The Importance of Shabbat - Adapted from Rabbi Eli Mansour by Aryeh Krischer


There is a notable difference between the presentation of Shabbat in this week’s Parashah and the presentation of Shabbat in Parashat Yitro. In Yitro, the description of work is in the active voice. The Pasuk there states, “Sheishet Yamim Ta’avod VeAsita Kol Melachtecha,” “For six days you shall work, and do all of your work” (Shemot 20:8). However, in Parashat VaYakheil, the description of work is in the passive voice, as the Pasuk states, “Sheishet Yamim Tei’aseh Melachah,” “For six days work shall be done” (35:2).

This passivity can be interpreted as referring to those who spend their week engaged in Torah study. From their viewpoint, during their weeks of Torah study, work is done, because they do not actually work. Consequently, Shabbat is “Lachem,” “For you” (ad loc.), meaning for those who spend all week engaged in Torah, Shabbat is a day for them. However, for those who work during the week, Shabbat is a day “LaShem Elokecha,” “For Hashem your God” (20:9). It is a day to dedicate to Torah study, because the week is devoted to other pursuits. While Shabbat is vital for rest and relaxation, it is also there to allow those who spend the week engaged in work to devote time to learning Torah.

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