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Monday, January 17, 2011

Yisro, Shemos 20:11. Ki Sheishes Yamim. Why Isn't Shabbos a Universal Mitzvah?

Shabbos commemorates the creation of the universe — “כי ששת ימים עשה...על כן בירך ". In Va’eschanan, Devorim 5:15, Shabbos is also associated with the exodus from Mitzrayim— “וזכרת כי עבד היית...על כן ציוך"

Reb Meir Simcha In Parshas Va’eschanan asks: Hashem's creation of the world is not specific to the Jewish people.  Since Shabbos was intended to memorialize the creation, it should be universal, observed by all mankind. Why, then, is the opposite true; not only is Shemiras Shabbos not obligatory for non-Jews, it is even prohibited to them.  A non-Jew's observance of the Shabbos through shemirah is considered transgressive; עכו'ם ששבת חייב מיתה (Sanhedrin 58b)  In Shemoneh Esrei of Friday night, we stress this exclusionary nature; "ולא הנחלתו מלכנו לעובדי פסילים וגם במנוחתו לא ישכנו ערלים."

Here are eight good answers to this question.  Please note that this is not a purely academic discussion, though there would be nothing wrong with that.  The answers highlight the nature of Shabbos, and can enhance our appreciation of its Kedusha.

{R Meir Simcha’s teretz:} when we commemorate the creation of the universe, we are saying that it was not, as Deists believe, a momentary nexus between G-d and the universe during which matter was created and the laws of nature set into motion, and then left on its own forever.  We believe that the universe has purpose and a destiny, and its Creator is constantly involved in His work through “mechadeish betuvo bechol yom tamid ma’aseh breishis’- He renews the creation every day - and hashgachas Hashem, Divine Providence. Our testimony to briyas ha’olam is very different than simple eidus of sheishes yamim of creation and a day of rest. Only we, who experienced yetzias Mitzrayim, which demonstrated Hashgachas Hashem, can testify from our own experience that the creation was purposeful and that Hashem continues to intervene and direct nature towards that divine purpose. Our national history, our personal experience of ongoing suffering and redemption, continually demonstrates Divine Providence.  A gentile shemiras Shabbos, even by Chachmei Umos Ha'Olam, would be testimony to something they never experienced and which they cannot experience, and it would be, in a sense, a falsehood. (The Sfas Emes in Parshas Bo brings from the RI'M that the Asara Ma’amaros she’bahem nivra ha’olam, the ten utterances that created the world, were transfigured to become the Eser Makkos, the ten plagues, and then the Aseres Hadibros, the Ten Commandments. If you think about it for a moment, you will realize that this approach is consistent with R Meir Simcha, in that the three events were intimately related and naturally consequential.)

{Reb Moshe’s teretz:} Reb Moshe, in the first volume of Kol Rom, on Shemos 20:2, brings the Ibn Ezra who asks that the Aseres Hadibros should have begun with briyas ha’olam and not yetzias Mitzrayim. Instead of asher hotzeisicha, it should say "Anochi Hashem Elokecha ashe barasi es ha'olam.  He answers that awareness of briyas ha’olam is not as important as awareness of continued hashgachah, similar to Reb Meir Simcha.
In Kol Rom 3 on page 103, he directly asks Reb Meir Simcha’s question, and says another answer: The word “tohu” is used in Ma’aseh breishis to describe the chaotic state of the universe before it was given any form.  The Gemara that says that the first two thousand years of the briyah are characterized as “tohu”, primordial chaos, because the Torah was only learned by individuals.  Only after Avraham, who taught the world and had three hundred talmidim, did the millennia of ‘Torah’ begin, which ended the years of ‘tohu’.  So, if a world without Torah is Tohu, it must be that without Torah, the briyah is not finished. Therefore, it is only with yetzias Mitzrayim, which was letzorech matan Torah, that the briyah was truly complete. The reason the world the is Tohu before Mattan Torah is because the creation was conditional: if you accept the Torah, the world will continue to exist, and if not, it will disintegrate.  Since the Creation was conditional, and Torah is the fulfillment of the condition, and Yetzias Mitzrayim was for the purpose of Mattan torah, eidus of the briyah has to include eidus of Yetzias Mitzrayim/matan Torah.

{The Sfas Emes’ teretz:} The Sfas Emes in Shemos 16:29 brings a Zohar which apparently answers this question, by saying that every day has a malbush but not Shabbos, which is Malchus, which only we can be zoche to because we were nizdacheich through yetzias Mitzrayim. (I only mention this because I know it means something to people who learn this aspect of Torah, even though I'm not among them.)

