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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Ki Sisa(66)

This week's sedra begins by continuing with the laws of the Mishkan, then repeats the laws of the Sabbath and then tells us of the terrible sin of the Golden Calf. We will look at a Rashi regarding the verse relating to the Sabbath.

Exodus 31:15

Six days work may be done and on the seventh it is a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to Hashem; whoever does work on the day of the Sabbath shall be put to death.


A Sabbath of complete rest: A rest of comfort not a transient rest.


The comment is clear. Rashi is relating to the double words in Hebrew : "Shabbat shabbaton" which is here translated as "A Sabbath of complete rest".

He says the double words means "a rest of comfort."


One of the commentaries on Rashi, the Be'er Yitzchak, explains this as follows. There are several types of rest or days off.

1) When a person has no work, as is the case when one is unemployed, this "rest day" is annoying, because one would rather work, even though the day is free to do as he wishes. It is still not restful.

2) A day when one rests (sleeps) because one is tired from working so much. This is a "transient rest" because it serves only as a catching up, getting one's strength back to be able to work some more.

3) A complete rest. This is rest for its own sake. No worries of getting back to work; no tension for having nothing to do; no thoughts of wasting time - just resting in comfort. This is the rest our verse refers to.

How does one do that? How does one achieve such a Nirvana?

Hint: See the rest of the verse?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The verse goes on to say "holy to Hashem." The Torah is telling us that a Shabbat which is to Hashem is the real rest, a complete rest. This means a day spent in prayer, in studying and discussing Torah. A day with festive family meals, which are "decorated" with song and words of Torah. This is an active day, which is a true break from the daily work we must perform during the six days of the week. It is a day of positive action, whose activities and involvements are on a higher level than those of the weekdays. Such a rest, which is not an escape from the mundane but an attraction to the holy - such a day affords a true rest.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."

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