Tuesday, March 04, 2014

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Something's Missing!


Something’s Missing!

     by Gutman Locks


     When learning Torah we can learn from what is written there, and from what is not written there.

     Hashem commanded us to observe Shabbos. He said; “…you shall not do any work---you, and your son, and your daughter, your slave, and your maidservant, and your animal, and your stranger (ger) who is within your gates…” These words are in the Ten Commandments. We also read them every Shabbos when we make Kiddush.

     It is not uncommon for translations to omit the word “and” here (considering it to be unnecessary), or to translate it as “or”. And the “stranger” in this command is sometimes translated as “convert.”    

     The first question is, why is there no and before “your slave” as there is before all of the others, and who is the “stranger” within our gates? Is he a true convert as some translate it, or is he a gentile who guards the Seven Commandments of Noah? (ger toshav)

     Hashem tells us not to work on Shabbos, and with us are our sons and our daughters, as it says; “…you and your son and your daughter.” This cannot be referring to our adult children since they are already commanded as Jews to keep the Shabbos. So it must be referring to our minor children. Although they are minors, they, like us, must rest.

     Next are our servants. A male servant has a lesser degree of obligation to the Torah than a Jew, but still he is to rest. The female servant also has some obligation to observe the commandments. Then, still within this category of those somehow connected to the Torah (but not as Jews) are “your animals.” They too must not be worked on Shabbos. And finally there is “the stranger within our gates.”

     And how do we know that the “ger” within our gates is not a full fledged convert as some translate it? Because the full fledged convert is a Jew, and as such he is already commanded to keep the Shabbos. So this “ger” has to be referring to a righteous non Jew who keeps the Seven Laws of Noah. But a Noahide has no obligation to keep Shabbos. So here Hashem is telling us that we are not allowed to have him do things for us that we ourselves are not allowed to do.

     Now we see why the “ands” are important, and why there is no “and” before the male servant. The first group, us and our minor children are bound up in the same relationship to guard the Shabbos... “you and your son and your daughter. But the servant, and the maid, and the animal, and the stranger within our gates have a different relationship to the Torah, and as such form a second group. If there were an and before the servant, this distinction would not be evident.

     And what is the purpose of all of these detailed rules? Hashem wants us to have a good Shabbos.




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