{Ponevezher Rov’s teretz:} The sefer Mishulchan Gavo’ah in Vayikra parshas Emor brings the following vort from the Ponevizher Rov: Shabbos is not just isur melacha. It is the chemdas hayamim, a yom machmadim. It has a kedusha like the kedusha of the mishkan, which was a separate reshus, unique on Earth. Similarly, Shabbos is a time that is unique and separate from all other time. Yisraelim are kodesh— when they create their family and lay the foundation of their home life, they do it with the words ‘mekudeshes li’. Therefore, they can enter into the holy domain of Shabbos. A gentile's unwillingness to accept the will of Hashem contradicts the idea of Shabbos. His observance of Shabbos is a trespass, a falsehood, and a negation of the Shabbos. Maybe the idea is like the din of a korban— that eating the korban is mishulchan gavoha. Only certain people are given the right to eat the korbon, and if someone who is not allowed to eats it he is ne’enash. Although every Yisroel agrees with the idea of korbanos, and is happy to participate in any way he can in the hekdesh, if a Yisroel eats kodshei kodashim, he is punished. The oneg of shevisa on Shabbos is holy, and is like a korbon, and so an akum that partakes of it is like an akum– or a zor– who eats a korban. This pshat is consistent with the rishonim that explain the chiyuv missah of an Akum sheshavas as being based on their issur of gezel, and it also adds that it is gezel of kodshim, a form of gezel that is called me’ilah.
In short, shemiras Shabbos is an act of communion with the kedusha of Shabbos and with Hashem. It is not something that is lying hefker and available to whoever wants it. The ability to participate in shemiras Shabbos is like the meat of korbanos- it is a gift from the Ribono shel Olam to people who have dedicated their lives to Avodas Hashem.

{Rav Hutner’s ha’ara:} The Pachad Yitzchak in the volume on Pesach, in Siman 27, brings that Rashi in Yevamos 48b says that the passuk of “veyinafeish ben amosecha vehageir” means that an akum that does not keep Shabbos is punished, because not-keeping Shabbos is like avodah zara! Tosfos, of course, argues and says that he is not allowed to keep Shabbos. Rav Hutner explains that Rashi must hold like those that say that a geir toshav is mechayev himself to keep the 7 mitzvos in the same manner and with the same philosophical appraoch as a Yisroel keeps those 7 mitzvos, and since for us chillul Shabbos is considered to be like avoda zora, the same applies to him. Therefore, for a geir toshov, chillul shabbos is avoda zora, and he is chayav for the issur of avoda zora. He also brings Rashi in Beitza 16 regarding the fact that goyim will be ne’enash for not keeping Shabbos.

{Harav Reuven Feinstein:}  The first luchos say zachor and mention briyas ha’olam. The second ones say shamor and mention Mitzrayim. Gentiles  should commemorate/zachor Shabbos and are certainly not ne’enash for doing so. But shamor means issur melachah. The issur melachah only applies to Yisrael, because of our status as avdei Hashem that He acquired by taking us out of Mitzrayim. The purpose of the issur melacha is to show that all our work is only to do what our master commands, and when he commands us to stop, we must stop. In fact, the issur melacha only has a associative connection with briyas ha’olom. The causative basis for it is only yetzias Mitzrayim. So an akum that is shoveis from melacha because of Shabbos is saying eidus sheker by claiming to be an eved of Hashem. He may choose to serve Hashem, but he is not His kinyan, His avadim, as we are.

{My teretz:} Shabbos is testimony that the Ribbono shel Olam created the world. A non-Jew has a different idea of what the Ribbono shel Olam is. If he were to keep Shabbos, he would be stating that his-idea-of-God created the world, which is, of course, eidus sheker. And even a geir toshav– if he understood what the Ribbono shel Olam is, he would be misgahyer. His unwillingness to be misgayeir shows that he has a false image of Hashem.  I know it's often said that all monotheist believe in the same God.  It's not true.  How do we define an individual person, how do we distinguish him from other individuals?  By saying that this one does a certain job, has a certain temper, familial relations, preferences and tastes.  Similarly, we 'identify' God by imagining His characteristics, and different religions define those characteristics so disparately that they simply do not identify the same thing at all.  (When I posted this in its original form, in January of 08, LkwdGuy pointed out that a Geir Toshav cannot keep shabbos; it is not among his seven mitzvos.  He asked, since a Geir Toshav accepts the Torah, as the Rambam says, he obviously understands Hashem as we do, so his eidus is no different than ours.  I tried to anticipate and avoid the kashe here, but it's still a good point.  But see what I bring from the Magen Avraham at the end of the post, which answers his kashe.)

