Talmud Tips

For the week ending 23 December 2017 / 5 Tevet 5778

Shavuot 16 - 22

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
Become a Supporter Library Library

Remembering and Guarding Shabbat

A beraita teaches: Zachor (“Remember” – in Shmot 20:8) and “Shamor” (“Guard” — in Devarim 5:12) were said in one utterance (“b’dibbur echad”) — a feat that a mouth cannot speak and an ear cannot hear.

These two words are actually what we see in two different verses in the Torah. “Remember the Shabbat day to sanctify it” is written in the Torah regarding the First Tablets of the Ten Commandments (Shmot 20:8) — and “Guard the Shabbat day to sanctify it” is written regarding the Second Tablets (Devarim 5:12).

Our sugya records that Rabbi Abahu learns an important Jewish law based on the fact that Zachor and Shamor were said simultaneously. He states, “Women are obligated in the mitzvah of Kiddush according to Torah law, since the verse states ‘Remember’ and ‘Guard’ — which teaches that whoever is obligated in the mitzvah to ‘Guard’ is also obligated in the mitzvah to ‘Remember’ — and since women have a Torah obligation to ‘Guard’ (since it’s a ‘negative commandment’, a mitzvah to not do certain activities on Shabbat called ‘melacha’ — which obligates men and women), they likewise have a Torah obligation to ‘Remember,’ meaning, according to Rabbi Abahu, that they also have a ‘positive commandment’ — a mitzvah to do something, taught here as being the mitzvah to make Kiddush for the Shabbat.”

Although women are generally exempt from a mitzvah that needs to be done at a specific time (also known as a mitzvah she’hazman grama), and we would think they should be exempt from the Torah mitzvah of making Kiddush on Shabbat (which needs to be done on a specific day of the week), Rabbi Abahu teaches that the mitzvah of Kiddush is an exception to the rule, and that women are indeed obligated to fulfill this mitzvah according to Torah law.

Tosefotcites a gemara in Masechet Nazir (4a) which seems to indicate that the mitzvah to make Kiddush over a cup of wine on Shabbat is not a Torah mitzvah, but rather a Rabbinical mitzvah. This seems to pose a contradiction to our gemara which states that Kiddush is in fact a Torah mitzvah. One answer that Tosefot offers, which seems to be the main approach of the authorities, is that there is definitely a mitzvah of Torah origin to say the words of the Kiddush — as we do in the blessing of Kiddush that is said over a cup of wine — but the requirement to do so “over a cup of wine” is only of Rabbinical origin. A second approach that Tosefot suggests is that saying Kiddush over a cup of wine is indeed a Torah mitzvah, but the halacha that the person saying the Kiddush should also drink from the cup is a Rabbinical mitzvah.

Rashi and the Ramban in Chumash both explain that the mitzvah “Remember the Shabbat day to sanctify it” applies to every day of the week. The Ramban cites the Mechilta that explains that this mitzvah entails constantly remembering the Shabbat — every day of the week. By doing this we will constantly be reminded of the Creation, and we will constantly acknowledge that there is a Creator who gave us the Shabbat as a special sign between Him and us that He is the Creator of everything and guides our way throughout life.

Based on this idea, the Ramban notes that we should count the days of the week in the order of their relationship to Shabbat, thereby fulfilling this Torah mitzvah. Instead of giving each day of the week a name based on “whatever” — such as the sun and the moon — we should call the first day of the week “yom rishon b’Shabbat” and the next day “yom sheini b’Shabbat” — and so on. By doing so we fulfill the mitzvah of constantly remembering Shabbat. (Therefore, when we say the Shir shel Yom — “the Psalm of the day” — as we do in the morning prayers, we preface it by saying: “Today is the first day to Shabbat, on which day the Levites would say in the Beit Hamikdash” with intent to fulfill the Torah mitzvah to “Remember the Shabbat day to sanctify it”.)

  • Shavuot 20b

© 1995-2024 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Talmud Tips

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.