After the aberration of the Golden Calf, the need for a Temple, reminding Jews of the Divine presence in their midst, became paramount. Nonetheless, the House of G-d, as important as it was, did not cancel the Shabbat rest. Thus, this week’s reading in conjunction to building the Temple relates, “On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy to you.” Commentaries wonder why Shabbat, a TIME related mitzvah, is connected with a structure in physical SPACE.
In modern physics, time and space intersect. We’ve even coined the phrase SPACETIME, to describe a four-dimensional grid against which all physical objects and events are measured. No wonder that many of the characteristics of space are attributed to time. We speak of a point in time or a stretch of time. Indeed, time’s complexities can be better comprehended when we apply geometric space models. One such diagram is the circle, considered the most perfect of spatial shapes. The circle has three features; its center point, radius and circumference.
Of the three, the largest is the circumference which is approximately six times the length of the radius. This is true of all circles regardless of size. Conversely, the center point actually occupies no area. (If it did, it could be divided into two points.) As such, it should hardly qualify as a component of space.
Still it is the point that defines and begins all other geometric shapes; be they lines, triangles, or the circle. While the point may not occupy any measurable space, it is this center that truly defines the circle. The radius extends from it, the diameter turns on it, and the circumference is drawn in relation to it. Every feature of the circle depends upon it.
A similar model must be utilized to understand the importance of Shabbat to the rest of the week. The exterior surface of this circle (its circumference) is represented by the six work days. The center of the circle is Shabbat. Just as the center point cannot be measured in space, Shabbat is not counted as just another day in time. Indeed, it is timeless. Concurrently, just as all spatial dimensions revolve around this point of no space, similarly, the cycle of the week gyrates to the Shabbat axis that is above time.
That is why these two disparate laws are brought together. They share a similar model, with practical applications for our mobile and Internet society. Our reach is worldwide. We fly from one continent to the other, order books from anywhere with the click of a mouse, and watch astronauts in real time parking space stations in the distant heavens.
If it seems as if the borders of space and time have moved outward at speeds once hardly imaginable, they have. But the laws of geometry still hold true. Regardless of how distant the circumference, the immutable and immeasurable Sanctuary (holy space) and Shabbat (holy time), must be at the core of our hectic lives.