Acharei: Live or Die: What Observing Shabbat Really Means



Perhaps nowhere in Judaism are the restrictions more pronounced than when it comes to the mitzvah of Shabbat. From the prohibition of smoking, turning on a switch or lighting any fire to working, gardening or carrying, Shabbat seems to be centered on the don’ts versus the do’s.

What is the purpose of all these limits and controls? Honestly speaking, does the inner skeptic, living within us, ever wonder why we need these rules, and is it not tempted to throw off this burdensome yoke and all the Shabbat restrictions along with it?

What do we tell our inner skeptic: Why should we live a life with so many prohibitions? How can we explain what these restrictions mean, and how they make us better, freer and more connected to an infinite G-d?

The Torah states you … shall live by them (by the mitzvoth), implying that you shall not die by them. Thus, in a life-threatening situation, one can violate all Shabbat restrictions in order to save a life. What does this teach us?

Did G-d give us these mitzvoth because G-d loves us? Or does G-d love us because we do mitzvoth? Rephrased in metaphorical terms: Do you give your wife flowers because you love your wife, or do you give your wife flowers so that she will love you?

Answer carefully. The definition of a Jew’s relationship with G-d hangs in the balance.


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