When we walked down to the bus this morning to head out for the day, one thing was immanently noticeable... quiet. We walked by the streets from which we have become accustomed to hearing constant traffic noise but today it was undeniably calm. It was obvious that today was the shabbat (the sabbath). On Saturday, starting on Friday evening, all the Jews of the city take it easy. It is a day of rest; rest from work, rest from strain, and rest from travel. As we traveled around all the streets had considerably less traffic on them than normal. On the sabbath, the city slows down. Can you imagine that in L.A. or San Diego or wherever in the US? It was heavenly... in fact it's accurate to say that.
In the U.S. most people have it backwards. The way we see it, we rest for rejuvenation in order to do more work. Rest is for the purpose of work, as though we were created for work and for production. Here in Israel I believe it's understood differently. We work in order to rest. We do all our work in six days so that on the seventh day we can enjoy being us, we can enjoy simple existence and life through the breath of God. Work is for the purpose of rest, for it is rest for which we were created. Thus sabbath rest may just be as close to heaven as we can get for now. Only in sabbath rest can we experience the life for which the dust of the earth became a living being. Our work in the world is about bringing heaven to earth and heaven is closest in sabbath rest. We work for the purpose of heaven, our work is for the purpose of heaven.