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The Fourth Commandment - Shabbat

"More than Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews." Ahad Ha'am

Shabbat is one of the most important institutions in Judaism, and is observed by Jews throughout the world as a day of rest, worship, and celebration. The Shabbat is considered to be a time of spiritual renewal and a way of remembering the creation of the world and the Exodus from Egypt.


The Jewish people have always placed great importance on observing the Shabbat, and it has been a central part of Jewish life for thousands of years. The Shabbat is considered to be a gift from God, and its observance is seen as a way of honoring God and expressing gratitude for all of God's blessings.


In addition to providing a time for rest and worship, the Shabbat is also seen as a time for spending with family and friends. The Shabbat meal is an important family time, as well as a great opportunity to invite guests, fulfilling the mitzva of hachnasat orchim. For Many Jews Shabbat has become the center of their religious, communal and family lives.


The Shabbat is also considered to be a time of spiritual elevation, and many Jews use the day to focus on their inner lives, to reflect on the meaning and purpose of their lives, and to develop a deeper relationship with God. The act of keeping the Shabbat is seen as a way of sanctifying time and creating a sense of separation between the ordinary activities of life and the sacred realm of spirituality and worship.


Overall, the Shabbat is a central and beloved aspect of Jewish life, and is a source of inspiration, joy, and renewal for Jews everywhere. Whether in the synagogue, at home, or in the community, the Shabbat is seen as a time of rest, worship, and renewal that brings Jews closer to God and to one another.


זָכוֹר֩ אֶת־י֨וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֜ת לְקַדְּשׁ֗וֹ: שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֣ים תַּֽעֲבֹד֘ וְעָשִׂ֣יתָ כָל־מְלַאכְתֶּךָ֒: וְי֨וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֜י שַׁבָּ֣ת | לַֽה' אֱלֹהֶ֗יךָ לֹ֣א תַֽעֲשֶׂ֣ה כָל־מְלָאכָ֡ה אַתָּ֣ה | וּבִנְךָ֣־וּ֠בִתֶּךָ עַבְדְּךָ֨ וַֽאֲמָֽתְךָ֜ וּבְהֶמְתֶּ֗ךָ וְגֵֽרְךָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בִּשְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ: כִּ֣י שֵֽׁשֶׁת־יָמִים֩ עָשָׂ֨ה ה' אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֶת־הַיָּם֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֔ם וַיָּ֖נַח בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֑י עַל־כֵּ֗ן בֵּרַ֧ךְ ה' אֶת־י֥וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖ת וַֽיְקַדְּשֵֽׁהוּ:


Here in Parshat Yitro, the text uses the verb "remember" (זָכוֹר), while later on, in Parshat V’Etchanan, the test uses "keep" (שָמוֹר). Rashi interpreted the two verbs, זָכוֹר and שָמוֹר, as referring to two different aspects of observing the Sabbath.


According to Rashi, the verb "remember" (זָכוֹר) refers to the idea of actively remembering the Sabbath day through acts of holiness and devotion. This could include performing good deeds, engaging in prayer or study, or preparing for the Sabbath in a special way.


The verb "keep" (שָמוֹר), on the other hand, refers to the idea of passively keeping the Sabbath day holy by abstaining from work and other activities that might violate its sanctity. This could include refraining from lighting fire, traveling, or engaging in commerce.


By linking these two verbs together, Rashi underscores the importance of both actively engaging with the Sabbath and passively observing its holiness. In his view, both are essential components of properly remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy.

  • Ramban (Nachmanides): "Remember the Sabbath day" - that is, to observe it properly and to sanctify it by abstaining from labor. (Commentary on the Torah, Exodus 20:8)

  • Ramabam (Maimonides): "Remember the Sabbath day" - to remember its holiness, to give it its due, and to prepare for it from the beginning of the week. (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Shabbat 1:3)


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