(Torah Portion Emor) Wherever You Are!
Let’s talk about the weekly Shabbat.
The Torah in this week’s portion introduces the observance of the Holy day of Shabbat before describing the rules and rituals of festivals and holidays that occur during the year.
Commentators ask, what is the purpose of listing the Shabbat together with the festivals? After all, the laws of Shabbat differ from the laws of the festivals because certain food preparations, and carrying items from one domain to another are prohibited on the Shabbat, while permitted on the festivals.
There is another fundamental difference between the Shabbos and the holidays concerning how they are established. Every seventh day is Shabbat; its holiness descends automatically each Friday eve. Starting with the seven days of creation, G-d set this weekly pattern into place.
However, the Torah tells us that the festivals are determined by the Sages of the High Court based on the appearance of the new moon. G-d handed over the authority to proclaim the new month to the Sages. This in turn impacts on which day the holidays fall out. Holidays are not determined automatically.
Our Sages point out that the Shabbat is included with the festivals in order to stress that although they are different in nature, the observance of the Shabbos and festivals are dependent on one another. If one violates Yom Tov, it is as if he violates the Shabbos, and when one honors and observes Shabbos it is as if he observed Yom Tov.
The weekly Shabbos is also different from the three festivals, Pesach, Shavuos and Succos, because while the Temple was in existence each adult male was obligated to make pilgrimage to the Temple and participate in offering various sacrifices on the festivals.
The weekly Shabbos obviously does not obligate one to travel to the Temple, however this does not diminish the Shabbos’ unique holiness.
In fact, in connection to the Shabbos it says, “It is the Shabbos of G-d – in all your dwelling places.” Our Sages tell us that the words, ‘In all your dwelling places,’ means that the holiness of G-d descends in all our dwelling places – wherever a Jew observes the Shabbos. This means G-d’s presence is with us, whether we observe the Shabbos in Israel or anywhere else in the world!
An additional interpretation: Although the destruction of our Temple and our exile severely hindered and negatively affected the spiritually of the world, our Sages tell us that the essence of our Torah was immune from harm. As King David states in the Psalms, “The Torah of Hashem is complete and unblemished.
The holiness of Shabbos was also unaffected by the destruction of our Temple, as the verse states, “It is the Shabbos of G-d – in all your dwelling places.” Forever, – which includes after the destruction of the Temple.
The Shabbos and the study of Torah are our cherished treasures that afford us immunity from all the negativity of the world and offer us the Personal protective shelter of the Almighty Himself!
What if one feels that he is unworthy of G-d’s special attention due to his limited background, his inattentiveness to tradition, or because of his wayward ways? Can he have any hope that G-d’s holy presence will visit and surround him as well?
The answer lies in the words quoted previously, “It is the Shabbos of G-d – in all your dwelling places.” Which means – no matter how spiritually down you may feel, when you embrace the sanctity and holiness of Shabbos, G-d guarantees that His presence will envelop you, inspire and uplift you – in whatever situation you may find yourself!
and enjoyable Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family