Part One

 

 

 Then Yahshua spoke to the crowd and to His disciples,
 saying, The scribes and the Pharisees have sat down on Moses' seat.
 Then all things, whatever they tell you to keep, keep and do. But do not do according to their works, for they say, and do not do.  Matthew 23:1-3

 

Hypocrisy is apparent in many of the religions of our time.  The do as I say without question arises among many of the so-called leaders of various denominations.  This is especially sad when it is found in people using the Sacred Names of Yahweh and Yahshua the Messiah.  More attention is paid to individuals using these names than the common names of X-tianity and of the non name (Hashem) use in Judaism.

 

 "Nevertheless, [the] foundation of Yahweh has stood firm, having this seal [fig., inscription], "The Master knew the ones being His," and "Let every one naming the name of [the] Messiah depart from unrighteousness." [cp. Numbers 16:5 (LXX); Nahum 1:7]  2 Timothy 2:19

 

  Many Sabbath keeping groups do not actually observe the Sabbath correctly.  Confusion as to starting times, and what you are actually supposed to do on the Sabbath day leave exterior observers confused.  If you begin the Sabbath at mid-night Friday, is this correct?  Or does Sabbath begin at sundown Friday evening?  What does Torah teach?

 

Shabbat ("rest" in Hebrew, or Shabbos in Ashkenazic pronunciation), is the weekly day of rest in Judaism. It is observed, from sundown on Friday until nightfall on Saturday, by many Jewish people with varying degrees of involvement in Judaism. It is the source for the English term Sabbath, and concepts such as Sabbatical.

Etymology
The Hebrew word shabbat comes from the Hebrew verb shabat, which literally means "to cease", or shev which means "sit". Although Shabbat or its anglicized version Sabbath is almost universally translated as "rest" or a "period of rest", a more literal translation would be "ceasing", with the implication of "ceasing from work". Thus, Shabbat is the day of ceasing from work.

 

H7676
שׁבּת
shabbâth
shab-bawth'
Intensive from H7673; intermission, that is, (specifically) the Sabbath: - (+ every) sabbath.

H7673
שׁבת
shâbath
shaw-bath'
A primitive root; to repose, that is, desist from exertion; used in many implied relations (causatively, figuratively or specifically): - (cause to, let, make to) cease, celebrate, cause (make) to fail, keep (sabbath), suffer to be lacking, leave, put away (down), (make to) rest, rid, still, take away.

 

 

Let's look at what the Jewish Virtual Library has to say about the Sabbath. (Source Judaism 101)

 


Shabbat

The Nature of Shabbat

 


The Sabbath (or Shabbat, as it is called in Hebrew) is one of the best known and least understood of all Jewish observances. People who do not observe Shabbat think of it as a day filled with stifling restrictions, or as a day of prayer like the Chr--tian Sabbath. But to those who observe Shabbat, it is a precious gift from Yahweh, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits. In Jewish literature, poetry and music, Shabbat is described as a bride or queen, as in the popular Shabbat hymn Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah (come, my beloved, to meet the [Sabbath] bride). It is said "more than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept Israel."

Shabbat is the most important ritual observance in Judaism. It is the only ritual observance instituted in the Ten Commandments.

Shabbat is primarily a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. The word "Shabbat" comes from the root Shin-Bet-Tav, meaning to cease, to end, or to rest.

Shabbat is not specifically a day of prayer. Although we do pray on Shabbat, and spend a substantial amount of time in synagogue praying, prayer is not what distinguishes Shabbat from the rest of the week. Observant Jews pray every day, three times a day. See Jewish Liturgy. To say that Shabbat is a day of prayer is no more accurate than to say that Shabbat is a day of feasting: we eat every day, but on Shabbat, we eat more elaborately and in a more leisurely fashion. The same can be said of prayer on Shabbat.

In modern America, we take the five-day work-week so much for granted that we forget what a radical concept a day of rest was in ancient times. The weekly day of rest has no parallel in any other ancient civilization. In ancient times, leisure was for the wealthy and the ruling classes only, never for the serving or laboring classes. In addition, the very idea of rest each week was unimaginable. The Greeks thought Jews were lazy because we insisted on having a "holiday" every seventh day.

 

 "Speak also to the children of Yisra'el, saying, 'Most certainly you shall keep my Shabbat: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am Yahweh who sanctifies you.
 You shall keep the Shabbat therefore; for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Shabbat of solemn rest, holy to Yahweh. Whoever does any work on the day of Shabbat shall surely be put to death.
  Exodus 31:13-15 [Emphasis Mine!]

Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments: to remember (zachor) the Sabbath, and to observe (shamor) the Sabbath.

Zachor: To Remember
We are commanded to remember Shabbat; but remembering means much more than merely not forgetting to observe Shabbat. It also means to remember the significance of Shabbat, both as a commemoration of creation and as a commemoration of our freedom from slavery in Egypt.

