Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Yitro - 5773

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the portion of Yitro. It begins with a family reunion, when Yitro, Moses' father in law, comes to the wilderness to join the Israelites. He brings along Tzipora, Moses' wife and their two sons Gershom and Eliezer. Moses and the leaders welcome Yitro and Yitro recognizes the G-d of Israel. This passage is followed by the main topic of this week's Torah reading, The Giving of the Ten Commandments.

I would like to share a few words with you about the Fourth Commandment - "Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy." Three more verses give us the details of how to make the Sabbah holy:

The three major religions have established a Sabbath. We observe Saturday, the Moslems keep Friday and for the Christians it's Sunday.

In Judaism Shabbat is more than just a day of rest. It is the focal point of the week that has just passed. Jewish law instructs us to select the best clothing and wear them on Shabbat. To purchase and prepare the best foods for Shabbat. The entire week revolves around the Shabbat, and each day reminds us of the Shabbat. We can see that from the fact that the Hebrew language does not have names for the weekdays. Instead, Sunday is called Yom Rishon Leshabbat, first day of Shabbat, Monday is Yom Sheni Leshabbat, etc. This is to teach us that the days of the week are only imporant to the extent that they relate to the upcoming day of Shabbat.

Today we live in a world that is 24/7 in every aspect of our life. Business, news, transportation, shopping, entertainment, communications, work, can keep us involved and preoccupied every day and every hour of the week. How wonderful would it be if we can get into the habit to plan ahead for Shabbat, and make it different.

The Jewish people have given the world the concept and the uniqueness of a weekly day of rest. And the world has adopted it. But for us it is more than just a day of rest. Shabbat is a day of Tefillah, prayer, Menuha, rest and Oneg (enjoyment).

Are you taking advatage of this day?

Try it for a few months or even weeks. Make Shabbat special - come to shul, pray and study. Stay for kiddush and lunch, and sing and rejoice. The world will wait for you. The 3-4 hours that you would spend observing Shabbat will provide you with a spirtitual uplift and opportunity to thank G-d for His creation and for giving us Shabbat, a holy day, a blessed day. We hope to see you on Shabbat.

Have a great week, and remember - each day brings you closer to Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom,