2 Minutes of Torah Study – Va’etchanan

Miss Torah Study this morning? Get caught up in two minutes or less and join us next Shabbat morning in the WRJ room at 9:00am.

Shamor V’zachor B’dibur Echad — Two commandments — Shamor, to observe; and Zachor, to remember; spoken in one word. Or so the author of L’cha Dodi, Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, wants us to believe in order to homogenize a discrepancy in our text.

In the book of Exodus, we read that we are supposed to Zachor Shabbat, to remember it. When Moses recaps the commandments in this week’s Torah portion, we are supposed to Shamor Shabbat, to observe it. The sages of our tradition derive from this two separate ways of recognizing Shabbat — one joyous: reciting the blessings, and one either freeing or restrictive: refraining from work.

The difference between these texts, however, runs a bit deeper. Both Exodus and Deuteronomy provide us with the reason we should observe these commandments, and they too are different. In Exodus, Shabbat is a remembrance of God’s creative actions; in Deuteronomy it calls attention to our Exodus from Egypt. Remember / Observe, Creation / Exodus…why the differences in Torah?

Humans are both thinking and feeling beings. Sometimes an appeal to our cognition — you are part of something larger than yourself — works, and sometimes an appeal to emotion is more compelling— with an outstretched arm you were brought to safety. Sometimes we need the structure of rules to guide our actions, and sometimes we can rely of the joy of ritual. Remember / Observe, Creation / Exodus because we are each different and can yet are embraced by our age old tradition.