In Exodus 20:11, after Fourth Commandment is first instituted, Elohim explains, "because for six days, Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and on the seventh day, he rested; therefore, Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it." By resting on the seventh day and sanctifying it, we remember and acknowledge that Elohim is the creator of heaven and earth and all living things. We also emulate the divine example, by refraining from work on the seventh day, as Elohim did. If Elohim's work can be set aside for a day of rest, how can we believe that our own work is too important to set aside temporarily?

In Deuteronomy 5:15, while Moses reiterates the Ten Commandments, he notes the second thing that we must remember on Shabbat: "remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh, your Elohim brought you forth from there with a might hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore Yahweh your Elohim commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."

What does the Exodus have to do with resting on the seventh day? It's all about freedom. As I said before, in ancient times, leisure was confined to certain classes; slaves did not get days off. Thus, by resting on the Sabbath, we are reminded that we are free. But in a more general sense, Shabbat frees us from our weekday concerns, from our deadlines and schedules and commitments. During the week, we are slaves to our jobs, to our creditors, to our need to provide for ourselves; on Shabbat, we are freed from these concerns, much as our ancestors were freed from slavery in Egypt.

 


 

Ok! What can and cannot be done on the Sabbath day?  Can we work? Can we volunteer our time to secular projects?  Can we go shopping?  Can we buy and sell?  Can you be forced to work on the Sabbath?

 


 

 Keeping the Sabbath
Keeping Your Job
Written by: Dr. Daniel Botkin
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Do those who want to rest and worship Elohim on His weekly Holy day have to work on that day?

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"I’d like to keep the Sabbath, but I can’t — I have to work on Saturdays."



Wrong. You may think so, but you are mistaken. No one who believes in keeping the Sabbath has to work on Saturdays, at least not in America. No one is pointing a gun at the heads of American Chr--tians and Jews and forcing them to work on Saturdays. Americans who work on the Sabbath do so by their own choice, not because they have to.



There were many Sabbath-keeping Chr--tians in Communist Russia who were ordered by their oppressive government to work on Saturdays. Many of these Christians chose to obey Elohim rather than man, and they lost a lot more than some crummy job. They suffered imprisonment exile, and torture for refusing to break Yahweh’s holy Sabbath. When we stand with these faithful saints before the Master on Judgment Day, will any of us have the gall to say, "Well, Master, I wanted to keep the Sabbath, but I couldn’t — I had to work on Saturdays"?

How does a disciple of the Messiah go about getting every Sabbath off from his job? First of all, you do not go in and ask your employer if you can have Saturdays off. You are not there to make a request; you are there to inform. You inform your employer (politely and respectfully, of course) that you will not be available to work from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Your employer may respond in a number of ways:

"I’ll see what we can do to accommodate you, but in the meantime you’ll have to keep working Saturdays."
"We can give you Saturdays off, but you’ll have to work for a few hours on Friday nights."
"We’ll do our best to accommodate you, but we may have to occasionally ask you to come in on a Saturday if we’re short of help."
None of these responses is acceptable. Pharaoh tried three times to persuade Moses and Aaron to compromise Yahweh’s demands. (See Exodus 8:25-29, 10:8-11.) Moses and Aaron steadfastly refused to accept Pharaoh’s offer of a compromise solution, and we must likewise refuse to accept an employer’s offer of a compromise.

What if your employer refuses to accommodate you? One solution is to look for a different job. However, that may not be necessary. If this particular job is important to you, you may want to inform your employer of his legal obligation to accommodate employees’ religious practices. This should be done in a polite, respectful manner, not in an obnoxious or threatening way.

Many people do not realize that U.S. federal law requires employers to accommodate employees who need time off for religious reasons, "unless the employer demonstrates that accommodation would result in undue hardship on the conduct of its business." You, the employee, do not have to prove the validity of your case. It is the employer who must try to prove that letting you keep the Sabbath would cause undue hardship to his business. The burden of proof is on the employer, not on the employee.

U.S. Federal law considers the following solutions to be "reasonable accommodation" which would not cause undue hardship to an employer’s business:

Securing a substitute worker (even if the employer has to secure the substitute).
Flexible scheduling (flexible arrival and departure times; floating or optional holidays; flexible work breaks; use of lunch time in exchange for early departure; staggered work hours; permitting an employee to make up time lost due to the observance of religious practices).
Lateral transfer and change of job assignment.


The Employer:

"must offer the alternative which least disadvantages the individual [i.e., the employee] with respect to his or her employment opportunities. "
The employer can also be required to bear the extra costs of accommodating the employee, unless the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determines that it is "more than a de minimus cost."

