Shabbat (שַׁבָּת) is the Hebrew word for Sabbath; along with the annual Yom Kippur (יוֹם כִּפּוּר), the weekly Sabbath is considered the holiest day of the year in Judaism.
The Sabbath is one of the best known and least understood of all Jewish observances… to those who observe Shabbat, it is a precious gift from G-d, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside 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-Beit-Tav, meaning to rest.
…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.
Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments: to remember (zakhor) Shabbat, and to observe (shamor) Shabbat.
Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it (Zakhor et yom ha-Shabbat l’kad’sho) -Exodus 20:8
Observe the Sabbath day to sanctify it (Shamor et yom ha-Shabbat l’kad’sho) -Deuteronomy 5:12
Shabbat in the Bible
Shabbat as an Island in Time