Dvar Torah Classics and Beyond Va’eschanan — Reasons for Rest

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    Va’eschanan — Reasons for Rest
    שמור את יום השבת לקדשו כאשר צוך ה’ אלקיך: ששת ימים תעבד ועשית כל מלאכתך: ויום השביעי שבת לה’ אלקיך לא תעשה כל מלאכה אתה ובנך ובתך ועבדך ואמתך ושורך וחמרך וכל בהמתך וגרך אשר בשעריך למען ינוח עבדך ואמתך כמוך: וזכרת כי עבד היית בארץ מצרים ויצאך ה’ אלקיך משם ביד חזקה ובזרע נטויה על כן צוך ה’ אלקיך לעשות את יום השבת
    Guard the Shabbos day to sanctify it, as Hashem, your G-d, commanded you. Six days shall you work and do all your work. But the seventh day is Shabbos to Hashem, your G-d; you shall not do any work — you and your son and your daughter and your slave and your maidservant and your ox and your donkey and your every animal, and your convert within your gates, in order that your slave and your maidservant may rest like you. And you shall remember that you were a slave in the Land of Egypt, and that Hashem, your G-d, has taken you out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore, Hashem, your G-d, commanded you to make the Shabbos day (Devarim 5:12-15).
    There are several differences between the two versions of the Aseres HaDibros, which appear in Parashas Yisro and then again in Va’eschanan. Rav Meir Simchah of Dvinsk (Meshech Chochmah Va’eschanan) discusses the differences found in the fourth of the Dibros, the mitzvah of Shabbos.
    In Yisro, the nature of the obligation seems positive or proactive. We are instructed, “Zachor es yom haShabbos,” to remember the day of Shabbos (Shemos 20:8), whereas in Va’eschanan, we are commanded, “Shamor es yom haShabbos,” to guard the day of Shabbos, making the command more restrictive in nature.
    The reason for the mitzvah also switches. In the first, the underpinning of the mitzvah is that Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh (Shemos 20:11), and we are to do likewise. In the second, we are commanded to remember how Hashem redeemed us from Egypt, and therefore we must keep His Shabbos.
    Rav Meir Simchah writes that there are two parallel reasons for keeping Shabbos: Shabbos is a testament to the fact that Hashem created the universe ex nihilo, yeish mei’ayin. It also serves as a day to abstain from work and instead turn our hearts to Hashem, to study His Torah, and to not be influenced by the world at large.
    This, he says, dovetails with the Talmud Yerushalmi’s two distinct reasons for the mitzvah of Shabbos (Shabbos 15:3): “Lo nitnu Shabbosos… ella la’asok ba’hen be’divrei Sorah,” and “Lo nitnu Shabbosos… ella le’achilah u’le’shesiah,” that Shabbos was given: 1. to learn Torah, and: 2. to eat and drink.
    The first reason, to learn Torah, corresponds to the pasuk in Va’eschanan, which recalls our Exodus. As slaves in Egypt, we were unable to sit back and focus on Hashem; now, we are given a day for learning Torah, for spiritual contemplation and growth. The second reason, to eat and drink, corresponds to the pasuk in Yisro, which is reflective of creation. The One Who formed and created the world has the means to provide us with sustenance — which is nothing in comparison to the act of creation. When we enjoy the more abundant and finer fare on Shabbos, we are affirming our belief that Hashem will also provide for our needs, and that we have no reason to worry about tomorrow.
    The Ramban (Vayikra 23:24) writes that aside from the thirty-nine melachos prohibited by the Torah on Shabbos, there are additional issur shevusin, restrictions of work, as formulated by the Sages, which are also Biblical in nature. So though the Sages determined the specifics of these laws, their prohibition is from the Torah. Otherwise, explains the Ramban, a person would spend his whole day buying, selling, and arranging his merchandise — without engaging in actual melachah. This chiddush (see Ritva Rosh Hashanah 32b) fits beautifully with the first reason in the Yerushalmi, that Shabbos was given to free us so that we could be involved in Torah.
    The Yidden in the Midbar ate manna and were not engaged in agriculture or business. As a result, they were free to learn Toras Hashem all day, and they didn’t need any additional shevusin. However, they were soon going to enter Eretz Yisrael, where they would be involved in farming and commerce, so they needed to be taught the additional restrictions.
    With this, the Meshech Chochmah explains the differences between the mitzvah of Shabbos in the Dibros in Yisro and in Va’eschanan. The first Dibros were said at Har Sinai, when Bnei Yisrael were living in the Midbar, so they did not need the additional restrictions; the basic melachos would suffice. For them, the main point of Shabbos was to eat and drink and testify that Hashem created the world. As such, the mitzvah was prefaced with “zachor”; they had to remember that Hashem created the world (the first reason given for the mitzvah) and act accordingly.
    In Va’eschanan, they were ready to enter Eretz Yisrael, and they needed the additional restrictions, so that they would be free on Shabbos to learn and focus on Hashem. Accordingly, the mitzvah is prefaced with “shamor,” indicating how they must guard themselves with fences (syagim) and restrictions (shevusin). They had to refrain from worldly affairs and devote the day to avodas Hashem and limud Torah. This is only accomplished with the addition of the shevusin and syagim, for otherwise even if one is not engaged in actual melachah, he is not engaged in actual growth.
    The reason given in Va’eschanan is that Shabbos is a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt. We no longer serve a king of flesh and blood, a work that is only focused on the here and now; rather, we serve the King of Kings and engage in the study of Torah, a work whose value is eternal and sublime.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Klei Yakar in Parashas Yisro discusses the differences. The reason over there is the six day creation where a goy is also responsible to commemorate whereas yetzias mitzraim only applies to Jews. I explained with this shabbos morning davenen. It quotes veshomeru to prove that shabbos is in the lachus and not zachor? We said that shabbos was not given to the goyim but we just said that to commemorate the creation the goyim also have a responsibility some how. It says in veshomeru that between Hashem and the Benei Yisroel is a sign but not between Hashem and the goyim.


    did you my counter offer from last week?

    Reb Eliezer

    Zechira, remembrance applies also to goyim but shemira, refrain from work on shabbos only applies to Jews.

    Reb Eliezer

    Maybe we can connect the two reasons with a Ramban who says that hotzisicha by aseres hadibros also validates the creation as only the One who created the world can change it.
    So yetzias mitraim includes the creation but creation does not necessarily include yetzias mitzraim.


    I actually do have a bottle of JW Black in the house, a gift from someone who stayed in my house – of all times, over pesach. I dont drink and if your in town Id be happy to give it to you. Im serious. My offer re the sefer still stands. Dont know what CR stands for but I like the ring of The Coffee Rooms Magid.

    I heard Rav Gifter (of Telz fame) say a rolling over and laugh inducing line about Jim Bean and Johnny Walker, but can only share it in another venue. find my email

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