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Study and Theory/

Benjamin Yogev (Buja)

So that Your Slave Rests as You Do

"So that Your Slave Rests as You Do", The Shabbat According to Benjamin Yogev (Buja)

When the Roman historian Tacitus in the first century to the common era wrote about the antiquity of the Jews and their attributes, he made mention of Shabbat, stating: "Some say they resolved to spend the entire seventh day in rest since the day brought an end to their toil. Then their hearts opened to laziness to the extent that they assigned idleness also to the seventh year..." (the Sabbatical year).

Is it possible that what we feel is one of the most wonderful gifts the Jewish nation granted to humanity – the Shabbat as a day of rest – brought about such a great degree of mockery by Tacitus and other thinkers of Greece and Rome?


I believe the reason for this stems from the definition of Shabbat in the Ten Commandments as they appear in the Book of Exodus in Chapter 20:

"Remember the Shabbat day to sanctify it. [...] you shall not do any work, - you, your son, or your daughter, your man-servant or your maid-servant, or your cattle or the stranger within your gates."


A society that was based on the work of servants every day, from morning to night, from the beginning of the week and the months until their respective ends and from the beginning of the year until its end, with no interval, does not accept the idea that all human beings wherever they may be, both free men and slaves, men, women and foreigners are entitled to a day of freedom and rest and to abstain from work once every six days.


The great impact of a declaration like the one about Shabbat in the Ten Commandments, is inconceivable in the ancient world. Many years have transpired since, and we have had the privilege to establish a state and to restore the Jewish nation to its land.


Throughout the long years of exile until these days in the Jewish Diaspora, Jews had no problems with Shabbat.


The decision was made by every individual, while in the surrounding area the world continues to behave as usual on the day of Shabbat. (In many lands and by many nations Sunday was designated as the weekly day of rest).


For the first time in the modern history of our nation, we arrive at a decision about the type of Shabbat that ought to be observed in the entire State of Israel in each one of its settlements.


Would half of the nation shop in a shopping mall and half of it sell in the shopping mall or would this be a different and special day.

I do not know if there is an ultimate solution.

Is the entire land "Bnei Brak" or "Meah Shearim"? – certainly not.


Is it possible to find a common denominator by which recreation, entertainment and selected public transportation would be permitted on Shabbat, on the day of rest, while trade would be almost entirely forbidden?


Workers, employers and consumers would rest one day a week. Rest would be defined individually according to one's lifestyle and tendencies. Yet the day would focus on: no work, rest for every human being, for an Israeli veteran citizen, for a foreign worker, for a new immigrant, for all!


And so does Moshe Glickson (1939 -1978), a Zionist leader and journalist, editor of "Haaretz" and translator, comment in his essay on Shabbat:

The reason for the commandment of Shabbat in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 5, in the Ten Commandments is explained with the words: "So that your man-servant and maid-servant rests as you do, and you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and G-d your Lord took you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.

Thereupon G-d commanded you to do the Shabbat"

"The commandment of Shabbat is not explained here by the six days of creation, but with a clear social motive. Here, Shabbat became the foundation of social morality. This is a symbol and guarantee for equality among people!

Shabbat is the symbol of goodness, morality, judgement and charity. It entails a universal – humane character".


And I add and claim:

Can we easily forfeit this a wonderful gift?!

In contrast to what is written in the aforementioned position paper.

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