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Parshas Breishis - Hashem Rests on the Seventh Day

By BJLife/Reb Dovid Fink

Posted on 10/04/18

Bereishis contains many firsts.  For that matter it really contains all firsts.  Central however to all the firsts is the existence of Shabbos.  The Torah tells us “Hashem blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on that day he abstained from all work which he had created to do”.   (Bereishis, 2:3) Interestingly, Shabbos observance is not given as a Mitzvah at that time.  I am unaware of any commentaries or Midrashic sources which indicate that Adam Harishon was commanded to or kept Shabbos.  Moreover, Hashem chose not to include Shabbos observance in the Sheva Mitzvos B’nei Noach.  There are Mepharshim and Gemaras which discuss Avraham Avinu wanting to keep Shabbos but unsure if he was permitted to – If he was a goy, then he was not permitted to keep Shabbos but if he was considered a “Jew”, then he should keep Shabbos as he kept the other Mitzvos, when he was in Eretz Yisroel.[1]


It appears that the first place Bnei Yisroel were commanded to keep Shabbos was in Parshas Yisro, shortly after Yitzias Mitzrayim, as part of the Aseres Hadibros. [2] There, in no uncertain terms we are commanded to “remember the Shabbos and keep it holy…because Hashem created the heavens and earth and the sea and all that is in them and he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, Hashem blessed the Shabbos and made it holy” (Yisro, 20:9-11) On this Pasuk, Rashi comments (DH Berach Vayikadshehu) That the “Beracha” of Shabbos is that the Mon fell double on the 6th day and it did not fall on the seventh day”.  Huh?  The Beracha and making Shabbos holy was the blessing of the Mon?  Shabbos was around since the 7th day of creation and has continued long after the Mon stopped falling more than 3300 years ago.  What is Rashi telling us?  I understand that the Mon had started falling just a month or so before the giving of the Aseres Hadibros and that the Mon was an incredible Nes but at the end of the day it lasted for 39 years – a blip in time in the history of Shabbos.  Shabbos was and always has been about much more than the Mon.


Perhaps if we look back to Bereishis and see what comment Rashi had there, we may glean some understanding.  On the words “And Hashem blessed and he made it holy”(Bereishis 2:3), Rashi says “He blessed it through the Mon, that each day one portion would fall for each person but on the 6th day a double portion fell and Hashem made it holy by none falling on the 7th day.  This makes our question even worse! At least by the Aseres Hadibros the falling of the Mon was a cotemporaneous event with the giving of the Mitzva of Shabbos but here in Bereishis what possible reason could Rashi have for linking Shabbos to the Mon which was not going to fall for another 2000 years?  


These perplexing Rashis are perhaps readily understood when taken into account with our daily davening and a Gemara.  Everyday before Shema we say “Hamechadesh Btuvo Bkol Yom Tamid Maase Bereishis” as is discussed in the Gemara in Chagiga 12b[3], this is not a simple expression but rather a cornerstone that Hashem did not simply create the world but rather is constantly recreating it every day.  And if he ever ceased in his creating, the world would revert to nothingness.  Every day of creation was sewn with kochos, every day in the calendar has similar Kochos.  And when Hashem rested on the 7th day, this is what Rashi is alluding to – That Hashem did not simply rest on the 7th day but he is still resting every Shabbos.  That the kochos of Maaseh Bereishis are still happening every moment of every day.  And when will you see this again? By the Mon – when Hashem brings a double portion on the 6th day and none will fall on the 7th.  Then you will see that Hashem is every day actively involved the same way he was during Maaseh Bereishis.


As we begin our new year these two lessons need to be front and center.  Our world is not on “automatic pilot”.  Hashem is actively interested and involved.  He has given us a blueprint of how to live our lives so that we can enjoy them to the fullest. [4] Rashi is telling us this concept in the first Aliya of the first Parsha.  Every day has Kochos and opportunities which we are charged to use.  And on Shabbos we are charged with Menucha - So we may enjoy it with our creator who still rests every 7th day.






[1] The commentaries detail how Avraham would drag a bench a certain minimum distance which if he was a Jew was insufficient to count as Chilul Shabbos but if he was a Goy was enough that he had done melacha.




[2] There are many Mepharshim which discuss the possibility that Bnei Yisroel kept Shabbos to some degree in Mitzrayim, but there too it would have been as a Mesora they received from Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov. Clearly, they had not been commanded to do so yet.




[3] The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (3:18) and the Ramban in Bereishis 18:19 articulate this same principal






[4] When Hashem promises rewards in Sefer Bamidbar and Devarim, he promises rain for crops, peace in the land and good lives.  The promise of Olam Haba is in addition to good lives here.