Sunday, November 29, 2009

How Does One Keep Shabbos?

It is a given that a Jew must learn the laws of Shabbath to be able to remember, keep, honor and enjoy the day of rest that G-d gave to His one and only chosen nation. I highly recommend Rav Yehoshua Y. Neuwirth’s sefer/book Shemirath Shabbath, a guide to the practical observance of Shabbath. (see excerpt below)

Psalm 147:19-20 He relates His words to Jacov, His statutes and judgments to Israel. He did not do so for any other nation; such judgments they know not. Hallelukah!

How blessed the Jews are to have the commandments of G-d. We are a holy people, chosen nation (Deut. 14:2), a light to the nations (Isaiah 60:2-3; , a royal priesthood, a peculiar people (Deut 14:2)– no other nation/religion has been chosen by G-d to be His Servant. How beautiful indeed is our heritage!

Deuteronomy 14:2For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

Isaiah 60:2-3 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and a thick darkness the nations. But G-d Will Shine upon you. Nations shall then go by your Light and kings by your radiant illumination.

Maimonides, in Mishneh Torah, Hilchoth Shabbath, broadly categorizes the laws of Shabbath in the following way: “Four commands were given regarding Shabbath, two by the Torah and two by the Rabbis, which [later] were expressed by the Prophet Isaiah,

A. Those of Torah,
1. ‘Remember [the Shabbath day’ (Exodus 20:8)] זכור and
2. ‘Keep [the Shabbath day’ (Deuteronomy 5:12)] שמור, and
B. Those which were expressed by the Prophet,
1. Honoring [Shabbath] כבוד and
2. Enjoying [Shabbath] עונג,
In the verse [Isaiah 58:13],’…call Shabbath a joy, [call] G-d’s sanctified [day] honored….’’’

A. How does one “remember” Shabbath? זכור
1. a) The verse from Exodus 20:8 reads in full, “Remember the Shabbath day to sanctify it”; that is to say, remember it in praise and sanctification.
b) This is a positive commandment to sanctify the Shabbath day in words.
2. One remembers it
a) at its commencement, with Kiddush, and,
b) at its termination, with Havdalah

A. How does one “keep” Shabbath?
1. Refraining from forbidden activities on Shabbath is a positive commandment, contained in the words, “…and on the seventh day you shall rest” (Exodus 23:12)
2. Engaging in a forbidden activity on Shabbath is prohibited by the words, “you shall not carry out any [forbidden] activity” (Exodus 20:10).
3. Thus, somebody who performs a forbidden activity on Shabbath transgresses both
a. A positive commandment and
b. A prohibitory injunction

B. “Work” – a misunderstood concept
1. Activities which are forbidden on Shabbath are by no means synonymous with what we would consider hard work.
2. This can be illustrated by the fact that
a. Someone who spends the whole day moving furniture around his house does not infringe any Torah prohibition, whereas
b. Someone who carries a sewing needle out of his house into a public thoroughfare is guilty of such and infringement

C. The Chief Activities and Derivative Activities
1. The categories of forbidden activities were revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai,
2. They consist of
a. The thirty-nine Chief Activities which were required when the Tabernacle was constructed and
b. Derivative Activities which are similar to the Chief Activities in the ways detailed in paragraph E. below
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