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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Yisro (64)

This week's sedra contains within it the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were given exclusively to Israel at the momentous Revelation at Mt Sinai. Yet when we examine them, we notice something strange - all these commandments are ones which the gentiles are also obligated to observe. They are not the private domain of the Jews! But there is one commandment which is the Jews' private possession - that is the Shabbat. Let us look at that mitzvah and Rashi's comment on it.

Exodus 20:11

"For in six days Hashem made the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them. And He rested on the seventh day. Therefore Hashem blessed the Sabbath day and He sanctified it. "


He blessed...and He sanctified it. He blessed it through the manna by giving a double portion on the sixth day - "double bread" ; and He sanctified it through the manna in that on it none fell.

Rashi's comment is not difficult to understand, but what would you ask about it?

Your Question:


A Question: Why doesn't Rashi accept the simple meaning of the verse: The day was blessed and sanctified? Why does he reduce the blessing and the sanctity to the one issue of the manna? Certainly we don't think the Sabbath is holy only because of the manna.

Why does he abandon p'shat here?

What's bothering Rashi?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The blessing and the sanctity of the Sabbath cannot be seen, it is an abstraction, it has no objective manifestation. Rashi sought a meaning to these abstract words that would give the people something they could understand. How does his comment deal with this issue?

Your Answer:


An Answer: When Hashem spoke to the Israelites about the uniqueness of the Sabbath, He wanted to tell them something they could understand from personal experience. Hashem had already given the Israelites the manna. (See earlier in Exodus, chapter 16:14-36.) By means of the manna they saw concretely the reality of the Sabbath, as no other generation has. They received the "double-bread" on Friday which included a portion for the Sabbath and they saw that on the Sabbath itself no manna fell. This was the most convincing way to convey the uniqueness of the Sabbath.

But as you think more deeply about the double portion that fell on Friday, which is supposed to be the blessing for the Sabbath, what question would you ask?

Hint: Think logically about this, that should help you.

Your Question:


A Question: Granted that two portions of manna fell on Friday, but one was for Friday and one - only one - was for Sabbath. So what was special about the Sabbath, and what kind of a blessing is this, since it too had only one portion allotted to it?

Can you answer this question?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The manna fell each day with enough food for that day. None was left over for the next day. And if someone tried to save some for the morrow, it turned wormy and rotten (see Exodus 16:20). But the "double bread" left from Friday to the Sabbath morning did not turn rotten. So while the Sabbath had no more manna allotted to it than any other day, it was nevertheless blessed. The blessing was that a person went to bed Friday evening with no worry for the morrow, he was guaranteed provision for his next day's meal. This was not so for any other day of the week.

He Sanctified it with the Manna

What does the Torah mean when it says the Sabbath was sanctified by the manna's not falling on that day?

Your Answer:

An Answer: The Hebrew word kadosh, conventionally translated as 'holy' actually means 'separated.' It was in this sense that the Sabbath was 'holy' it was 'separated' from all the other days of the week in that the people had their food without the need to go out to collect it in the fields. As you think about that, you realize that that is what is special about the Sabbath for every generation. The observant Jew need not work for his bread on this day. It is the true Day of Rest.

That is its sanctity.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a product of the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The Rashi Institute is preparing a new, original volume of What's Bothering Rashi? We are in need of sponsors for this project. For those interested please write us and we will supply the details.

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