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זכור את יום השבת לקדשו.
(שמות כ׳ ח׳)

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
(Exodus 20:8)

This week we read עשרת הדברות the Ten Commandments. These are repeated in פ' ואתחנן, with some minor variations, the most obvious and famous of which is opening word of the fourth commandment, שבת.

As quoted above, in our Parsha, it says Zachor es yom ha-Shabbos le-kadsho - "Remember the Sabbath day to make it holy", whereas in P' Va'eschanan (Deut. 5:12) it says שמור את יום השבת לקדשו - Shamor es yom ha-Shabbos le-kadsho - "Guard the Sabbath day to make it holy". Rashi cites the Gemara that both words were uttered and heard simultaneously - an idea that R' Shlomo Alkabetz captured in the first verse of the Lecha Dodi song that is part of our Friday night prayers (..שמור וזכור בדיבור אחד).

The Ramban explains that these words represent מצוות עשה and מצוות לא תעשה - the positive and negative aspects of Shabbos, respectively. Shabbos is comprised of both, simultaneously - we are commanded both to rest from creative work, through the various prohibitions, and also to sanctify the day - by making Kiddush and Havdala, for instance, which the Gemara derives from the word Zachor, "remember".

The Ramban asks, why didn’t the Torah write both expressions together explicitly - "Zachor V'Shamor"? And he explains beautifully, Mitzvos asei - positive mitzvot - are performed out of love of Hashem, and not out of fear. Negative injunctions are performed out of fear of punishment. This he says, is why we have the principle of esei docheh lo sa'asei - when a positive commandment collides with a prohibition, the positive command "pushes off" the negative (in the case of linen tzitzis on a wool garment, for instance). Zachor is mentioned first, without shamor, to emphasize the idea that the ideal way to perform the mitzvah is purely out of love.

Meshech Chochmah explains that one purpose of our keeping Shabbos is to testify that God created the world in six days and ceased from creative activity on Shabbos. Another reason is to give people a day off from work, enabling them to direct their attention solely to spiritual pursuits.

In the desert, where the Bnei Yisrael did not work for a living because they received the מן (Manna) daily, they spent all of their time studying the Torah in great depth. For them, Shabbos was not needed as a day off to learn and immerse in spirituality. Its main purpose was to testify that God created the world. This is why the Ten Commandments in our Parsha emphasize Zachor, i.e. remember that God created the world.

In P' Va'eschanan, when Moshe is reviewing the Mitzvos, just weeks prior to the Bnei Yisrael's entry into the land of Israel, the other reason for Shabbos had to be accentuated. The people were about to conquer the land, where they would begin a new life of agriculture and industry. They needed to appreciate that Shabbos would provide them with an opportunity to recharge their spiritual batteries, to energize them for the week ahead. The Torah therefore emphasized Shamor, to observe the Shabbos prohibitions so that Shabbos becomes a truly spiritual encounter, without distractions.


The Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos, 30:1) writes, There are four things said of Shabbos; two from the Torah and two from Divrei Sofrim that are elucidated by the Prophets. From the Torah, Shamor and Zachor; and elucidated by the Prophets, Kavod and Oneg, as it says (Yishayahu 58:13), וקראת לשבת ענג לקדוש ה׳ מכבד - "and you called the Sabbath, 'a delight' - the holy day of Hashem, 'honored' ".

Rav Y.D. Soleveitchik noted that this language of the Rambam is very telling; apparently kavod and oneg Shabbos are more than just Rabbinic ordinances - they are really Mitzvos D'Oraisa. He says that they are expanding on the ideas of Shamor and Zachor - that we should actively give honor to and find delight in the Sabbath.

The Gra says that Kavod refers to things that are done before Shabbos, in its honor, while Oneg refers to the things that one enjoys on the day itself. So, the festive meals, an extra measure of sleep and the like fall under the designation of oneg, and all the Shabbos preparations are actually part of the mitzva of Shabbos as well, in the category of kavod. The Gemara (Shabbos 119a) goes to great lengths to describe the ways that the great Rabbis would involve themselves in preparation for Shabbos: shopping, carrying bundles, splitting wood, fanning the fire, roasting, and salting.. The Rambam says that even an "important person" who wouldn't normally go to the shuk himself, is required to do so in honor of Shabbos. One is also required to bathe and to dress in special clothes before the Sabbath queen arives. The Shulchan Orech says that one should not change into weekday clothes until after Melave Malka on Motzei Shabbat.

That verse in Yishayau concludes: וכבדתו מעשות דרכיך ממצוא חפצך ולדבר דבר - ".. and you honor it from going on your way, from pursuing your affairs and speaking words".

The Gemara describes how each phrase teaches other ways in which we honor the Sabbath. mei-asos derachecha teaches that even "hiluchach te-hei be-nachas" - one should walk at a leisurely pace. Mimtzo cheftzecha - one should avoid dealing with things related to workweek business. u-le'daber davar - one should not even speak of other things (i.e. about business dealings or what one plans to do after Shabbos is over). There is even a Rabbinic decree against telling a non-Jew (who is not obligated in Shabbos prohibitions) to do things that are forbidden to you.

The next verse continues: "Then, you shall delight with the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the land, and I will give you to eat the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

And indeed, Chazal say (Sh'mos Rabbah 25:12) that if Israel would keep just one Shabbos properly, we would be redeemed immediately.

Posted by joem on Feb 10, 2007 7:30 pm

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