{Rabbi Dr. Gary Schreiber:}  The nachash told Chavah that if one eats from the Etz hadaas they will become k'Elokim. However, rather than becoming G-dlike, Chava ate from the etz and was contaminated with zuhama. What happened to the becoming G-dlike? In addition to the etz haddaas was the Etz Hachayim. Initially Adam was not instructed to avoid the etz Hachayim. It was only because he ate from the Etz Hadaas first that he was then forbidden to partake of the Etz Hachaim. DGS suggested that the Etz Hachaim is chachmas ha'Torah and the Etz Hadaas is chochmas ha'olam. By partaking of chachmas ha'aolam prior to chachmas ha'Torah, mankind became contaminated and was no longer able to appreciate the full breadth of Torah. Had he partaken of the etz Hachayim first, he may have been allowed or instructed to partake of the etz hadaas later. By going out of sequence he erred gravely and lost his ability to become a full shutaf with HKBH.  Scientists will tell you that science is amoral. Knowledge is its own good. But this is not true in real life. We must know Torah before engaging in worldly matters so that we can maintain a Torah perspective as we approach the world. The results of unrestrained secular knowledge lead to nuclear holocaust, unrestrained genetic engineering etc. That zuhama was only removed at Matan Torah. We can become shutfim with HKBH in some sense because we have the Torah to guide us. So it is only Yiddin who can become (limited) partners with HKBH who have the full mitzvah of Shabbos.

1. {R Meir Simcha’s teretz:} our eidus is on hashgacha pratis and m’chadeish b’tuvo.
2. {Reb Moshe’s teretz:} before the kiyum hatnai of YM→ MT, the world was really tohu, and since Bri'as Ha'olam includes matan Torah, eidus on the Bri'ah must include eidus on Matan Torah. If you don't keep the mitzvos, you can't say eidus on Matan Torah. Eidus is not just eidus; it is participation in the kiyum ha'olam through kabbalas and kiyum hatorah.
3. {The Sfas Emes’ teretz:} who knows.
4. {Ponevezher Rov’s teretz:} Shabbos has kedushas korban, and it’s assur l’zahr.
5. {Rav Hutner’s he’arah:} Beitza 16 and Yevamos 48 that an akum is ne’enash for not keeping it.
6. {Rav Reuven Feinstein’s teretz:} they can do zachor, but shamor is only for the avadim Hashem was koneh.
7. {My excellent teretz:} their eidus is that their god created the world.
8. {R' D' GS:} Shemiras Shabbos is the key that enables us to join HKBH in creating the world, in changing the world through knowledge and action. This is only possible when one has accepted and understands the Torah, because without Torah the result of knowledge and action will be destruction and chaos.

Micha supported Rav Reuven Feinstein's answer by pointing out that the difference between Yisro and Va'eschanan, but then noted a contradiction to this approach:  He wrote,
"Similarly, "Zakhor es yom haShabbos..." (Yisro) is connected to "ki sheishes yamim asah H' es hashamayim ve'es ha'aretz", but "Shamor" (Va'Eschanan) is "vezakharta ki eved hayisa"."  On the other hand, as he points out,
""VeShameru BY es haShabbos", while "hi beini uvein benei Yisrael os hi le'olam" it returns to the theme of creation "ki sheishes yamim", NOT yetzi'as Mitzrayim."

RYGB, aka Rabbi Bechhoffer, remarked that he believes that Reb Meir Simcha says that gentiles are allowed to and indeed obligated to commemorate Shabbos, but not by resting or kiddush.  Whether Reb Meir Simcha says it or not, it certainly would explain the Rashi that Rav Hutner brings down, as noted above.

great unknown, in the new comments on the post, says that Reb Yaakov says was RYGB attributes to Reb Meir Simcha, and also that he believes there is a Medrash to that effect.  He also points us to the next to last Rashi on Chulin 5a that says האי תנא חמירא ליה שבת כעבודת כוכבים דהעובד עבודת כוכבים כופר בהקב״ה
והמחלל שבת כופר במעשיו ומעיד שקר שלא שבת הקב״ה במעשה בראשית: and since one of the seven mitzvos is Avoda Zara, it follows that they, too, have to somehow commemorate Shabbos.  Not a perfect proof, because without a chiyuv of zachor it could be that merely believing it is enough.  After all, Zechiras Amalek we're yotzei with one time a year.   But the idea of the proof certainly underlies what Reb Reuven/the alleged Reb Meir Simcha/the alleged Medrash say(s).

Here's an extra "requires some thought" part of this dvar torah:
The Magen Avraham 304:24 (cited with approval by the Biur Halacha at the end of that siman) says that a Geir Toshav can be mekabel Shabbos along with other mitzvos; he can accept upon himself whichever mitzvos he chooses, up to 612 mitzvos. He will then remain a ger toshav, but he will be obligated to fulfill the mitzvos he accepted, including Shabbos.
Do all of the teirutzim work with the Magen Avraham?  Does it address LkwdGuy's point?

