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   by Jacob Solomon

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On the Sabbath Day you shall offer (the communal additional offering) two perfectly unblemished one-year-old lambs, with a two-tenths measure of flour mixed with oil, and its drink-offering (28:9-10).

On two occasions the Torah presents the Sabbath and Festivals together. The first time, it forms the content of Leviticus 23. There it goes into details about the practices of the holy days, but refers to the Festival korban mussaf - additional offering relatively briefly.

This week's parasha states some (though far fewer) details of non-Temple aspects of the laws of festive occasion. For example Sukkot is described as a time of 'holy assembly… you shall not do any work' (29:12), but neither the sukkah nor the arba minim get a mention. But here, in this Parasha, the emphasis is on the details of the korban mussaf - for Shabbat, Rosh-Chodesh, and the Festivals.

The exception, however, is Shabbat. Shabbat is the only day where work is forbidden, yet whose practices other than in the Temple do not get a mention at all. Whereas in the first presentation the Shabbat is described with: 'These are My Festivals: Your work shall be done for six days. On the seventh day is Shabbat, a day of rest, and you shall not do any manner of work…' (Lev 23:2-3), in this parasha, there is no reference to any non-Temple practice at all.

The following reason may be suggested for the absence of issur melacha - the prohibition of working in this parasha. Its absence is there to give us the following insight into the very nature of Shabbat itself.

For Shabbat does not exist in isolation. It is part of something bigger: as the first presentation recounts:

'Your work shall be done for six days. The seventh day is Shabbat, a day of rest, and you shall not do any manner of work…'

The days of the week and the Sabbath are symbiotic - they do not exist on their own, but each works to greatly enhance the other. As stated:

'The Israelites shall observe the Sabbath… for in six days G-d created the Heavens and the Earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed' (Ex. 31:16-17).

Such is the rhythm of G-d's creation. Those at the top of the pyramid of the Creation - the people who have accepted His Laws and Teachings - work in harmony with His rhythm. As He operates in a ration of six to one, so His people operate in a ratio of six to one. That is built in to the Creation. During the week they are involved in creative and proactive activity. On the seventh they return to their source and are spiritually refreshed. And the laws and practices of Shabbat are there to create a framework for this to happen.

Indeed, the Sabbath does not stand on its own. The blessing inherent in the Sabbath comes from the six days of work during the week - each person striving to make the world in his own way a little bit better, in his own individual way. (One dentist puts it this way: 'I improve the earth - tooth by tooth'.) In that way they become partners with G-d in the Creation - a continuing force for positive change…

It is from these forces that the contrasting Shabbat gets its blessing. It is the six days of work that make the Shabbat possible. It is the constructive work in the week that makes the Shabbat the unique spiritual 'refreshment' that it, whose experience and blessing enriches yet the next week.

This week's parasha talks about Shabbat in isolation. Not in the context of Shabbat as the crown of the week. The korban mussaf fits in even within the context of Shabbat 'on its own'. But its practices and prohibitions fit in only when Shabbat is viewed in the context of the six days of Creation.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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