Saturday, January 30, 2010

Some interesting points from Parshat B'Shalach

I noticed this year, and pointed out to my husband, that Parshat B'Shalach seems to me to be the first place in the Torah (Pentateuch) in which B'nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) are given instructions concerning how to observe Shabbat (Sabbath). (See Exodus, chapter 16, verse 4-30.)

My husband had a few thoughts on the subject. He said that our ancestors were taken out of Mitzrayim (Egypt) for a reason, and that part of that reason was to observe Shabbat, which was a revolutionary idea in that era. "What other civilization had a day off from work?" B'nei Yisrael needed instructions on Sabbath observance because they hadn't been able to observe Shabbat during their centuries of slavery. My husband is of the opinion that the teaching concerning Shabbat observance was the lead-up to the giving of the commandments, which was the ultimate purpose of the liberation of B'nei Yisrael from slavery in Mitzrayim.


Blogger Colleen said...

I've actually heard something along the lines of your husband's comments. Heschel in his book The Sabbath mentions how when the Romans saw that the Jews observed a day of rest that they had contempt for them.

Another comment not relating to the specific parasha, but instead your blog in general in the paragraph of the shema where it talks about tzitzit it says bnai israel; which is just another reason among many that women can and should wear tallitot.

Sun Jan 31, 12:33:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Devorah, I've heard that story. It certainly sounds plausible that some of the other ancient peoples would have thought us lazy for resting one day out of seven.

I discussed the connection between the Torah's reference to B'nei Yisrael wearing tzitzit and the issue of women wearing tallitot in my March 16, 2005 post ”Nothing to help us pray: Women and the Sh’ma—davenning in the abstract”.

Sun Jan 31, 12:54:00 PM 2010  

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