by Rav Shimshon Pincus, ztz”l
How can we attain the kedushah of Shabbos? There are two things we need to do on Shabbos:
The first is to remember Shabbos, to know Shabbos is here -- Zachor. If we are unaware that Shabbos is here, nothing will help. Let’s say a chasan doesn’t know the kallah is present. In such a situation, they cannot rejoice together! Knowing Shabbos is here means being aware that this day can grant us greatness and closeness to Hashem more than any other time.
The second thing we need to do is guard Shabbos -- Shamor. We must guard this special time alone with Hashem from the disturbance of weekday influences. Shabbos is our private audience with Hashem, and this privacy must be protected. Chazal tell us that a non-Jew may not keep Shabbos and is put to death if he does. Why? What did he do that was so terrible? The Midrash explains that he is invading the privacy of the King and Queen, who are sitting together.
Guard Shabbos so it will be just for you
Guard Shabbos so it will be just for you and Hashem. The world is gone and has ceased to exist, so forget about your mundane, weekday life with all its routine activities. You are now alone with Hashem, in Olam Haba!
Shabbos has one positive mitzvah and one negative mitzvah. The positive one is (Shemos 20:7): “Remember the day of Shabbos.” And the negative one is (Devarim 5:11): “Guard the day of Shabbos.” This second mitzvah means not to desecrate Shabbos.
The word “Shabbos” is derived from shevisa, “cessation of activity.” During the six days of the week Hashem did His work. On the seventh, He rested; He stopped creating and returned to His state of greatness. What does this mean? Was Hashem tired and in need of a day of rest?
The answer is that shevisa, cessation from work, does not mean “rest.” It means stopping. For six days we live within the world, but on the seventh, we leave our world. We return to Hashem and His world. Just has Hashem has stopped creating and returned to His state of greatness, on Shabbos we cease to live within and the world and we return to our true greatness.
Nowadays, Shabbos is so important. The modern world exerts such a grip on us that it’s hard to disengage from it. Shabbos gives us the ability and the opportunity to shake off the world around us, with all its media and communication and nonsense, and connect ourselves to Hashem.
Excerpted from Nefesh Shimshon: Shabbos Kodesh, Feldheim, 2009