You should do your work for six days and on the seventh day is a Sabbath of Sabbath’s, (Shabat Shabaton) you should not do all forms of work. It is Shabat to G-d in all of your settlements.
After this we are told about all of the holidays and some of their rituals. This reminds me of a Torah Discussion I once gave. I then discussed the differences between Shabat which reminds us of G-d’s acts of creation – Zecher Lemaaseh Bereshit and other Holidays which remind us exclusively of our freedom from Egypt – Zecher Leyitziat Mitzraim.
What is the difference between these two concepts?
In order to answer this we need to understand each concept.
Zecher Lemaaseh Bereshit – Remembering G-d’s acts of creation means that we do not work because G-d stopped working on Shabat. This is very important because during the week we work and do our other activities. We can easily come to think that we run the world. Without our activities the whole world might stop. On Shabat we stop our activities of writing, driving, computing, buying, selling and gardening. Despite the fact that we do not do these the world still turns. When we do these activities we do not contemplate the fact that G-d makes the world turn. Shabat is, therefore, Zecher Lemaaseh Bereshit – Remembering G-d’s creation of the Universe.
Zecher Leyitziat Mitzraim – Remembering that G-d took us out of slavery in Egypt means that we appreciate the freedom which G-d gave us. As part of this freedom from Egypt he gave us his Torah which if we follow it further gives us spiritual freedom.
Since we were slaves so we must give our slaves, friends and workers freedom from being overworked.
There is also an aspect of remembering our freedom from Egypt as Part of Social laws. Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory refer to social laws as Mitzvot Ben Adam Lechavero – Commandments involving a man and his friend.
We benefit our peers who happen to be employed by us, by not making them work. We even free our animals from laboring on Shabat.
The Mitzvah of keeping Shabat is therefore a combination of Commandments between man and G-d and between man and his friend. We remember G-d through not working and we perform a Mitzvah between man and his friends by not making others work.