Just as a minor observation: we have this rule of Akum she'shavas, that Shabbos is exclusively meant to be observed by the Jews, but the reality is that the idea of a day of rest and spirituality is very popular.  The Christians, despite delisting ninety nine percent of the mitzvos, including Bris Milah, kept Shabbos, although they brazenly changed it to Sunday.  The Muslims kept it, albeit repackaged.  Even the Buddhists have their Shabbos concept.  There seems to be something so fundamental about Shabbos, so consonant with human spirituality, that everyone, even those that disparage the mitzvos of the Torah, has to adopt and adapt the concept for their own religions.


great unknown said...

a)the near-universal concept of a periodic day of rest may stem not from spirituality, but from an understanding that a "break" is necessary to maintain peak performance. This is the argument Moshe used with Par'oh.

b) I once heard R' Ya'akov say the teretz that goyim are mechuyav in zachor. Otherwise, they would be kofrim, which is a category of avodah zarah. see Rashi Chullin bottom of 5a.

great unknown said...

In fact, now that I search through my becobwebbed memory, I think there is a midrash that says that goyim are chayav in zachor. However, I don't have a CD to search in order to confirm same.

Anonymous said...

"The definition of God is His characteristics, and those are defined so disparately that they simply do not mean the same thing at all"

You seem to feel that there is some sort of consensus in Jewish thought about what G-d's characteristics are. It's certainly possible that a frum Jew can have a definition of G-d that is closer to a Muslim than another, equally frum Jew. For example, according to the Rambam, we are not even permitted to explain the characteristics of G-d. (Negative Theology). From what I can see, this "non-definition definition" of G-d is closer to certain Islamic schools of thought than your own! Yet if we follow your reasoning, you and the Rambam don't worship the same G-d!

b said...

great unknown- that's what Reb Reuven said, and I would love to see it inside. It would also answer Tosfos kashe on Rashi in Yevamos that Rav Hutner brings down.

Anonymous 9:19 pm, that's an interesting and frightening thought, that two frum Jews could have such distinct ideas of the Ribono shel Olam that they are not worshiping the same G-d at all. Like the Rambam and the Raavad's gedolim mimenu. Maybe the most important definition is "the G-d that created the world and Who gave us the Torah and Who has an ongoing and loving relationship with us, His people.

Anonymous said...

"The G-d that created the world and Who gave us the Torah and Who has an ongoing and loving relationship with us, His people."

The problem is this explanation includes everyone from Abraham Geiger to Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, The Rambam to The Arizal, The Satmar Rav to Rav Kook.

It seems the only way to avoid worshiping different G-ds is not to define G-d at all. Maybe there's something to be said for Negative Theology after all...

Regards from Bar Ilan...

Anonymous 9:19

Anonymous said...

oops, i meant to have more people classically considered to be kofrim in that list- i meant to show how that statement is too inclusive...

b said...

Do you ever sleep? And Geiger does not belong on the list. He didn't believe in Matan Torah in the literal sense.

Anonymous said...

I guess you're right about Geiger- but there are certainly a significant amount of kofrim (whatever that means- and i suspect we have radically different ideas about that) that fit into your statement.

great unknown said...

Just for the sake of precision:

a) there can be no single "correct" view of the Ribbono Shel Olam. The the RSh"O reveals as infinite even in this world of tzimzum. Thus, no finite creature [that's all of them] can grasp the total view.

b) The inyan at the beginning of va'Erah is saying that Moshe Rabbeinu's view of the RSh"O is different from that of the Avos in kind.

c) There are actually 603,550 different "views" of the infinite RSh"O accessible to the neshama, and each neshama has it's own unique view. However, the latter axiom has to be modified by taking into account that many [most] neshamos are twigs of a root neshama. Of the root neshamos, there are 603,550.

d) Therefore, each neshama [or neshama sept] has a unique portion in the torah [shishim ribo osiyos], and unique chiddushim that can only be created by it.

e) And each neshama has a unique purpose in creation, as well as a unique personal approach to kiyum hamitzvot [priorities, opportunities, hiddurim, kavanot. See the famous Rambam, Pirush HaMishnayot, end of Makkot].

f) This being said, it is important to emphasize that although the Tree has many branches and twigs, one has to be at least connected to the Tree. The weeds and thistles growing around the tree, even right next to the trunk, have no claim to a connection; indeed, all they do is weaken the Tree.

As Rav Dessler is reputed to have said, "There are many ways to drive from Tel Aviv to Yerushalyim, but regardless, one has to be travelling generally eastward."

Barzilai said...

great unknown, I just now looked at Rashi in Chulin, and put it into the post. Thanks.