Copy Right 2022
Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
The Sabbath for Noahides
Let’s pause from our discussion of IDOLATRY and ask
Should Noahide observe the Sabbath?
The prophet Isaiah says:
“And it shall be that, every new Moon to new Moon,
and every Sabbath to Sabbath
all flesh shall come to bow before me said YHVH,” (Isaiah 66: 24)
Hence, all nations are expected to observe the Sabbath.
The question is how?
It should also be noted that the negative statements in the Talmud
against gentiles’ observance of the Sabbath, pertain to idol worshippersת
NOT to people who believe in HaSheM and the Torah.
On the other hand, little information is given in the Talmud
regarding how should Noahides observe the Sabbath.
The reason for that void is historical. For during the last 2000 y,
Noahides could not exist under Christianity or Islam.
Neither Sunday nor Friday
Apparently, those who claim to have replaced or superseded Israel,
have been deflected – as if by a guarding angel – from the Sabbath day
to either Sunday or Friday, thereby losing the Sabbath’s special meaning.
As if by a miracle, the Sabbath has been preserved only by Israel
and by those who follow the Torah.
“More than Israel has preserved the Sabbath,
has the Sabbath preserved Israel” – says the Midrash, correctly.
So today, as we witness the growth of gentiles returning to HaSheM,
it has become incumbent on us to find the proper way for all Mankind
to observe the Sabbath.
In the following presentation I’ll describe the main themes of the Sabbath
as observed by Israel.
It is up to Noahides to consider those themes and build your customs
and practices as it might suit you.
The Three Aspects of the Sabbath
The Torah’s Sabbath not as a mere “weekend” for fun.
According to the Torah, it is a day of rest, yet dedicated
to spiritual growth and blessing
The Torah bases the Sabbath on three foundations:
- The story of Genesis.
- The Exodus from Egypt.
- The Building of the Tent of the Meeting.
The sources in the Torah for those three foundations are as follows:
- The Sabbath of Genesis
The fourth of Sinai’s Ten Commandments says:
“Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it
Six days shall you work but the Seventh day
is Sabbath to YHVH your ELKM You shall not do any work,
you, your son, your daughter, your slave your maid, your animals
and the stranger living at your gates.
For in six days YHVH made the Heavens and the Earth,
the sea and all that in there, and He RESTED on the seventh day.
Therefore, YHVH blessed the Seventh day and he sanctified it.” (Exodus 20: 8-11)
Likewise, later in the Book of Exodus it is said:
“The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath,
to make the Sabbath an eternal covenant for their generations
between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever
that in six days period YHVH made Heavens and Earth,
and on the Seventh day He RESTED and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31: 16-17)
In both presentations, the Torah command us to REMEMBER the Sabbath
as ‘she’ – Queen Sabbath – is shown in the story of Genesis.
Interestingly, it does not say that ELKM – the Attribute of Justice –
created the world in six days, but, rather, that YHVH did it!
Moreover, while Genesis says that ELKM “abstained” on the Sabbath
from doing more work, here in Exodus the Torah says that
“YHVH rested and was refreshed.”
What is the reason for those changes? We’ll have to see.
- The Sabbath of the Exodus
The second foundation of the Sabbath is introduced by the Torah
in Deuteronomy, where it says:
“Safeguard the Sabbath day to sanctify it,
As YHVH your ELKM ha commanded you….
In order that your slave and maid may rest like you
and you shall remember that you were a save in Egypt Land
and YHVH your ELKM has taken you out from there
with the strong Hand and outstretched arm.
Therefore, YHVH your ELKM has commanded you
to make the Sabbath day (Deut. 5: 12-15)
Here the Sabbath is presented as a resting day for everyone,
for our entire household, including our animals.
The reason? To remember that we, Israel, were enslaved
in Egypt and then redeemed by YHVH. We should be
sensitive to the plight of the workers: people and animals.
The scholars refer to this aspect of the Sabbath as the “Social Sabbath.”
But as we’ll see, the “Egyptian Sabbath” is far more than “social sensitivity.”
- The Sabbath of the Tabernacle
The third aspect of the Sabbath is given in the context
of building Moses’ Tent of the Meeting.
