Sharing Torah Insights

Shabbos

Posted on י״ח באדר ה׳תש״ע (March 4, 2010) | in Ki Tisa | by

A fantastic piece from the Meshech Chochma, R’ Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (bigraphy here).

The Pasuk says: וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת כִּי קֹדֶשׁ הִוא לָכֶם מְחַלְלֶיהָ מוֹת יוּמָת כִּי כָּל הָעֹשֶׂה בָהּ מְלָאכָה וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מִקֶּרֶב עַמֶּיהָ – Keep the Sabbath, for it is a sacred thing for you. Those who desecrate it shall be put to death, for whoever performs work on it, that soul will be cut off from the midst of its people. (31:14)

The concept of being put to death for breaking Shabbos is odd from a logical perspective – one is commanded to break Shabbos to save another Jew’s life, and even in a case where there is only a possibility of there being a danger to someone, one is still commanded to break Shabbos. So it is clear that a human life is more precious than Shabbos, but this being the case, how can we put someone to death who breaks it? Isn’t this counter-intuitive?

R’ Meir Simcha explains the answer beautifully. Shabbos is less sacred than a Jew, as without a Jew observing Shabbos, Shabbos essentially isn’t there. As such, everything about Shabbos, including the very purpose of Creation, is solely remembered by a Jew who observes it, and this means that Shabbos is “indebted” to the Jew, and we therefore forego it to save a Jew’s life.

Not so by someone who desecrates Shabbos. Such a person cuts himself off from the the connection to Hashem and the Torah, and it is better for this person to die and get atonement like that than for him to survive and continue in his ways.

So this is what the Pasuk is telling us: “וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת כִּי קֹדֶשׁ הִוא לָכֶם – Keep the Sabbath, for it is a sacred thing for you”, ie it is vitally important for Jews to honour and observe Shabbos, because if they don’t, who will? Therefore ” מְחַלְלֶיהָ מוֹת יוּמָת – Those who desecrate it shall be put to death”, because someone who desecrates it has lowered themselves to below the level of Shabbos, the sign Hashem gave us. “כִּי כָּל הָעֹשֶׂה בָהּ מְלָאכָה וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מִקֶּרֶב עַמֶּיהָ – for whoever performs work on it, that soul will be cut off from the midst of its people” – this person has lowered himself beneath Shabbos by desecrating it, and has therefore alienated himself from what made his people special – that their lives were holier than Shabbos, by keeping it. Only a person who cuts himself off by desecrating Shabbos is suitable to be put to death in the name of Shabbos, so we see that it is not counter intuitive at all to put someone to death in the name of Shabbos.

This shows the level of detail in the Pasuk, that the Torah explains the mechanics of why someone is put to death for breaking Shabbos.

Geshmack!

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