Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
e-mail yosil@MNSi.net

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Shemot (Exodus) 30:11-34:35
Maftir: Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-19
Haftorah - I Kings 18:1-39

After the Torah discusses at length the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) it then commands: "Hashem said to Moshe, saying: 'You shall speak to the Children of Israel saying: [Akh Et Shabtotai Tishmoru] However, you must observe My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you for all your generations, to know that I am Hashem, who makes you holy.' " (Shemot 33:12-13)

Rashi (an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, France, 1040 - 1105) teaches that though the construction of the Mishkan is very important, it may not be used as an excuse to desecrate the Sabbath.

The Ramban (an acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Nachum [Nachmanides], Gerona, Spain, 1194-1270) explains that usually the Hebrew word AKH (however) is used as a narrowing of qualifications, i.e., it would normally set limits to the holiness of the Sabbath. But here it obviously comes to teach us, as Rashi indicates, that the Sabbath cannot be desecrated, EVEN to build the Tabernacle.

His question has many answers but the Sokatchover Rebbe (Rabbi Avraham Borenstein, 1830-1910, author of Shem M'Shmuel - a commentary on the Torah with Chassidic and Kabbalistic overtones) gives us a very important insight. True, the word Akh (however) normally does narrowly qualify the meaning. But here the qualification is in the Mishkan and not the Sabbath. If the Sabbath is desecrated by the displayed zeal of building Hashem's home swiftly, the building will have been done in vain. "Hence, if the observance of the Sabbath is an essential prerequisite for the sanctity of the Mishkan, it stands to reason that the Shabbat takes precedence over the construction.

This may best be illustrated by a story from the Talmud (Shabbat 119a). "Caesar once asked of Rabbi Yehuda bar Chaninah, 'Why does the food served on the Sabbath give forth so appetizing a fragrance?' Rabbi Yehuda replied, 'We have a certain ingredient call 'the Sabbath,' which gives the food its pleasant fragrance.' The Caesar said, 'Let me have some of it.' Rabbi Yehuda explained, 'It is of use to those who observe the Sabbath, but for those who do not [observe the Sabbath], it does no good.' "

One of the fundamental principals of life is - "You get what you put into it." The pleasure that one receives is in direct proportion to the effort that is expended in acquiring anything of value, it is the basis of the Laws of Economics. This principle gives us a tool to gauge the value of our lives and the acquisition of all that we possess. Therefore when Caesar inquired of the makeup of the "spice" of Shabbat food, Rabbi Yehuda correctly replied as he did. To benefit from the "spice" of Shabbat, one must participate in Shabbat observance.

Shabbat is the guiding light of Judaism. It is the spice of the whole Torah. Without it, Judaism is reduced to but another belief system. But, with the proper observance of Shabbat, Judaism is transformed into a way of life. Anyone, even Caesar can taste the essence of Shabbat even in such mundane objects as food. But attempting to reproduce such a dish, without adding the observance of Shabbat to spice it properly, is reduced to an exercise in futility.

Would you be interested in acquiring the spice of life itself? Begin with the total observance of Shabbat, you don't know what you're missing.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig

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