The Ten Principles for America
The Fourth Commandment
“Remember the Sabbath day and sanctify it”. “Six days shall you work and accomplish all of your work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath to God your Lord; you shall not do any work - you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maid servant, your animal, your convert within your gates – for in six days God made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that it is them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, God lest the Sabbath day and sanctified it”.
In this series of the Ten Commandments we are dealing now with a very unique commandment (principle). The first three commandments requested of mankind the acceptance of God, forbid man to worship other gods, and forbid man not to show Him disrespect by taking His Name in vain. The fourth commandment calls on man to remember that He is the Creator, by observing the Sabbath and making this day a constant reminder that God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh. It is therefore the observance of the Sabbath that bares testimony to this concept and the commandments to do so follow naturally after the first three. This commandment is composed of two complimentary concepts; Remember and observe. None of which are truly “command” words, rather infinitive verbs.
The Sabbath was given to mankind as an instrument through which man can come closer to a better understanding of the spiritual essence of God’s creation and their own potential, development and growth. It is six days a week that man is forced to labor with physical and economical necessities, but on the seventh day man can, and should devote himself to the study of spiritualism and servicing of the Creator. Men should seek out other men who are great in these fields so that man can learn from others and perfect their development. This is the essence behind the sanctification of the Sabbath.
The principle of the Sabbath includes not only deeds, but attitudes as well. When the Sabbath arrives after six days of labor, one must feel that all of his tasks and hard work are finished, even though in reality work does not come to an end; the Sabbath creates the break. This means that no matter what is left to be done one should feel as much at ease as they would if everything was complete. This is a natural feeling if one absorbs the lesson of the Sabbath that God is the Creator. Just as God created the universe, and provides for all of its creatures, so He will surely provide for those who obey his commandments.
“And sanctified it”. The Sages refer to this blessing and sanctification as the capacity of the individual to absorb more wisdom and insight on the Sabbath then on any other day. The Sabbath is blessed in that it is the source of blessing for the rest of the week, and it is sanctified because it throws its holiness from the highest spiritual sphere.
In my previous essay dealing with the third commandment “Do not take the Name of God in vain” we made a comparison between the first five commandments that relate to issues between God and man, and the other five relate to men’s behaviors and attitudes. Here in the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath”, we can draw a parallel with the eighth commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your fellow”. Do not bear false witness means, do not destroy your fellow reputation in false witness. This truth is the base of all moral laws, as well as the base of all civil laws. Respect the reputation of other men is the foundation of civilization. The connection between the fourth commandment and the eighth commandment is obvious; when God is telling us to keep the Sabbath and sanctify it, what we as men are being told to do is in essence, respect God and Gods creation. God put his design on everything that He created and giving Him respect is unquestionable, which is to keep Sabbath as he did. Giving respect to God by keeping Sabbath equates with giving respect to other men – God’s creations, by not bearing false witness against them, both are simply keeping reputations; of God and of Gods creation.