1/2 Feb : Mishpatim : Shabbat comes in 4:35 pm, ends 5:41 pm
In last week’s Parasha, Yitro, the Torah teaches in the Ten Commandments: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God: you shall not do any work — you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Yet this week we read that resting on the Sabbath is not about our well-being, or about our state of holiness, or about God. It is about our responsibility to others. It says in Parashat Mishpatim: “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labour, in order that your ox and your donkey may rest, and that your bondsman and the stranger may be refreshed.” You could say that Parshat Mishpatim teaches us that you may not work on Shabbat because your animals and slaves are entitled to a day off.
If Shabbat is just about us, then we might take it or leave it. But if observing Shabbat is about our duty toward others – if it is a social obligation to others – then we are no longer at liberty to choose if they should observe it (have a day off) based upon our own personal convictions or convenience.
Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman