Six days you shall labor and do all your work and the seventh day is a sabbath to YHWH your God; you shall not do any work . . . Exodus 20:9-10
Six Days – Religion that takes away the Sabbath leaves us “with a life of weekdays.” Doesn’t that sound appealing? One day just like the next, forever – until you die. That’s what we want, isn’t it? A life of continual work. Kauffman, a non-believer, recognizes that life without Shabbat is a flat two-dimensional existence devoid of beauty and rejoicing. No wonder Americans take more vacations than any other civilization. They are work-weary. They have removed Shabbat from life.
Six days – sheshet yamim – you shall labor. Why is that so hard to comprehend and apply? The Christian Church did nothing to relieve Man of a life of weekdays. It is responsible for this problem. With creeds that required denying Shabbath, the Church foisted upon the world one of life’s greatest tragedies – no rest for the wicked, or for the righteous. Once the law of God was stripped from the culture, it was only a matter of time before the culture’s religion reflected the culture’s true foundation. Man is the measure of all things. I will simply practice Sabbath in my own way on my own day. I’ll take an hour off for church. I’ll go to the annual retreat (unless I have to work). I’ll fit in some relaxation sometime – but not now. Now I am too busy with being a weekday warrior.
Burn, baby, burn! Burn up your life as quickly as you can. Burn the candle from both ends. Drink another cup of coffee and keep going. What’s the point of stopping? If I stop I will have to confront the futility of my life, the endless emptiness of “more is less” accomplishments. If I stop I might discover that I no longer know how to rest, how to rejoice, how to be still before my God. I am addicted to the pace. I am a “doer.” The idea of being still frightens me. Maybe that’s why a moment of silence in church is always accompanied by musical background. Silence is terribly traumatic for weekday addicts. Try silencing your mind and you will see.
Most Christians have no idea how to enter into the Sabbath. They have grown up on weekday mania. They were breast-fed from the city that never sleeps. Because the Church teaches nothing about God’s rest, believers are often so confused that they opt for whatever the priests suggest. It is better to tithe than to rest, right?
“Return to the covenant” is the word picture of Shabbat. Shuv + Tau. Return (shuv) has an additional picture – “destroy the house,” that is, “leave nothing behind.” Don’t carry over days 1 to 6 into the rest of day 7. Leave it behind. Return to the covenant empty-handed. Let God provide.
If we are going to stand up against the culture of accumulation, we must empty ourselves for this seventh day celebration. We must put aside the pace. We must return to our source, our deliverer, the one who rescues us from self-destruction, the one who puts life into living. Or maybe you’d rather be exhausted all the time. You might be used to that.
Topical Index: Sabbath, six days, sheshet yamim, Exodus 20:9
 Walter Kauffman, in the introduction to Martin Buber, I and Thou, p. 30.