Thursday, August 14, 2008

Vaeschanan: being proactive

Parshat Va'eschanan

In 5:12, as Moshe is transmitting the second set of the 10 Commandments, he says, "שמור את יום השבת" - Guard the day of Shabbos to keep it holy.

Rashi brings the famous question that in the first set of Commandments the word used for keeping Shabbos is 'Zachor' - 'remember', while here in the second set it uses the term 'Shamor' - 'Guard'. Why the change? and Rashi explains that both words were said at the exact same moment, and they were divided up between the two sets of commandments for us.

Yet the question still remains why 'Zachor' was chosen to be immortalized in the first set of commandments and 'Shamor' in the second set? Why not write both both times, or write the opposite order? Why write first 'zachor' and then 'shamor'? If both were said, then both should be written in the surviving luchos!

I do not have an answer to explain why it chose to write 'zachor' and one and 'shamor' in the other. But perhaps we can understand that once it did shoose to break it up and seperate the two words into the two tablets, why it chose to write 'zachor' first and 'shamor' second.

I would suggest that this order points us to an understanding of our history and of our approach to Judaism and mitzvos.

'Zachor' - remembering, is a passive approach to Judaism and mitzvos.
'Shamor' - guarding, is a more active, and proactive approach to Judaism and mitzvos.

Being passive has a danger to it; the danger that you will miss something, you will not perceive a threat to your lifestyle, you will not react to a threat, etc.You might not recognize the time has come to act.

At first, the passive approach was dominant. The Jews were mostly living a life, in the early desert years, of everything being done for them. Moshe broke the luchos because he saw where their passivity had brought them.

The second luchos say 'shamor' becausenow God demands a much more proactive approach to Judaism and to mitzvos. Don't just remember shabbos, but guard it.

'Shamor' is written in the surviving set of luchos, because in order to survive, as a people, as a nation, as Jews, we have to be proactive in our service of God.

8 comments:

Daniel said...

Quite the opposite. Zachor is always understood by chazal as a proactive effort of "awareness" and "being mindful". It is the source of the Mitzvat Asei of Kiddush.

Shamor is always representative of "preserving something" thru protecting it and is the source for all Negative mitzvot of Shabbos and in the Torah in general (Shamor, Pen, v'Al).

... I'm not trying to give you a hard time just to be argumentative but it really does pain me seeing as how your blog comes up at the top of the search engine list for "torah thoughts" and, in my opinion, it seems like you're going thru a sort of "mental masterbation" with this blog, saying whatever "cute" iittle "vort" that pops into your head without verifying it's Truth against any Torah benchmark or context. If you want to say a nice thought of your own that's fine, say it on its own, but don't use the Torah as your "platform podium", squeezing in your idea into whatever convenient place you find available before you really have indication that it's the true Torah intent. Tafasta Meruba lo Tafasta.

I'm sorry if i've been too harsh... b'yedidus, Daniel Mokhtar

Rafi G said...

in my little vort of mental masturbation (?) I am not referring to negative and positive. I am aware of that.

"Awareness" has nothing to do with being proactive. There is nothing proactive about being "aware" of something. Proactive is action, not awareness. Yes, zachor is awareness, and yes, zachor typically is considered to be referring to positive commandments, but awareness is not proactive. awareness is passive. therefore your comment has nothing to do with my vort.

Shamor is considered negative, but that too is a point I did not make. Shamor is action. Guarding. That is proactive.

This blog is my thoughts on the parsha. You are offended that somehow google ranks it high up when you search for the words Torah Thoughts? You don't like this blog? Search for other keywords then. You do not have to read my blog, and there is no need for you to be insulting.

The Torah and chazal tell us that everybvody has his interpretation of the Torah. Shivim Panim LaTorah is one example. I am nto denying the Rambams explanation, but just as the Rambam had his explanation, so did a whole bookcase full amount of other authors have their interpretations. We are each obligated to learn the Torah at our level, with our understanding and let the Torah speak to us.

I do not have pre-conceived ideas I am trying to stick into the Torah. I learn the parsha regularly, and I point out the various ways I notice the Torah talking to me as I learn it.

You don't like my vorts, so comment or don't comment and move on. No need to be condescending and insulting.

Daniel said...

(sigh) ...it is with anguish that i read your words... and i guess there really is no reason for you on your part to assume that I know better than you and that my words should be looked into carefully before replying back... so i am left really without much recourse in answering you...

if i could say things again in a more agreeable tone: You are making a mistake in your general approach to the meaning of "shi'vim panim l'torah" and "every jew has his portion of thoughts to say"-- it doesn't allow for "anything that'll answer the question"...

As for Zachor, I understand fully what you are saying and I am telling you that nonetheless, my friend, you are mistaken. zechira/"being aware" is, at the very least, a demand to verbalize if not to take action for the sake of "conscious awareness". Were that not to be true chazal would have had no right to darshen from the various pesukim of "Zechira" (Shabbos and Yetzias Mitrayim for example) the requirement for kiddush and zechira b'peh every day & night, respectively. Do you understand what i mean? They would NOT HAVE HAD THE RIGHT to make those drashot were it that they didn't hold it's innate in the meaning of the word Zechira. Tafasta Meruba lo Tafasta.

I'm sorry if i've offended you. I admittedly have a knack for doing that when i argue about these things.... As per your wishes i will not comment any further. b'yedidus, Daniel Mokhtar

Rafi G said...

it is not my wish for you to not comment. I said you can comment or not if something disagrees with you. Many people over the 2+ years of this blog have argued with my vorts. Sometimes I agree with them and accept their explanation, and sometimes not. I have no problem with you arguing with me. Just please do so respectfully.

Daniel said...

you'll think i'm crazy.... but i only talk this way to people i respect, sort of like "a sparring partner". If I didn't see you as a sort of equal chavrusa I wouldn't have written so strongly. But text is a difficult medium to communicate thru and without tone and facial expression i understand how you feel it was condescending and insulting.

What we're hitting on here is truly a much larger "issue" that, imo, most of the torah world (including the yeshivish one) misunderstands. Namely (what i would call) the "scientific methodology of drashot". Every drasha has to be proven, verified, hold true throughout the entire Torah. If it can't, if you can't explain the "et hashem elokeicha tira", then you MUST let go of the hundreds of other ETIM that you darshened. It's that one "et hashem elokeicha tira" which tells Shimon haAmsuni that all of his other drashot were just mere "cute vorts" made up from his mind, but not the true intent of the torah. Until, as you know, R' Akiva comes along.

The best sefer i know of as an example for what i'm talking about is the malbim on Sefer Vayikra and Bamidbar on the Sifra and Sifrei. you'll see what i mean if you get a chance to study it.

best,

aoc gold said...

The Blossom

(1)

Merry, merry sparrow!

Under leaves so green,

A happy blossom

Sees you, swift as arrow,

Seek your cradle narrow

Near my bosom.

(2)

Pretty, pretty robin!

Under leaves so green,

A happy blossom

Hears you sobbing, sobbing,

Pretty, pretty, robin,

Near my bosom.

-----by maple story account

simonsthoughts said...

An answer to why zachor and shamor are wriiten in that order is proposed by Rav Zalman Sorotzkin in Oznaim LaTorah.

He says that in Shemot when the Jewish People were beginningn their 40 years in the Midbar, there was a need to remind themselves of the positive side of Shabbat, eg. Kiddush. Only when they were about to enter the Land of Israel and begin a "normal" existence, which included farming and work, did they need to be warned about the forbidden elements of Shabbat.

Rafi G. said...

interesting. thanks