Vol 17.29 - Emor 1                                       Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5736) Explanation of Rashi: (Lev.23:3) "For six days work may be performed but on the seventh day, it is a complete rest day"


The section1 of the Torah portion Emor that deals with the Festivals begins with G‑d telling Moshe to instruct the Jewish people as to when we are to celebrate them.2 The verse then goes on:3 “You shall do work during the six weekdays, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of Sabbaths … you shall do no work ….” The verse then declares:4 “These are G‑d’s festivals …” and goes on to list them.

Rashi quotes the words “six weekdays,” and explains: “What is Shabbos doing alongside the Festivals? I.e., Why is Shabbos mentioned here, when the verse is describing the Festivals? This is to teach you that whoever desecrates the Festivals is considered to have desecrated the Shabbos; whoever observes the Festivals is considered to have observed the Shabbos.”

As Rashi states, the question is that of the association of Shabbos with the festivals. Accordingly, he should have quoted only the words “the seventh day is a Sabbath.” Instead, Rashi quotes the incidental words “six weekdays,” while not mentioning what the verse states about Shabbos at all, not even alluding to the Shabbos with the word “etc.”

In the simple context of the verse, the connection of Shabbos to the Festivals is not hard to fathom. Shabbos is included in “These are the Festivals,” inasmuch as it is also deemed a “Yom Moed,” a festive and appointed day during which labor is prohibited.5

Rashi’ s question actually applies to the introductory statement about the “six weekdays”; why does the verse find it necessary to speak of working during these days? It is understandable the first time the commandment of Shabbos is cited,6 for it forewarns that one need not worry that by resting on Shabbos one’s livelihood will be affected, since “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.”

However, here, in the section of Festivals, where Shabbos is only mentioned peripherally, the question arises: What relation does working during the weekdays have with the festivals? The Torah should have begun with: “The seventh day is a Sabbath of Sabbaths.”

Rashi answers by stating that the verse compares performing prohibited labor on the Festivals with performing prohibited labor on Shabbos. The necessity of the statement about labor during the six weekdays is understood accordingly:

“Six days” denotes not only six distinct days, but a single unit of time that consists of “six days.” As Rashi explains:7 “Wherever the verse states ‘seven,’ it is referring to an entity — a ‘week of days.’ So too with regard to ‘eight,’ ‘ six’….” — it is one entity comprised of six days.

When the verse tells us about doing labor during the six weekdays, it is informing us that there is one block of time during which labor is to be done — the “six weekdays.” At any other time, labor is prohibited.

The Torah thus begins the section of Festivals with the declaration about doing labor during this block of time, for it thereby informs us that during any other days — be they the Shabbos day or Festival days — labor is prohibited.

The difference between the six weekdays and the Shabbos or Festival days lies in the fact that during the six days of the week, the spiritual dimension of man’s soul is concealed by his body. His service to G‑d must8 then be that of making his physical and mundane work into a vehicle9 in which G‑d’s blessings will reside.

During the Shabbos and Festivals, however, a Jew’s soul is not encumbered by his body. Therefore, during these days he is to place himself above the natural order. During such days, when the soul is above worldly matters, mundane labor is not befitting of his spiritual status. It is simply out of the question for spiritual man to occupy himself with corporeality, for during these sacred days his spirituality is palpable.10

1. Vayikra 23:1-44.
2. Ibid., verses 1-2.
3.Verse 3.
4. Verse 4.
5.See commentaries of Ramban and Bachya, ibid., verse 2.
6.Shmos 20:8.
7. Vayikra, ibid., verse 8.
8.See Mechilta deRashbi, Yisro 20:9; Avos d’R. Nassan ch. 11; Ramban, Vayikra 25:3; Kuntres U’Mayon, Discourse 19.
9. See Sifri, Re’eh 15:18; quoted and explained in introduction to Derech Chayim; Sefer HaMitzvos LehaTzemach Tzedek, conclusion of Mitzvas Tiglachas Metzora; Kuntres U’Mayon Discourses 17 and 25.
10. See Hemshech 5666, p. 22, et al.








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