Thus, on the very day that Moses came down with the Second Tablets,
informing Israel that YHVH had forgiven them for the Golden Calf,
Moses also established that day as Yom Kippur – attornment day –
for generations, and also ordered Israel to build the Tent of Meeting.
Here are his words:
“These are the things that YHVH has commanded you to make them:
On six days, work may be done, but the Seventh day shall be holly to you
a day of complete rest for YHVH.
Whoever does work on it shall be put to death. You shall not kindle
fire on any of your dwelling on the Sabbath day.” (Exodus 35)
Moses, in YHVH’s Name, forbids here to perform on the Sabbath
the same 39 prototypes of works that he would use to build the Tent.
In other words – the Sabbath overrides the work of building the Temple.
How much more so, the Sabbath overrides any other constructive work!
The number 39 actually comes from the Story of the Sabbath in Genesis.
ELKM built the world as a Temple for YHVH.
For those Six Days would be finally filled with YHVH,
when the “end of the Sixth Day” comes.
Thus, in the same way that ELKM abstains from working on the Sabbath,
while building the world as a Temple for YHVH’s Dwelling,
so should we – Israel – abstain our constructive work on our Sabbath,
in particular the works types associated with building our Temple for YHVH.
And since the name ELKM appears 35 times in Genesis Chapter One
(32 in the Six Days, plus 3 times in the section describing the Sabbath)
the number of prototypes of works forbidden on the Sabbath should be 35.
Moses however added 4 more – which deal with separating different types
of food or other items, hence the number 39. (Rabbi Goren ztl)
In conclusion, the Torah bases the Sabbath on three themes:
- The story of the Sabbath in Genesis Chapter One,
- The story of the Exodus, the so called “Social Sabbath of rest,”
- The Sabbath as a holy day, related to the Tent of the Meeting, the Mishkan
We mention those three aspects on Sabbath’s eve
Our Custom is, on every Saturday eve, to recall all these aspects
over cup of wine, in a blessing called “Kidush.”
It is a Rabbinical practice based on the Torah’s commandment to “remember.”
We ‘remember’ the Sabbath not by a silent meditation,
but rather by proclaiming loudly for all to hear, to join and enjoy!
Let’s go over these tree components of the Sabbath and see,
which one might be relevant to Noahi
1: THE SABBATH OF GENESIS
THE FIRST SABBATH MEAL
“Strangely enough,” we begin the Sabbath ‘service’ much earlier than at nightfall,
while there is still Friday’s daylight. We do this to commemorate the
entrance of YHVH into our Sixth Day, as shown in Genesis Chapter One:
And EloKiM made the animals…cattle…and everything creeping
And EloKiM saw that is was good…
And ELoKim said let us make Adam in our form and our image…
And ELoKiM blessed them saying be fruitful and multiply…
And EloKiM said behold, I have given you all the grass…
And ELoHiM saw everything that He had done and behold,
it was VERY GOOD, and it was evening, and it was morning,
Y om (Day)
H a Shishi, (Sixth) (Genesis 1:31)
…………………………the Sabbath ………………………….
V aYechulu (and they ended)
H aShamyim (the Heaves)And the Earth, VeHaaretz, and all their hosts,
And ELoHiM finished all the work he had done,
And ELoHiM finished on the Seventh Day His work which He had done,
And He abstained on the Seventh Day from all His work which He had done
And ELKM blessed the Seventh Day…” (Genesis 2: 1-2)
We are careful to begin the Kidush by reciting “Yom Hashishi,”
then proceeding to recite the entire section of the Sabbath (in blue.)
The text we quote needs close observation.
It shows the transition between the Sixth Day and the Seventh.
It shows clearly how the acronym YHVH penetrates the Sixth Day
rom the Sabbath,
part of it – the YH – lies in the Sixth Day,
the other part – the VH –lies still in the Sabbath.
The name YHVH is like a locomotive of a train
whose carts, the Six Days, are in ELKM’s world.
That “locomotive” should pull or draw up the carts, the entire Six Days,
into the Seventh, the Eternal Sabbath,so that the entire world,
including Adam, would dwell there.
