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Shmirat Shabbat

ב שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִים֘ תֵּֽעָשֶׂ֣ה מְלָאכָה֒ וּבַיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י יִֽהְיֶ֨ה לָכֶ֥ם קֹ֛דֶשׁ שַׁבַּ֥ת שַׁבָּת֖וֹן לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה כָּל־הָֽעֹשֶׂ֥ה ב֛וֹ מְלָאכָ֖ה יוּמָֽת:

ג לֹֽא־תְבַֽעֲר֣וּ אֵ֔שׁ בְּכֹ֖ל מֽשְׁבֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם בְּי֖וֹם הַשַּׁבָּֽת:

2 Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have sanctity, a day of complete rest to the Lord; whoever performs work thereon [on this day] shall be put to death.

3 You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwelling places on the Sabbath day. (Shmot 35:2-3)


In the beginning of Parshat Vayakhel-Pikudei, we see an additional reminder of the importance of observing Shabbat. Not only is the mitzvah of Shabbat included here, but also the punishment for breaking shabbat (hillul Shabbat) - which is death.


Rashi comments that the repetition of the mitzvah of Shabbat is added here, just before the explanation about building the mishkan, to serve as a reminder that the commandment to build the mishkan does NOT override shmirat Shabbat.


Furthermore, one specific restriction of Shabbat is singled out - the prohibition of lighting a fire. This prohibition has been misunderstood by the Karaites to mean that there should be no fire at all on Shabbat, in stark contrast to the mitzvah of lighting candles just before Shabbat.


The reminder of the mitzvah of Shabbat in this week’s parsha follows a similar reminder in the previous parsha, Ki Tisa. Like in this week’s Parsha, in Ki Tisa, the reminder is right next to a discussion about building the mishkan, and the warning of the death penalty is again included. Ki Tisa also describes how Bnei Yisrael kept Shabbat, and how Shabbat is a covenant between God and Bnei Yisrael. It’s interesting to note that this reminder is added just before the sin of the golden calf. Even though Bnei Yisrael committed a terrible sin, that did not stop them from observing Shabbat, highlighting the importance of Shabbat for the people.


One additional note: Included in the commandment to observe Shabbat, is the commandment to work for 6 days prior to resting on the seventh. Building the mishkan was definitely strenuous work, and often other mitzvot are as well. Additionally, one has to provide for their family, and involves himself in these efforts all week long. But on Shabbat, we take a break from these mundane and often difficult tasks so that we may truly rest and enjoy Shabbat. This way, we can look forward to, and remember Shabbat all week long.

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