What's Bothering Rashi? Parshat V'etchanan: Shabbat And Redemption
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V'etchanan(Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)

Shabbat And Redemption

This sedra repeats the Ten Commandments, which we had in Parshat Yitro in the Book of Exodus. There are some differences between the two. We will focus on the mitzvah of Shabbat.

Rashi shows the connection between the Sabbath and the redemption from Egypt.

Deuteronomy 5:15

"And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Hashem, your God, took you out from there with a strong hand and an outstreched arm . Therefore has Hashem, your God, commanded you to make the Sabbath."

 

RASHI

And you shall remember that you were a slave, etc. - Rashi: On this condition He redeemed you, that you shall be His servant and you shall keep His commandments.

 

QUESTIONING RASHI

A Question: Why does Rashi comment here? The verse seems understandable without any commentary. What is bothering him?

Your Answer:

 

WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?

An Answer: The verse connects keeping the Sabbath with the redemption from Egypt. But there does not appear to be any cogent connection between the two. Rashi searches for a connection.

How does his comment makes the connection?

Your Answer:

 

UNDERSTANDING RASHI

An Answer: Rashi's comment is meant to offer a reasonable connection between the commandment to keep the Sabbath and the redemption from Egypt. The connection: The redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage was solely for the purpose of becoming their Redeemer's servants. It is similar to the case where a person redeems a slave and takes him as his own slave. The new owner can rightfully claim that the only reason he freed the slave from his former master's control was so that he (the new master) could take the redeemed man as his own slave. So too, God freed Israel and thus has first claim on their service .

The Divrei Dovid, a commentary on Rashi, highlights the logic behind the relationship between keeping the Sabbath and the redemption from Egypt:

"Why was the redemption from Egypt especially tied to our becoming God's servants? Why is the Sabbath different from other mitzvot? It seems to me that this is to show how different Hashem is from human masters. A person who frees a servant from his master, certainly does so in order that the redeemed servant will work for him and will be his indentured servant, to do his work.

But the Holy One , blessed be He, redeemed Israel from Egypt where they had performed harsh labor and He made them His servant with no obligation to work, or more to the point, just the opposite, they were to cease all work on the Sabbath and that cessation from work, that rest, would be the sign that they were His servants!"

 

Shabbat Shalom,
Avigdor Bonchek


Published: July 24, 2004

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Anonymous, August 3, 2012 6:01 PM

Perhaps another reason for the connection between Egypt and keeping the Sabbath.

To question Rashi is vastly beyond me. And yet. To connect leaving Egypt with becoming servants of the HaShem, that makes sense but the usual reason one has servants is for their labor. But to connect leaving Egypt with keeping the Sabbath, i.e., to refrain from working? Yes, this can also make sense, we remember our bondage and become grateful for our rest, for being HaShem's servants. But, perhaps, there is another possibility. Keeping the Sabbath means keeping all the laws of the Sabbath including "you shall do no work—neither you...your manservant, your maidservant...." Perhaps it would not be unreasonable to understand the verse to mean that, because we were redeemed from bondage, so to we must allow our servants to rest on the Sabbath. Perhaps the verse could even possibly be interpreted to mean, that even if were did not keep the Sabbath for any other reason, we must keep it so as to allow our servants (households, animals, etc.) to rest because we were redeemed from bondage.

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