Thursday, August 11, 2011

Changes between the luchos -- the reason for Shabbat

Summary: Perhaps the elaboration on why servants get to rest is related to the changed reason of Exodus over Genesis.

Post: As discussed in an earlier post, there are a number of differences between the account of the contents of the Aseres HaDibros in parashas Yisro and the retelling by Moshe in parashas Vaeschanan. And Ibn Ezra highlights all these changes (as well as one which does not exist), and discusses why the changes are or are not meaningful. I would like to focus on just one or two changes and discuss them.

What follows are the accounts side by side, with ****s marking missing words or letters from the parallel account. Thus, for instance, in Yisro there is the word עַבְדְּךָ, and it is is missing the leading vav from the parallel  וְעַבְדְּךָ in Vaeschanan. Check out the linked-to post for the complete list.

ט  וְיוֹם, הַשְּׁבִיעִי--שַׁבָּת, לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ:  לֹא-תַעֲשֶׂה כָל-מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ, *עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ ***** ***** וּ**בְהֶמְתֶּךָ, וְגֵרְךָ, אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ **** **** **** ***** ****.יג  וְיוֹם, הַשְּׁבִיעִי--שַׁבָּת, לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ:  לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל-מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ-וּבִתֶּךָ וְעַבְדְּךָ-וַאֲמָתֶךָ וְשׁוֹרְךָ וַחֲמֹרְךָ וְכָל-בְּהֶמְתֶּךָ, וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ--לְמַעַן יָנוּחַ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ, כָּמוֹךָ.
י  כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת-יָמִים עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֶת-הַיָּם וְאֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר-בָּם, וַיָּנַח, בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי; עַל-כֵּן, בֵּרַךְ ה אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת--וַיְקַדְּשֵׁהוּ.  {ס}יד  וְזָכַרְתָּ, כִּי עֶבֶד הָיִיתָ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, וַיֹּצִאֲךָ ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מִשָּׁם, בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה; עַל-כֵּן, צִוְּךָ ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לַעֲשׂוֹת, אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת.  {ס

The two changes I would like to focus on are:

  1. The added elaboration, at the end of Vaetchanan pasuk 13, of לְמַעַן יָנוּחַ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ, כָּמוֹךָ.
  2. The changed reason for the mitzvah of Shabbat. In Yitro 10, it is the Creation. In Vaetchanan 14, it is the Exodus.

I would suggest that these two changes are related to one another. Change #1 is simply elaboration. We might think the best way of getting rest on Shabbat is having others take care of the labor for us, and since we have servants, we should assign them this task. But in Yisro, even servants were included in the prohibition. Vaeschanan makes this clearer, and adds a bit of cause. It is so that the servants, just like you, should rest.

The reason given for the entirety of keeping the Shabbat, in Vaeschanan 14 also works to explain why we are being so nice to the servants here. Put yourself in their place. You, too, were a servant, and it was only Hashem's redemption and outstretched hand which elevated you from that. Both reasons work, and are true, but this is the reason which is more relevant here.

We can add in a parallel to elsewhere in Devarim. In Devarim 24:21-22,

21. When you pick the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean after you: it shall be [left] for the stranger, the orphan and the widow.כא. כִּי תִבְצֹר כַּרְמְךָ לֹא תְעוֹלֵל אַחֲרֶיךָ לַגֵּר לַיָּתוֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָה יִהְיֶה:
22. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt: therefore, I command you to do this thing.כב. וְזָכַרְתָּ כִּי עֶבֶד הָיִיתָ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם עַל כֵּן אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה:

This reinforces the idea that this is an issue of empathy.

Zooming out once again, what are the messages about Shabbat in general? In Yisro, that this is a holy day, and so we should treat it, ritually, as a holy day. With the resting from all labor, we recognize Hashem's creation and mastery over the earth. In Yisro, that nationally, we belong to Hashem, and that all of our labors can cease at His command.


Anonymous said...

the meshech chochma has more to say about the differences between the 2 parshios

Anonymous said...

cool post


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