Sunday, February 28, 2016

Parshat Vayak'hel, 1st Portion, Exodus 35:1-20, February 28, 2016

“Moses called the whole community of the children of Israel to assemble, and he said to them: ‘These are the things that the Lord commanded to make.  

Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have sanctity, a day of complete rest to the Lord; whoever performs work thereon [on this day] shall be put to death.’” (Exodus 35:1-2)

I wrote a day or two ago that a commandment is not an order. We can refuse it if we are willing to take the consequences. Here the consequence for working on the Sabbath is death. 

In Hebrews 10:26-29, it speaks of a world where God is no longer the direct ruler, but rather when the evil-doer must look forward to the last great day of judgement. Is this what will happen to me because I work all the time (not that I get much done)? 

Would this be a good practice to not work on Saturday? What would I do? That still baffles me. I would go to Torah study, as I do... but then I'd go to the service afterwards... and I wouldn't do my Torah blog, and I wouldn't close up the holes in our living room wall, and I wouldn't this or that. I could make excuses, like I won't have my right hand for two months starting in about a week... but that hasn't been the case for most of my life.

I think I had mentioned before that work is not just work. It is in Judaism a practice as well. It is mindful and it is preparation toward making the world a better place. Then on Saturday we are suppose to lay low and appreciate what we've done. But must I? Why should I, I ask?

Why would God ever tell anyone not to work. I think of Wordsworth here, “Getting and spend we lay waste our nature. Little we know of nature that is ours.” But supposedly the mindful and creative work to make the world better is not "lay(ing) waste our nature.” 

I don't take vacations either. Because making stuff is what I want to do. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Should I do it just once so that I can say, I observed the sabbath. I could walk to the temple. But could I open the refrigerator? That's the question. And could I use the toaster oven? Maybe my wife would do that for me. Which always seemed odd that you could have another do some of these things for you... where saving a life almost trumps everything (I guess the word "trump" will never be the same).

My uncle Irving, an Orthodox Jew, would work in my father's store on some Saturdays. He would not take money though, but have my father do that. Do you think on the last day of judgement that God will not remember? We'll see.

1 comment:

  1. I understand Shabbat as a day we can set aside to experience our being rather than our doing. When I take the Shabbat this way, it does not matter if I drive the car as long as I do it with the intention of appreciating time. Not that I can't do that the rest of the week, but my doing tends to be occupying and thus it is difficult for me to experience my being. I am not saying there are no other ways to have this experience (see Buddhism for example), but this is a way that the Jewish tradition points to. (by the way, the dying can be seen not as a physical death but a death of our soul)


Thanks for commenting. One cannot study the Torah alone.