"One must revere his mother and father and observe my Shabbos, I am Hashem your
L-rd" (Leviticus 19:3)
By combining the mitzvos of respecting parents, the Torah begins the first of
the myriad commands between both man and his fellow man, and man and his
Creator, that fill Parshas Kedoshim.
Rashi notes this curious combination of Shabbos observance and parental
respect. It interprets the juxtaposition to mean that Shabbos observance is so
important that it overrides parental request for its desecration.
But in addition to the halachic directive inferred by the proximity of the two
laws, perhaps there is a moral lesson, too.
Dr. James David Weis had been attending Rabbi Berel Wein's classes for a while,
and though he was not committed to Yiddishkeit in all its aspects, he was truly
fascinated by the amazing insights and the spiritual impact that Torah study
had made on his life. In fact although he was a shiur regular, and his wife
was committed to Torah observance as prescribed by the Shulchan Oruch, the
doctor had not yet made the commitment to observe Shabbos.
Towards the summer, Dr. Weiss mentioned to Rabbi Wein that shortly he would be
visiting Israel. The doctor had heard Rabbi Wein's stories of his experiences,
as the Rabbi of Miami Beach, having chauffeured Rabbi Yosef Kahanamen, the
Ponovezer Rav on his fund-raising missions in the United States. In many of
his lectures, Rabbi Wein had related his close relationship with Rav Kahanamen,
and Dr. Weiss excitedly told Rabbi Wein that he would soon visit the Ponovez
Yeshiva. Dr. Weiss did not know that the Rav had passed away a decade earlier,
so he enthusiastically offered to send Rabbi Wein's regards to the Ponovezer
Rav. Not trying to discourage the visit, Rabbi Wein smiled and said, "you
Dr. Weiss arrived at the Ponovez Yeshiva and after marveling at the beauty of
its gilded Aron Kodesh and nearly 1000 swaying Talmudists, he asked a boy to
direct him to the Ponovezer Rav. Since the Rav had passed away a decade
earlier, they directed him to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Menachem Shach.
Dr. Weiss waited for the sage to lift his head from the large tome.
The old sage looked up and greeted the doctor. Dr. Weiss stuck out his hand,
and with the remnants of the Yiddish he had salvaged from his youth, he
addressed Rav Shach.
"Sholom Aleichem! My name is Dr. Weiss I study with Rabbi Wein and I come from
America with warmest regards from him."
Rav Shach looked at him quizzically. "I don't know a Rabbi Wein."
"Don't you remember?" asked Dr. Weiss in shock. "Rabbi Berel Wein," he
repeated. "He would often drive you when you visited Miami on behalf of the
Rav Shach smiled.
"I don't know Rabbi Wein, and I have never been to Miami. My name is Shach. I
think you meant to see Rav Kahanamen, but unfortunately he has passed away."
Dr. Weiss looked embarrassed.
But Rav Shach quickly dissolved the discomfort by holding the doctor's hand and
blessing him warmly.
"Dr. Weiss, you are a good Jew and you should be a gebenchta (a blessed) Jew.
But remember, Shabbos observance is an integral part of Yiddishkeit. Do not
forsake the Shabbos!"
Dr. Weiss was astonished. How did Rav Shach know about his wavering about
commitment to Torah-observance?
It did not make much of a difference, because from that day on Dr. Weiss
affirmed his committed to Shabbos with the same intensity that he had always
committed to his fellow man
Perhaps the Torah juxtaposed the most basic tenet of any society with the
highest form of our spiritual expression to teach us that the two are
Many people feel that Judaism entails all that is mom and apple pie. But there
is more to Yiddishkeit than what we, as Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans,
and even Israelis feel good about or think is morally correct. Judaism entails
the essence of our spirituality that is encompassed and represented by Shabbos
observance. Judaism is more than Mom and Apple Pie; it is entails Motherhood
and Shabbos rest.
IN HONOR OF THE MARRIAGE OF DOV WILHELM AND AHUVA STIENFELD