Patriarch Jacob was renamed by God “Israel.” However, throughout the biblical text there is a dichotomy in regularly alternating uses of both “Jacob” and “Israel.” The Ohr Hachayim (Genesis 47:28) explains that “Israel” is the more ideal, fulfilled name, while “Jacob” is a more anxious or saddened name. When Jacob was affected by his sorrows and concerns he was merely “Jacob.” However, when he was happiest, when he connected fully with God, an additional spirit rested on him – then he was “Israel.”
The Ohr Hachayim says it is the same with the Sabbath spirit. When one prepares for the Sabbath; when one is joyous about the upcoming day of rest; when one is ready to leave material concerns and modern distractions and focus on relationships, on family, on God, on self – then an otherworldly spirit descends upon you and you are filled with light.
If you see someone smiling and content on the Sabbath, it’s a sure bet they have that “additional soul.”
May we understand, prepare and enjoy the Sabbath.
To Ahad Ha’am and his famous quote: “More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.”