Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Yisro

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"Remember the Sabbath, to sanctify it." [20:8]

Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, quotes the Talmud Shavuos [20b]: "'Remember' [as above] and 'guard' [the Sabbath to sanctify it..., Dev. 5:12] were said in one statement." According to the Talmud, G-d said both commandments in the same instant - one of very few such instances found in the Torah.

The Leket Bahir notes that there are many places in Devarim [Deuteronomy], aptly called "Mishnah Torah" or "review of Torah," where the Torah repeats that which was said earlier, and changes or adds to the previous version. Indeed, there are several other changes within the "10 commandments" themselves. So why in only a few cases, such as this one, did our Sages explain that both verses were said together?

The answer is that as we all know, not everything which is said is written down - and in those other cases, our teacher Moshe provided further detail in his "review" in Devarim. But "remember" and "guard" are contradictory statements: "remember" is a positive commandment, to perform 'rememberances' and thus sanctify the Sabbath, whereas "guard" is a negative commandment, to withhold oneself from actions which would disturb the sanctity of Shabbos, and thus sanctify the day. Therefore one cannot say that the latter version merely adds on to what was said previously, because if there was really only one statement, then the "sanctification" could only come about through one means.

There must be, then, two commandments, so the sanctification comes about through both "remembering" and "guarding" the day. Just as the positive commandment is designed to recall G-d's dominance over all Creation and our special connection to Him, so too the negative is supposed to facilitate this recognition.

Someone once asked me why everyone else takes a break from their jobs on Shabbos - but the Rabbi just gets busier! He delivers a sermon, gives classes, and certainly doesn't stop his Torah learning for the day. And on the other hand, someone also asked me why, if someone's idea of rest and relaxation is driving down to the beach, that isn't an appropriate Shabbos activity.

Both of these questions stem from the same misunderstanding, and it has less to do with the definition of "rest" than the definition of "work." The Torah doesn't say that "avodah," or "work," is forbidden, but rather "melachah," or "creative labor." Any activity which is physically (rather than mentally) creative is forbidden, including cooking, sewing, planting, building, and 35 other basic categories (all of which were part of building the Tabernacle).

Taking a vacation, or a day at the beach, is indeed the opposite of working at a job, but Shabbos is the opposite of all _physically_ creative activity. The intent is to force us to step back from our own efforts to mold the world, in order to recognize He who is ultimately in charge. In other words, the goal of our physical rest is not inactivity, but - to the contrary - spiritual activity and growth! This is how the negative commandment ultimately works together with the positive, in order to bring us to the same spiritual goal.

Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 






ARTICLES ON HAAZINU AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

Thoughts for Pre-Rosh Hashanah
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5755

To Walk With God
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Leave it Up to the King
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

The Power of Song
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5758

Rosh Hashana and the Kiss of Life
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

ArtScroll

The 'New' of the New Year
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Judge Me Tender, Judge Me Sweet
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

Past, Present, and Future
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

> Elul: A Month of Preparation
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Doing Our Part
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771

Teshuva—Paradigm Shift
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Starting From Scratch
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Q & A Regarding Rosh HaShana
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Shofar: Shock Treatment
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5767

True Foundation
Shlomo Katz - 5758



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information