“And God saw that all had been made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day God finished the work that had been undertaken: [God] ceased on the seventh day from doing any of the work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy-having ceased on it from all the work of creation that God had done.”
In the United States we celebrate Labor Day each year, today, on the first of September. The US Department of Labor states that Labor Day is celebrated in commemoration of “the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
In all fairness to the Department of Labor, when I think of Labor Day my first thought is not on the advances of the American Labor Movement. For me, and many Americans, Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer and beginning of fall. There are celebrations with barbecues, folks insisting that this is our last chance to wear a seersucker suit and be outdoors. I think of how the days are going to start to get colder again and pray that, here in New England, we can hold off on snow for as long as possible.
Thinking about the idea of acknowledging the work done in the past year, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between Labor Day and the seventh day of creation. In Genesis, there is this seventh day of stepping back and admiring the work done. The entire cosmos has been crafted. Every star, every galaxy, every world. To create everything is worth taking a step back and admiring.
What I think is significant is the fact that if you look at this first section of Genesis, even though the entire universe is created, the story is not over. Eden will spring up and humankind will make its entrance on the stage in a big way. The majority of the books that follow these opening lines focus on what humans do in creation, through struggle and joy. But it is important that even God took a day to just reflect on what was created, perhaps knowing the work that was to come. Today, people of all denominations and creeds can take this secular holiday to reflect on the work of the past year.
Here at Mayyim Hayyim, Labor Day marks a brief reprieve before the flurry of activity that is the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar. Within the next month we will be in the midst of the Jewish New Year and many Jews will make the choice to come here to Mayyim Hayyim in order to get ready. We have much work to do to be ready for them.
But today we rest and recognize the labors of the past year. And be renewed for the work that is to come.
Walton Clark is Mayyim Hayyim’s office assistant and jack of all trades. He is a working BAM keyboardist in Boston, performing in a variety of groups. You can follow him on Twitter @walt_twitwalker and on Instagram @welaxer.