When that happens, our entire Six Days
would be drawn upwards into the Eternal Sabbath Day,
and would be filled by YHVH’s presence, in the open,
while ELKM has “abstained.”
It is as if the entire Six Days are now painted with blue.
Meanwhile, through history, the Y-H part of YHVH,
is connected to us – the carts – by our Sabbath,
which is YHVH’s dwelling in TIME
and through the Tabernacle, where She Dwell in SPACE,
and through our HEARTS, where She aspires to Dwell.
We therefore begin our Sabbath before dark,
while there is still Friday’s light. We do that not only because
“we humans can’t be sure how to delineate the transition
between the Sixth and the Seventh day,” but because of
Genesis Chapter One that shows YHVH and Her Sabbath
penetrating the Six Day, aspiring to draw our whole world
into Her Kingdom, the Eternal Sabbath
Two Types of Sabbaths
We know, as our Sabbath is about to enter, that the ‘real’ Sabbath,
where YHVH reigns alone and in the open, is the Eternal Sabbath to come.
It is a Day beyond our conception. Our Universe is traveling towards Her,
but meanwhile we live in our weekly Sabbath, which is of lower degree of holiness
compared to the sabbath to Come.
Our task is to elevate our Sabbath so that She would finally merge into One,
which is the meaning of the words: “YHVH ELKM, YHVH is One.”
Are Noahides involved?
On Noah it is said:
“Those are the offspring of Noah, Noah was a righteous person…”
The name Noah, which means “rest comfortably,” suggests that
he kept the Sabbath of Genesis, of Adam.
The repetition “Noah, Noah”, says the Midrash, hints to the fact
that Noah was the only person ever who experienced
the two types of sabbath, our weekly Sabbath
and the Eternal Sabbath Day in his ark.
There, in his ark, the wolf did not prey on the sheep
and a boy could play safely over the snake’s pit.
Hence the inside of the ark was ruled by YHVH,
as it is said “And YHVH closed the door for him.”
Noah therefore saw the entire range of history –
The Sabbath of the Beginning, of Genesis,
and the Sabbath to Come.
Hence Noahide ARE definitely involved in that aspect of the Sabbath.
YHVH as a Savior
The Sefat Emeth points out the miracle of YHVH’S entrance
into our natural world (of ELKM).
For without Her advent in the Heavenly Court – side by side with ELKM,
or without the Sabbath in our world – Her Dwelling place in our time,
ELKM would have terminated our world with wrath, khalah,
As we’ve already learned. After all, He had done that to numerous
other worlds before, as Rashi points out.
Because, as we recall, for Six long Days ELKM, the Attribute of JUDGMENT,
created the world “awesomely alone,” in Absolute Justice
that knows no MERCY. His world is full of justice,
where animals eat and are eaten, cause pains and suffer pains,
yet with no compassion, mercy, forgiveness or holiness.
We recall, as our Sabbath day approaches,
that at the end of the Sixth Day of CREATION, when ELKM was planning Adam,
He knew that this new, smart creature, endowed with a Free Choice
and driven by many desires and passions, would certainly fail his trial
and would have to be terminated along with the entire Six Days.
The Shechinah Sustains our World
Deciding to give Adam – and our Universe – a chance to win,
and see the next Day of CREATION, the Eternal Sabbath Day,
the Sabbath Day to Come,
ELKM turned to the Attribute that rules over that Day
and invited Her to come over and participate in SUSTAINGING the world
and CREATING Adam together “In our form and our image.”
Let’s recall that the “Eternal Sabbath” is a Day unlike any other
Day Of CREATION. The Sefat Emeth points out that it is a
Day beyond our human experience and comprehension.
It is a Day when ELKM “ABSTAINS” ” – hold Himself –
from more creating and more judging. Hence it is a Day
with no death but also no birth, no trial and no tribulations,
but also no winning.
And it is a Day completely ruled by YHVH,
whose half Name – the Y-H – assumes here in our world
the function of Attribute of MERCY, COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS.
