Thursday, March 5, 2009

Guard and Remember

The observance of Shabbat is the fourth of the Ten Commandments, and so it is listed in both Exodus and Deuteronomy where the Ten Commandments are listed. One would expect to find no difference in the wording of the Ten Commandments from one Biblical Book to the next. However, the wording of the Fourth Commandment differs in two major ways.
In Exodus, the Jews are commanded: “Remember (zachor) the Sabbath day” because “in six days God created the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day He rested.” In Deuteronomy, they are instructed to “Guard (shamor) the Sabbath day” because “you were a slave in Egypt, and God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.”
On the whole, however, the two commandments are the same--whether remembered or guarded, Shabbat is to be made holy and no creative work (m’la’cha) is to be done on it. Indeed, according to Jewish tradition, when God told the Jewish people the Ten Commandments, He spoke the words zachor and shamor at the same instant (Talmud Rosh Hashanah 27a), illustrating the fact that there are two important aspects to the observance of Shabbat.
Remember the Sabbath, zachor, refers to the positive commandments: reciting Kiddush (the blessing over the wine), having three meals, lighting the candles, etc. Remembering Shabbat also refers to the constant focus on Shabbat--represented in the fact that the Hebrew names of the days of the week are the First Day to Shabbat, the Second Day to Shabbat, the Third Day to Shabbat....Shabbat. The days count up to Shabbat, just as Jews spend their week looking forward to and preparing for Shabbat.
Guard the Sabbath, shamor, refers to the prohibited acts which serve to make sure that the day remains holy. By wearing nice clothing, drinking wine, eating a full sit-down meal, inviting guests, etc., Jews around the world transform Shabbat.


Twebrew School: Shabbat is brought to you on behalf of Shabbat Across America and Shabbat Across Canada, the only cross-continental celebration of Shabbat. The fourteenth annual SAA/C will take place on March 5, 2010. To learn more, click here.

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Reward of Honoring Shabbat

According to the wisdom of the sages, there is no way to “over-spend” on Shabbat. As it is said, “One who lends to Shabbat, Shabbat repays him!”(Shabbat 119a). “Lending to Shabbat” does not mean going into debt to purchase fancy foods or decor, but rather that one should borrow from his/her weekday budget in order to make Shabbat more beautiful.


How does Shabbat repay those who honor it? Primarily, there is the spiritual and physical “recharge of the batteries.” Sometimes, however, the reward is tangible, as in the story of Joseph Mokir-Shabbat, whose dedication to honoring Shabbat was richly rewarded (Shabbat 119a):

Joseph Mokir-Shabbat was known for his largess when preparing for Shabbat. One day, his neighbor was told by fortune tellers that “Joseph Mokir-Shabbat has eaten all your wealth.” Assuming that this meant that Joseph would take over his lands, the man sold all his property, and bought a precious jewel with the proceeds. He hid the jewel in his hat. One day, however, a wind blew his hat into the river, and he watched, devastated, as a fish swallowed the jewel.

Not long thereafter, the fish was caught by some Jewish fishermen. However, it was almost Shabbat and they did not know to whom they could sell it.

“Take it to Joseph Mokir-Shabbat,” they were told, “who always buys delicacies in honor of Shabbat.” Although Joseph had already prepared his Shabbat meal, he was happy to spend the extra money for the special fish. (And this in the days without freezers!)

When Joseph went to prepare his fish he found the jewel, which he sold for a princely sum (Shabbat 119a).


Twebrew School: Shabbat is brought to you on behalf of Shabbat Across America and Shabbat Across Canada, the only cross-continental celebration of Shabbat. The fourteenth annual SAA/C will take place on March 5, 2010. To learn more, click here.

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.