The Talmud: Selections, by H. Polano, , at sacred-texts.com
Rabbi Jochanan said, in the name of Rabbi Joseh, "To those who delight in the Sabbath shall God give inheritance without end. As it is written, 'Then shalt thou find delight in the Lord,' &c. 'And I will cause thee to enjoy the
inheritance of Jacob, thy father.' Not as it was promised to Abraham, 'Arise and walk through the land to its length and breadth.' Not as it was promised to Isaac, 'I will give thee all that this land contains;' but as it was promised to Jacob, 'And thou shalt spread abroad, to the West, and to the East, to the North, and to the South.'"
Rabbi Jehudah said that if the Israelites had strictly observed the first Sabbath, after the command to sanctify the seventh day had been given, they would have been spared captivity; as it is written, "And it came to pass on the seventh day, that there went out some of the people to gather (the Mannah), but they found nothing." And in the next chapter we find, "Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim."
The following is one of the many tales designed to show that the observance of the Sabbath is rewarded:
One Joseph, a Jew, who honoured the Sabbath, had a very rich neighbour, who was a firm believer in astrology. He was told by one of the professional astrologers that his wealth would become Joseph's. He therefore sold his estate, and bought with the proceeds a large diamond, which he sewed in his turban, saying, "Joseph can never obtain this." It so happened, however, that while standing one day upon the deck of a ship in which he was crossing the sea, a heavy wind arose and carried the turban from his head. A fish swallowed the diamond, and being caught and exposed for sale in the market, was purchased by Joseph to supply his table on the Sabbath eve. Of course, upon opening it he discovered the diamond.
Rabbi Ishmael, the son of Joshua, was asked, "How did the rich people of the land of Israel become so wealthy?" He answered, "They gave their tithes in due season, as it is written, 'Thou shalt give tithes, in order that thou mayest
become rich." "But," answered his questioner, "tithes were given to the Levites, only while the holy temple existed. What merit did they possess while they dwelt in Babel, that they became wealthy there also?" "Because," replied the Rabbi, "they honoured the Holy Law by expounding it." "But in other countries, where they did not expound the Law, how did they deserve wealth?" "By honouring the Sabbath," was the answer.
Rabbi Achiya, the son of Abah, said, "I sojourned once in Ludik, and was entertained by a certain wealthy man on the Sabbath day. The table was spread with a sumptuous repast, and the dishes were of silver and gold. Before making a blessing over the meal the master of the house said, 'Unto the Lord belongeth the earth, with all that it contains.' After the blessing he said, 'The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth hath He given to the children of men.' I said to my host, 'I trust you will excuse me, my dear sir, if I take the liberty of asking you how you have merited this prosperity?' He answered, 'I was formerly a butcher, and I always selected the finest cattle to be killed for the Sabbath, in order that the people might have the best meat on that day. To this, I believe firmly, I owe my prosperity.' I replied, 'Blessed be the Lord, that He hath given thee all this.'"
The Governor Turnusrupis once asked Rabbi Akiba, "What is this day you call the Sabbath more than any other day?" The Rabbi responded, "What art thou more than any other person?" "I am superior to others," he replied, "because the emperor has appointed me governor over them."
Then said Akiba, "The Lord our God, who is greater than your emperor, has appointed the Sabbath day to be holier that the other days."
Beautiful is the legend of the Sabbath eve.
When man leaves the synagogue for his home an angel of good and an angel of evil accompany him. If he finds the table spread in his house, the Sabbath lamps lighted, and his wife and children in festive garments ready to bless the holy day of rest, then the good angel says:
"May the next Sabbath and all thy Sabbaths be like this. Peace unto this dwelling, peace;" and the angel of evil is forced to say, "Amen!"
But if the house is not ready, if no preparations have been made to greet the Sabbath, if no heart within the dwelling has sung, "Come, my beloved, to meet the bride; the presence of the Sabbath let us receive;" then the angel of evil speaks and says:
"May all thy Sabbaths be like this;'' and the weeping angel of goodness, responds, "Amen!"