The Ten Commandments, Part II

February 7, 2014

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, February 7, 2014.

The Ten Commandments, Part II

Last week, we looked at the fact that the fact that the first word in each of the two versions of the Fourth Commandment is different: Shamor (Guard) the Sabbath in Deuteronomy, and Zachor (Remember) in Exodus. But… the striking difference in the two versions is more that just the first word of the commandment. In fact, if you read each version carefully, you’ll notice that each time it gives a different reason why we observe the Shabbat! Both reasons for the Shabbat are compelling, but the rationale is different.

Exodus (chapter 20): We observe the Shabbat “because in 6 days the Lord made heaven and earth… and rested on the seventh day.” Just as God rested, so do we on the Sabbath. Therefore, on Shabbat, we imitate God! We spend our week working, and creating just as God did in the creation. And like God, we are capable of resting. In Latin, they called it: Imitatio Dei, the imitation of God... a concept from the Hebrew Bible.

Deuteronomy (chapter 5): We observe the Shabbat because “thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore, the Lord thy god commanded thee to keep the Sabbath Day.”  Observing the Sabbath is the ultimate proof that we are free human beings. Slaves are never entitled or permitted to cease working. The true indication of human freedom, however, is our ability to cease our work on the Sabbath.

Shabbat Shalom