After specifying all the details about the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) Hashem halts the rhythm of the text and demands that the Israelites observe the Shabbat. “Yes”, says Hashem, “it is important to build a holy place for  Me but more important is the holiness of time and therefore the building of the tabernacle should not override the rest of Shabbat”.


In one of the many verses which talk about Shabbat the Torah says, “Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day is a Shabbat Shabbaton…” (Ex. 31:5). Shabbat Shabbaton is usually translated as a “Shabbat of complete rest’”, a true Shabbat we may add. This is the reading of the Shadal (Shmuel David Luzzato, Italy, c. XIX) who argues that the double use of the term Shabbat is to strengthen the commandment of resting during Shabbat. But Rashi explains this redundancy in the following way:  A reposeful rest, not a casual rest.” According to Rashi Shabbat should be a day of a reposeful and conscious rest not an occasional nap or casual rest. We have to plan our “resting day”. The need for resting should not overtake us by surprise but rather we should “get ready to rest”. Shabbat shouldn’t be like the laborer who after many hours of hard work, after eating a sandwich suddenly falls asleep. For the rest of Shabbat we should plan ahead, cleaning our house, preparing food the day before, setting the timers… In order to appreciate the true holiness of Shabbat we need to plan ahead, we need to prepare ourselves to receive Shabbat. The Talmud says in this regard “He who prepares on Friday, will eat on Shabbat.” (Avodah Zara 3a). The preparations for Shabbat are as important as Shabbat itself.


May this Shabbat be a reposeful rest!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Uri