Parashat Bo – The Comfort of Shabbat

At the end of Parashat Bo, Moshe talks about Pesach and Bnei Yisrael’s redemption from Mitzrayim. He says, “Remember this day on which you departed from Mitzrayim, from the house of bondagem for with a strong hand Hashem removed you from here” (Shemot 13:3). Interestingly, Moshe writes זכור instead of the more appropriate זכר. To understand why the Torah writes the word in that way, we can look at another pasuk.

The Torah says, “Remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it”. Rashi, referencing a machloket in the Gemara, explains that the reason why the Torah uses the form זכור is because it is in the infinite form, rather than the imperative. Therefore, we learn from here that even during the week, we should be continuously preparing for Shabbat. Rashi is in fact going according to Shammai who would save the nicest food, clothing, etc., that he found during the week for Shabbat. Shabbat is the holiest day of the year and Shammai held that we are supposed to treat it that way.

Yetziat Mitzrayim and Shabbat are both special to us as a people and we must recognize that.

Rashi makes a similar point by our pasuk as well. He says, “This teaches that we should mention Yetziat Mitzrayim every day”. We all know that the redemption led to the creation of the Jewish people and we therefore commemorate this event several times a day. The simple lesson we can learn from these two commandments is that we cannot ignore important events or days. Yetziat Mitzrayim and Shabbat are both special to us as a people and we must recognize that. However, I believe that there is a deeper meaning behind these two events.

The mitzva of keeping Shabbat is what Jews most identify with. It is the only commandment that non-Jews are forbidden to keep, which emphasizes its importance. What is so special about Shabbat though? Why do we have to spend a week preparing for it like Shammai? Why do we always seem to be looking forward to it when it happens week after week? Shabbat is a day that we simply believe in Hashem. When I had finals for the first time in college, I was studying day and night until I got too tired to focus. But then Shabbat arrived. I forgot about all of my tests and trusted Hashem that everything was going to work out the week after. Shabbat is a day when all of our worries are gone. We have faith that our lives are in God’s hands so we can take a day off to bask in His glory.

Yetziat Mitzrayim displays a similar idea. We were a group of slaves in an immoral country with no one to turn to. Our lives were in danger and our future seemed bleak. Just when the situation started to deteriorate, Hashem stepped in to redeem us and built our nation. Hashem showed that we have a special place in His heart and that He would always take care of us.

There reason why we have to remember this every day, in addition to constantly thinking about Shabbat, is to ingrain in our minds that Hashem runs the world and takes care of us on the most personal level. Maybe the reason why Yetziat Mitzrayim and Shabbat are related is that because Hashem demonstrated His love by redeeming us, Shabbat is only reserved for the Jewish people. Shabbat, just like the redemption, indicates a caring God whom we rely upon.

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About the Author
Nissim graduated from the Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, MD, and then spent two years at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah in Ramat Beit Shemesh. He is currently studying accounting at Yeshiva University and plans to make Aliyah upon completing of his degree.
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