In Friday night Kiddush we quote the first three Pesukim of the second Perek of Parashat BeReishit, which say, “VaYechulu HaShamayim VeHaAretz VeChol Tzevaam,VaYichal Elokim BaYom HaShevii Melachto Asher Asah, VaYishbot BaYom HaShevii MiKol Milachto Asher Asah VaYevarech Elokim Et Yom HaShevii VaYikadeish Oto Ki Vo Shavat MiKol Melachto Asher Barah Elokim Laasot,” “And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all of their array, Hashem completed on the seventh day His work that He did; and He abstained on the seventh day from all the work that He did, and Hashem blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because on it He abstained from all his work that Hashem created to make.” (BeReishit 2:1-3) The Mefarshim (commentaries) explain that many of the words and phrases in this section have deeper meanings beyond the simple interpretation.
It is interesting to point out that for the first six days, the Torah writes “VaYehi Erev VaYehi Boker Yom…” but for the seventh day it does not. The Baal HaTurim uses the fact that the Torah does not use this phrase to teach that Shabbat should be extended to include more than just an evening and a day. Rashi and Seforno both note that the exact moment Hashem finished creating the world was the exact second that it changed from the sixth day to the seventh day. To humans, who cannot tell time precisely, this moment is on the seventh day, not in between days. We therefore have the custom to accept Shabbat early in order not to inadvertently transgress Shabbat when we believe it is Friday.
Why does the Torah repeat the word “Melachah” three times; it seems pointless to do so. The Baal HaTurim teaches that the word appears three times because Hashem rested from three creations: the creation of the sky, the creation of the sea, and the creation of the land. The Baal Haturim adds that the word VaYivareich appears three times in Tanach: here, regarding Noach, and regarding Yitzchak. These allude to the three times that Hashem blessed the entire world: when He finished creating it He blessed it, when Hashem saw that the world required another blessing after the majority of the world was destroyed in the Mabul He blessed it, and He blessed the entire world by giving Yitzchak with the power to bless the world. From the point of the third blessing on, it became the responsibility of all of Bnei Yisrael to enhance the world and not the responsibility of Hashem. This third blessing is passed on generation to generation through our action, and our observance of Shabbat is an action that blesses the world.
Why are the words “Vayevarech and Vayekadeish” both necessary in the Pasuk? Rashi explains that Hashem will bless Friday with the Man, the food Bnei Yisrael received in the Midbar, because a double portion fell, and He will sanctify the Shabbat with the Man since it did not fall at all. The Baal HaTurim also gives this answer to the meaning of Vayevarech and Vayekadeish. The Ramban explains these two words by quoting Rav Saadiah Gaon who states that Hashem will sanctify and bless the people who keep Shabbat. He then rejects this opinion and the opinion of Rashi on the grounds that the Pasuk uses the past tense, not the future. He then quotes Ibn Ezra, who says that blessing is an increase in goodness; on Shabbat, a person’s body is renewed through an increase in strength, and his soul is renewed through an increase in wisdom. The sanctification is in that no Melachah is being done. Ramban says that this explanation is good for anyone who can fully understand it, but it is very difficult for people to understand. Finally he gives his own Kabbalistic answer, which he acknowledges is very difficult to understand. Vayivareich and Vayikadeish are not actually talking about blessing and sanctifying Shabbat but rather blessing and sanctifying through Shabbat.
This short passage in the Torah ends with the words “Bara Elokim La’asot”. Rashi comments on these words and says that Hashem did double the work on Friday to prepare for Shabbat. The Ibn Ezra and Radak say that Hashem gave the world the power to reproduce on its own because “Laasot” means “to make itself”. The Ramban gives three explanations to these words and his third concentrates on the fact that Bara is the creation of the world in six days, and La’asot is the life of the world in six millennia. (This concept of the world existing for 6000 years is found in BeReishit Rabba 19:8, and in the Gemara in Sanhedrin 97a, Avodah Zarah 9a, and in Rosh Hashanah 31a.) On the first day, Hashem created light and in the first millennium, Adam, who is known as the light of the world, lived. On the second day, Hashem created a division between waters; in the second millennium, Noach and his sons were separated from the rest of the world, who were punished through water. On the third day, Hashem created dry land, which sprouted and grew fruit, and similarly in the third millennium, Avraham began to call out in the name of Hashem, and sprouted spiritually. On the fourth day, Hashem created the sun, moon, and stars; the fourth millennium took place 72 years after the building of the first Beit HaMikdash, and ended 172 years after the second Beit HaMikdash was destroyed. For this time, there was light for all of Bnei Yisrael. Then the sun and moon set, and the Batei Mikdash were destroyed. On the fifth day, Hashem created fish; in the fifth millennium, Nochri nations ruled the world and they were helpless like a fish out of the sea. On the sixth day, Hashem created animals and at the end, people; in the sixth millennium, the world was/is/will be ruled by “beasts,” who don’t believe in Hashem, and towards the end, it appears that a fiercer empire will arise, which will know Hashem. The seventh day was Shabbat, and the seventh millennium will hopefully be the time of Mashiach.
Whenever we say these three Psukim, may we understand them a little better, and in that Zechut may we be transported to the seventh millennium and the times of Mashiach.