Kenneth Cohen

Shabbat, Temple, Honoring Parents

The Keli Yakar makes an interesting parallel between two different verses in the Torah. Both of them are in connection with Shabbat.

The first Pasuk is in Shemot that is the source for teaching the 39 Melachot, the activities forbidden on Shabbat. It begins with the words, אך את שבתותי תשמורו, “But you shall observe my Sabbaths.”

The positioning of this verse in the middle of the instructions of building the Mishkan, is to teach an additional Halacha. Despite the importance of creating a dwelling place for the Divine Presence, this must not be done on Shabbat. The holiness of this day, must not be compromised.

The parallel verse in Vayikra, is more direct. We are told that each individual should fear his mother and father, but he must also observe the Shabbat. The positioning of fearing parents and keeping Shabbat, is also for a very definite purpose. As important as it is, to treat our parents properly, this obligation is waived, if they tell us to violate Shabbat.

Therefore, we see how Shabbat outranks the building of the Temple. And Shabbat also outranks the necessity to listen to our parents.

The verse that tells us not to kindle a fire in our dwelling places, gives a subtle message about the importance of Shabbat. If we want our homes to be peaceful without strife, as represented by the “fire of discontentment,” then we need to treat this holy day of the week with the proper reverence and respect. This should be a major priority in our lives. After all, its importance outweighs even the construction of the Temple, and properly treating parents!

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at