Vertluch: Parshas Va’eschanan – Nachamu


שמור את יום השבת לקדשו כאשר צוך ה’ אלוקיך (ה, כ)
(קודם מתן תורה) במרה (רש”י)

As we have previously mentioned, sefer devarim repeats most of what had already happened to klal Yisroel through Moshe’s writings. You will notice that in the first “set” of the aseres hadibros, in parshas Yisro, there is no loshon of ‘k’asher tzivcha’ like the above pasuk is written. In parshas V’eschanan, it only says these words when talking about Shabbos and kibud av v’aim. What is the significance of mentioning the loshon of ‘k’asher tzivcha’ only in the second writing of the dibros and why is it only mentioned by these two dibros? Furthermore, why does the Torah tell us how and when we were commanded to do this mitzvah? This is not a common lashon and it requires a deeper understanding.

The explanation here is beautiful:

We know that Hashem commanded us to rest on Shabbos and not to do any work. All we should do is relax, daven, eat seudos and be ‘misaneg al Hashem’. However, this leaves room for a person to misunderstand the true purpose of Shabbos for even a non-Jew needs a break. It’s impossible for one to work twelve to fifteen hour days in an office, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. From a purely physical standpoint Shabbos is a logical and generous gift, but there is room to misconstrue its true meaning and depth. During shibud Mitzraim, Moshe asked Pharaoh to give him at least one day a week off so bnei Yisroel would be able to keep up their strength and rejuvenate themselves. The truth is, however, that this is not the focal point of Shabbos. Rather shabbos is a time for menuchas hanefesh and it’s the yesod of emunah, as we say in Kiddush ‘os hi beini u’veneichem’. In the first set of aseres hadibros, we were commanded to keep Shabbos when were in the midbar. There was no ‘work-week’ in the midabar, and we were sustained through constant miracles. We didn’t need a break from work and it was at that time, when we were in the desert, that we kept Shabbos like we were supposed to. Not because we worked hard, and were tired and not because we realized we needed a break from the whole week. We kept Shabbos because we were commanded to do so. That was our only reason and that was the example of bnei Yisroel keeping Shabbos like they were supposed to. This is why it says a loshon of ‘k’asher tzivcha’. The Torah is telling us to keep Shabbos because Hashem commanded us to. Not because of our physical cheshbonos and exhaustion, but because of the spiritual power of the day, and because it is a mitzvah.

The same lesson is applicable to the commandment of honoring one’s parents. We can say that it’s normal for a person to respect his parents. After all, they raised him, educated him, brought him up properly, paid for all his expenses, fed him, clothed him, funded all his trips, maybe even went beyond what we consider these basics with luxuries and a life of ease. It is easy for one to think that this mitzvah is a logical commandment. The truth is, though, even if your parents didn’t get you the car or they didn’t fund your vacations and they didn’t do half the things they promised, you would still have to respect and honor them. Why? Because the pasuk says you were commanded to do so. In the midbar did your parents cloth you? No. Did they feed you? No. All our food, clothing, and physical needs were straight from Hashem. So it couldn’t have been that they honored their parents because of what they ‘gave’ to them. And yet they were honoring them. So it has to be they were doing so because that’s what Hashem commanded them to do.

That’s the pshat in this loshon. Kibbud av is not because of hakaras hatov. It is because we were commanded to do so. This is what the Torah is emphasizing here. Do the mitzvah like you were originally commanded to, like they did it in marah- for the sake of a mitzvah.

Many a time we often find ourselves in a position where we do chessed because it is convenient and easy. But how many times do any of us really go out of our way for someone else? For a small chessed or for a favor? For someone who’s not your friend? Doing the mitzvah because you were commanded to do it is extra special to Hashem. Try taking someone out of your way when you’re in a rush. It might be extremely frustrating, but only the first time. Then you realize the little time-minutes- that you are losing in exchange for doing a mitzvah. It’s a whole different approach to things-try it. It is extra special to Hashem when you do a mitzvah bein adam l’chaveiro not because it seems ‘nice’, but because it is a commandment.

May we all be zoche to be mekayeim the mitzvohs to its fullest and for the reason no other than ‘k’asher tzivcha hashem elokecha’.