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Rabbi's Shabbat Message

One of the greatest challenges that face Judaism is not that it is too old a faith and behind the times, but rather that in many ways it has been ahead of the times.

The Kiddush ceremony at our Shabbat table is a perfect example. As we lift the Kiddush cup we recite the Biblical command "Six days shall you labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is Shabbat to G-d; you shall not do any work, you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, or your cattle"(Exodus 20:9).

It emphasizes how on Shabbat everyone is free from human masters and this freedom applies to servants and even to animals.

Did you know that in the United States, as recently as the late 1800s, employees in the steel mills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were expected to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week, 363 days a year --they were off on X-mas and 4th of July (America’s Day of Independence). Yet over three thousand years ago, the Ten Commandments forbade treating animals in the manner that human beings were permitted to be treated just a century ago.

Today, the battle against slavery has been won - in most parts of the world. These days, we don’t know many who literally labour under a cruel taskmaster with a whip who orders them to work.

But the modern world still doesn't fully realise that we ourselves can be our own cruelest taskmasters. We are capable of driving ourselves in a manner that no one else could.

A highly-paid executive who feels that he can't take a day off to sing, play, or study with his son or daughter is a slave. He may own two homes, three cars, four horses, and an impressive portfolio on the ASX, but if he doesn't own his own time, he is a slave!

As we lift our Kiddush cup we say: on Shabbat I am a free person and nothing interferes with this tranquility of my mind and soul. Shabbat is a guardian protecting us from the cruel taskmaster - both physical and self-imposed.

Shabbat lifts us out of the slavery of six days to be truly free, so let’s utilise and tap in to this great gift.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Levi and Chanie