YET in Her Domain, the Eternal Sabbath, the YHVH carries no such meaning,
since in that Day there is no suffering and no pains, no death and no birth,
no trial and no punishments, therefore no need or meaning
to MERCY, COMPASSION and FORGIVENS
THAT IS WHY WHEN MOSES ASKED YHVH: “SHOW ME YOUR WAYS”
SO YHVH TOLD HIM: YOU CAN SEE MY BACK, BUT NOT MY FRONT.
SINCE WHOEVER SEES MY FRONT WILL DIE.”
Indeed, Moses could see and comprehend YHVH’s BEHIND,
meaning the “back of the locomotive,” the Y-H,
but not the “font,” V-H, which lies in the Eternal Sabbath
beyond our comprehension.
Therefore, Moses immediately said: YHVH, E-l of MERCY etc.
He could comprehend the 13 attributes of MERCY, of Y-H,
but not the futuristic V-H.
In Her Domain, the Eternal Sabbath, YHVH neither creates nor judges.
There, She “rests” all the Day, radiating “holiness” and “joy.”
I tis only here, in ELKM’s world, that YHVH participates
In sustaining the world, and in rewarding eligible individuals.
And that function is against Her genuine posture.
Therefor as long YHVH is here, She would appreciate – so to speak
a moment of rest, a day of rest, a heart to rest.
In contrast, ELKM never ‘rests.” He ‘abstains.
YHVH consolidated the world
As the Sabbath approaches, while we are still in Friday’s daylight,
we recall that by entering our world, YHVH “established” it
and “consolidated it.”
This is expressed by the Psalm that the Levite Choir used to chant
0n every sixth day of our week:
“YHVH has reigned, He has guarded Himself with grandeur.
YHVH has robed Himself, has girded Himself with strength,
The world has been consolidated (established)
it would not faulter.”
The presence of YHVH here has offered Adam and Earth –
Mercy and Compassion and forgiveness in the Heavenly Court,
and also stabilization to the world, since it has received
direction to move in history, a chance to enter the Sabbath Day.
We Bring Her Up:
YHVH not only entered the Heavenly Court to sit Side by Side with ELKM,
but also to participate in sustaining the world as it says
“On the Day that YHVH ELKM made Earth and Heavens” (Genesis 2: 2)
She is therefore INSIDE every item in our world,
deep behind every atom and molecule, even behind ELKM.
Adam’s task: Orchard of Holy Apples
We recall that Adam’s task is to cling to the Y-H that protrudes
Into our world, so that he would be drawn upwards along with the Six Days.
During the week, says Sefat Emeht, the Shechinah, Y-H,
Is hidden as an acronym under the thick layer of the material world,
and because we are engaged in our livelihood dictated by nature
and ELKM’s’ world.
However, Man can uncover the Shechinah from the “inside of everything,
by performing Mitzvot and doing YHVH’s Merciful work.
By this, we help the Shechinah to come up from the inside
and blossom into our natural world, day by day
so that our week would look like an “orchard of holy apples”
ready to join YHVH.
The metaphor of the holy apples apples comes from
King Solomon’s Song of Sons where it says:
“My beloved mate is like an apple among the tree of the wood.”
Then, once a week, on our weekly Sabbath day, says Sefat Emeth,
the Shechinah disperses all the clouds of the material world,
and shines on us directly, showering on us Her Heavenly Love,
Her blessing and Her Joy with no interference.
At that point, our good actions during the week – the holy apples,
join the Shechinah on the Sabbath’s eve meal,
so that our Sabbath becomes holier.
Hence, when we prepare to enter the Sabbath
being aware that the Shechinah would soon shine over us,
and love us – If She likes us,
what are the things She might be watching in us?
They are all hinted in the text,
In the transition of the Sixth Day to the Sabbath:
We must have elevated ourselves during the week
from good to very good
As shown in the text above, to enter the “Sabbath Day to come,”
Adam has to elevate himself from being “good’ to be “very good’
In the eyes of both Attributes, of YHVH ELKM.
We must have united YHVH with ELKM.
Adam is born by the two Attributes,
One described in the text “behind him” – ELKM (in red)
One in front of him – YHVH, (in blue.)
