THERE IS A STORY TOLD of Elimelech of Lizensk. It was said that he had gone beyond his ego to the extent that he was no longer conscious of himself as a discrete entity. And because of this, he perpetually merged with the Divine Presence.
People would follow his carriage, but Elimelech could never understand why. He would ask his coachman, “Why are all the people trailing behind?”
And the coachman would explain about how people wanted to follow after wisdom and holiness. Well, Elimelech would decide that that was a good idea — the people were doing the right thing. So he would get out and join the people following the empty carriage.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk taught that “One who is too filled with himself has no room for God.” Which is another way of saying that God only inhabits empty carriages. And that the truly righteous know this and that is why they get out of the carriage.
In the Japanese version of this story, the Zen master pours water into a cup that soon overflows to illustrate to a would-be student that you can’t take in anything new until you empty out a little of what’s already there and create some space.
What does it mean to enter into the holy space of Shabbat?
It means we have to get out of the carriage, we have to empty the cup of all the stuff we’ve filled ourselves up with for the entire week and give the Divine Presence a place to enter.