Past Weekly Shabbat Message
(Torah Portion Yisro) Truthful Double Talk
“Don’t you remember me?” Josh exclaimed as he tried to catch the attention of the person who was heading towards him at a function. By the expressionless look on the man’s face, Josh saw that he had no clue of who he was.
Josh excitedly began, “About twenty five years ago, I placed an ad in the local paper to sell my dinette set. You answered the ad and came over to our home to look at the set.
“In a moment you recognized that I was Jewish and we became engaged in a conversation about Judaism. We spoke about the communities in which we were both raised, our affiliation, our children’s education etc. We got so occupied in the discussion, we nearly forgot to pay attention to the dinette set.”
“In the midst of the conversation, I mentioned to you that I was Shomer Shabbat… for nine months out of the year. As for the other three months, I explained that I coached my son’s little league football team whose games were held on Shabbat. I teasingly quipped, ‘Nine out of twelve months – aren’t that bad.’”
“Your response was short but powerful, ‘Football will continue with or without you; however, without a total commitment to Shabbat, the continuity of Yiddishkeit for you and your family is in serious jeopardy. Think it over; which one do you think is more important?’”
Josh then continued, “You wound up buying the dinette set and shlepped it out of the house. But your logical words remained with me. I discussed it with my wife, and we decided that our family’s continuation to the link of our illustrious past is far more important than the football game. A short while later we became fully Shomer Shabbat as a result of your kind and thoughtful words, and your genuine interest in a fellow Jew.”
In our Parsha, the Torah narrates the great one time event of G-d’s Revelation at Mount Sinai, when He spoke to the nation, proclaimed the Ten Commandments, and gave us the Torah.
The Talmud tells us that this awesome occurrence took place on the Shabbat!
The Shem Mishmuel explains that the Revelation occurred on Shabbat to signify that the holiness of Shabbat is what enabled the giving of the Torah to the Jews.
Even before the Jews accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai, they had already been given the laws of Shabbat and observed it.
Thus, we can appreciate why the Shabbat is the root and foundation of Judaism and the key to our continuity.
Often, we are inspired by something we hear about the uniqueness, beauty and advantage of Shabbat that motivates us to be more attentive to its honor and holiness. Why is that so?
The Talmud teaches us that when G-d proclaimed the fourth commandment, He miraculously caused Israel to hear simultaneously the two complimentary aspects of the Shabbat commandment; Shamor – safeguard – to avoid the desecration of Shabbat, and Zachor – remember – to keep Shabbat in our mind and hearts and to give verbal expression to its holiness. G-d and only G-d can express two words concurrently, and He did so in the command of Shabbat. Perhaps, because of the extraordinary verbal communication associated with Shabbat, we become especially inspired through hearing about the uniqueness and exclusivity of the Shabbat.
It is interesting that the Prophet Isaiah called on Israel to strengthen the spirit of Shabbat by avoiding, “Talking the talk,” on Shabbat. Our Sages explain, “Your Shabbat talk should not be like your weekday talk.” This means avoiding business-related talk on Shabbat. Shabbat affords us the freedom not to pay attention to the regular grind that preoccupies us during the rest of the week.
Isaiah continues, “When you will keep the Shabbat in letter and spirit – only then will you feel the true delight of being close to the Almighty.”
Our Sages tell us, “Whoever makes the Shabbat pleasurable – by spending his money liberally to make Shabbat as enjoyable and pleasurable as possible - will be given the reward of an inheritance without boundaries!”
Wishing you a most restful, uplifting, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks
Rabbi Dovid Saks