If he has failed, he has disconnected ELKM from YHVH
and the world would not travel anymore towards the Sabbath.
ELKM would then terminate both Adam and the world with wrath.
Noah practiced Oneness
Adam is expected to unite ELKM with YHVH
In order to advance from the Sixth Day to the Sabbath.
Without Oneness, each Attribute would pull the world to its side,
causing the world to get lost and finally disappear.
You see that in Noah.
Describing the Heavenly Court’s session before the Flood,
The text says:
“And YHVH saw that the evilness of Adam was great on Earth, and
That all the impulses of his heart are evil all day long, and YHVH
Regretted that He had made Adam on Earth, and was
Saddened to His Heart, and YHVH said,
I will wipe out Adam whom I had
Made from the face of the
Earth, both Man and
Cattle to creeping
Things and the
Bird of the air,
For I regret
“ And NOAH found face in the eyes of YHVH
These are the generations of NOAH
NOAH was a complete, righteous man in his generations
with ELoHiM did NOAH walk, NOAH
begot three sons, Shem ham and Yafet
And the Earth corrupted
before ELoKiM, And ELoKiM saw
, the Earth and behold it was corrupt
for all flesh filled with hamas, ad corrupted
its way On Earth. And ELoKiM Said to NOAH
The end of All flesh has come before me, for the Earth
is filled with their hamas, and I shall destroy them with Earth
, and I, MYSELF, shall bring the Flood on Earth to destroy all flesh
in which is breath of life from under the Heavens and everything that is
on Earth shall die
Here is the Heavenly Court in session before the Flood,
where YHVH speaks Her view first (Blue) then ELKM His view second (Red).
The result is two symmetrical wings, each discussing Mankind first then Noah.
You see that whereas both Attributes agree to bring on the Flood,
they also agree to save Noah (the long section in the middle).
Each Attribute supports Noah from its side.
Thus “Noah found face in YHVH’s eyes”
While “Noah was a righteous man, with ELKM did Noah walk.”
Hence, Noah observed YHVH ELKM’s Oneness,
and their Oneness SAVED him.
For you need two Attributes to fly you over mighty waters!
Noah and Naama also implemented Oneness in their marriage.
Noah came from Enosh’s clan who worshipped YHVH,
Naama came from Cain’s clan who worshipped ELKM
together, in their marriage, they implemented YHVH ELKM’s Oneness,
By this they fulfilled the goal of marriage:
As it is said in the Garden of Eden:
‘Therefore, a man would leave his father and mother,
Cleave to his wife so that they would become one flesh.”
The rabbis said: The One refers to YHVH ELKM.
As our Sabbath approaches, we recall that
In order to enter it, Mankind must overcome IDOLATRY.
For we recall that Adam was born into the IDOLATRY trial.
When ELKM planned Adam, He said in plural:
“Let Us Make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image,”
Thereby opening the door for IDOLATRY to exist.
If Adam has failed to overcome the attraction of IDOLATRY,
he would be dragged him down and holds him from
moving forwards into the Sabbath. Overcoming that attraction of IDOLATRY
would allow Adam to see the next Day!
As the Sabbath approaches, we need ALSO to remember G-d’s KINGSHIP
as manipulating Nature to His Will. The Heavenly Court is not only judging
us and nature, it executes its verdicts through nature.
Again, who can show that better than Noah?
Prepare Yourself to Enter the Sabbath
As you see, there is so much material to study
In order to comprehend the Sabbath of Genesis.
But this preparation should be done during the weekdays,
Whereas the Sabbath itself should be devoted to
enjoy peace with our families and rest ourselves from any
We need to LONG for the Sabbath during the weekdays
Not unlike a groom longing to meet his bride.
After all, that is what the verse says about ELKM!
So during the weekdays we perform good deeds, “holy apples”,
then convene half an hour before dark to welcome the Sabbath by Psalm songs
which evolve around the idea that all nations should come and joy,
all nation should come and sing a new song for the Sabbath.
Then we devote our first sabbath meal to recall – in particular,
the Sabbath of Genesis.
Next day, we devote our main meal to the Sabbath of the Exodus,
On which we’ll learn next.