Sometimes an employer is afraid to give an employee every Saturday off for fear that other employees will see this and likewise demand every Saturday (or Sunday) off for religious reasons. However, according to federal law, this is not proof of undue hardship:

"A mere assumption that many more people, with the same religious practices as the person being accommodated, may also need accommodation is not evidence of undue hardship."
The above legal information can be found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended [section 701(j), 703 and 717] and in Part XII Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Religion. These same laws apply to labor organizations as well as to employers. The laws pertain not only to scheduling (though this is the most frequent accommodation needed), but also to other religious practices such as a man’s right to wear a beard because of his religious convictions.

The employer’s legal obligation to accommodate "pertains to prospective employees as well as current employees." This means that employers conducting a job interview must be very careful when asking about the need for religious accommodation:

"The Commission will infer that the need for an accommodation discriminatorily influenced a decision to reject an applicant when: (i) prior to an offer of employment the employer makes an inquiry into an applicant’s availability without having a business necessity justification; and (ii) after the employer has determined the applicant’s need for an accommodation, the employer rejects a qualified applicant. The burden is then on the employer to demonstrate that factors other than the need for an accommodation were the reason for rejecting the qualified applicant, or that a reasonable accommodation without undue hardship was not possible."
I do not wish to bore readers with a lot of legal jargon, but Sabbath-keepers need to know that employees have legal rights to reasonable accommodations, and that some employees take their employers to court to enforce these rights. Even as I was writing this article, a story appeared in the 11/27/98 Jewish Press about a Seventh-Day Adventist whose employer tried to refuse to accommodate her:

"Lisette Balint, a resident of Carson City, Nevada, was offered a position in the city’s sheriff’s department, [and] the department refused to excuse her from working on the Sabbath" ("U.S. Court Defends Religious Rights," p. 62).
Sometimes the employer wins the case, of course, because sometimes it truly would cause undue hardship for the employer to accommodate the employee. When undue hardship is not an issue, though, the law is on our side.

Most employers are reasonable people and are intelligent enough to know that it would be wiser for them to accommodate your need than it would be to refuse you. Many employers will actually respect you for taking a firm, but polite, stand for what you believe. If they are smart, they will know that a person with strong convictions is likely to be a reliable, honest worker with some integrity. They will want to find a way to accommodate you. Some employers are not so kind and understanding, and will simply tell you, "No, you have to work on Saturdays." If that is the case, then you must pray and ask the Savior to show you what He would have you to do. Would the Master have you take your employer to court, or would the Master have you look for a different job? (You don’t need to pray about whether or not the Yahweh would have you keep working on the Sabbath; He’s already told you in the Ten Commandments not to do that!)

Fighting for your legal rights in court is one issue, but there is also the issue of maintaining a good testimony as a disciple of the Messiah. Some questions you might want to consider:

Do I really want to work for an employer who lets me have the Sabbath off only because he was forced to do so by the court?
Will going to court result in resentment and/or jealousy in my workplace, and do I want to work in such an atmosphere?
Is this job really worth fighting for?
Is it possible that letting me have every Sabbath off really would cause undue hardship for my employer’s business?
Even if the court rules in my favor, would there still be some hardship (though not "undue"), and would it be right to let my employer bear this inconvenience?


Keeping your job should really be your third priority in this arena. Keeping the Sabbath and keeping your testimony should be the first priorities. If you can do this and also keep your job, that’s great. Personally, I would not feel comfortable forcing my employer to pay extra costs in order to accommodate me, even though the law can require the employer to bear these minimal costs. For the sake of my testimony as a disciple of the Master, I would prefer to not exercise this legal right, and would pay for the extra costs myself, unless my employer voluntarily and cheerfully insisted on bearing the cost. I would also be reluctant to demand my legal right to "the alternative which least disadvantages the individual with respect to his or her employment opportunities." If an employer was willing to accommodate me, I would want to find the solution which least disadvantages both of us. If my employer is willing to bear some minor inconvenience in order to accommodate me, then I should be willing to bear some minor inconvenience to keep the Sabbath.

Every situation is unique and has many factors to consider. This is why it is important to pray before deciding whether or not to take your employer to court if he refuses to let you have the Sabbath off. If you do lose your job for the sake of obeying Yahweh, the Sovereign will honor your sacrifice. He may not provide another job immediately, but He has promised to meet your physical needs if you "seek first the kingdom of Yahweh" Mathew 6:33

In closing, always remember that you are not called to be a slave to your job. Although you are to treat your employer with honor and respect, your employer is not your Owner and Master. If you are a disciple of the Son of Elohim, then He is your real Owner and Master. You are called to be a servant in His Kingdom. You are not called to be a slave to the world system. So don’t let your employer or anyone else tell you that you have to work on the Sabbath.

[The above was edited for content and the Sacred Names were placed where they should be.]  I will continue this series with emphasis on Sabbath days obligations!

 

PART TWO



 

Yours in Yahshua, Hawke

 



 

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