Why is the Torah so strict about not desecrating the Sabbath day?

Shabbos is a special gift given to the Jews.  As you may have noticed it is one of the 10 Commandments, and one of the hallmarks of a Jew (like keeping kosher).  As the other gentleman said; it is a Day of rest and everyone needs one. But that is so not the whole picture.

Shabbes spent properly forces you to not worry about most of the issues of your life; if you can’t pick up a pen, phone, money – you can drop worrying about those things for 25 hours.

Shabbes gives you time with family, friends – time to reflect.  If you think you will have that time without the law of keeping Shabbes – you are fooling yourself.  No one gives themselves the time week after week to refocus, to relax, to be with family, to study the Torah without G-d imposing his law on us. We need it.

Zoya Goldman asked:

Tziyona, what are your thought on the reasons for making desecration of Shabbat a capital offense?  Exodus 31:15 For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.

Tziyona

This is a very good question: First of all you have to know in order to be punished there are set requirements. 1: a person need to have 2 Kosher Jewish men warn him not to desecrate Shabbos (in specific terms ) and warn him that he if he continues he can receive the death penalty. 2. Then he must be seen by 2 Kosher Jewish Men who see the entire act of the desecration (no circumstantial evidence can be used). 3. He must be tried in a court of law who have the authority of giving out the death sentence.  (When there was such courts if they convicted a person to death more than once in 70 years – they were called a murderous court). 4. The witnesses themselves would need to carry out the punishment.

That all being said; and as you can imagine it would be very unlikely of too many sentences actually being carried out –  All the same; why?

All mitzvot (and especially Shabbat) are given to either build up a person spiritually or help make a more moral better person.

Shabbes was commanded on us to be like G-d the Creator who rested on the Shabbes because it would build the spiritual part of a person. If a person would choose to cut themselves off (with witnesses warning them of the danger!) spiritually, then they are forfeited the physical part too. A tzadik who has died is still thought of as alive in spirituality. A rasha (wicked person) who is alive is called dead – because he has no spirituality.

Shabbes is one of the greatest tools G-d gave to us to build us, protect us, make us into spiritual giants. With Shabbos there is true life.

We work 6 days a week and rest on the 7th; because we need to do hishtadlus in providing ourselves our material needs, but it is all an illusion.  God is the provider; by resting on Shabbat we give testament to that reality. Keeping Shabbos is a statement that we know that it is G-d who runs the world. We keep the Shabbos and Shabbos keeps us.

Zonker Ault

Barbaric practices, such as murdering a human being for some imaginary transgression that harms no one, are usually associated with religions other than Judaism. Despite all the “softening” – once in 70 years, unlikely to have “too many” of these carried out, etc. – the “reasoning” here is a parallel to what ISIS uses for their killing of “apostates”.
 

Tziyona

It is hard for me how you can compare the two – unless that is just your premise before you start really applying any thinking into the problem

Zonker Ault

Nope, that’s not my premise. But agreeing that murdering people is a reasonable thing to do, based on any interpretation of the Torah whatsoever, is not something I’d normally believe of mainstream modern Judaism. It’s really hard for me to understand how you could espouse that kind of thinking.

Tziyona

Is there any circumstance that you would believe that a person has forfeited his life? murder, rape how about rape and murder of a young child. Okay now we agree there would be a possibility of such an idea. In fact look at the American government – how many people are on death row. 10? 100? 1000? is this comparable to the Sanhedrim? One maybe in 70 years.  And this you want to compare to ISIS.  Then we are living in a much worse society.

Zonker Ault

There are, without the slightest doubt, circumstances in which I see a person as having forfeited his or her life. Every single one of them is inextricably based in lasting, definite, measurable harm to others. The situation you’re describing does not fit any of those.

The comparison to the American government, or any government, is something that damages any point you’re trying to make, though. I don’t see any need to turn this into a discussion of fine points of religion, but the way I’ve always interpreted the main thrust of Judaism is “The Torah begins with chesed and ends with chesed.” Loving-kindness, mercy, and taking a higher ethical position than any government seem to me to be the primary virtues espoused by Judaism. Murdering someone when they have not caused harm to others does not fit anywhere within that definition.

 

Tziyona:

Your right that loving kindness, prayer and the Torah are the 3 pillars of Judaism. Is it kindness to allow a person do whatever they want without giving them a path to greatness? If there is a path of greatness; aren’t there rules and regulations meaning consequences for wrong actions? If we recognize that G-d has given us the greatest path to having a great life; since he is the manufacture – isn’t it possible he would know and actually give out an instruction booklet – namely the Torah? Why would G-d established a system that actually there may have never been someone actually killed for breaking Shabbes by the court? Maybe because He wants you to know – it is that serious. By breaking Shabbes you are breaking the perfect spiritual world he created especially for you. Don’t disconnect your spiritual world from your physical world – you can end up losing everything.

Zonker Ault

Your argument is about undefined generalities – which is exactly why I said that I don’t see any need to turn this into a discussion of fine points of religion, because it’s very easy to hide behind this kind of fuzzy interpretations. My point was about murder. You could break a billion “perfect spiritual worlds”, with a few billion more thrown in for good measure, but this would not be worth a single human life.

My comparison with ISIS, incidentally, seems to have been apt. The reasoning that you’re using – that some “perfect spiritual world” is worth murdering for – is the same as that of Sharia law. The actual frequency of punishment, etc. may vary – according to Wikipedia, “only” four people were executed for apostasy by governments using Sharia law during 1985-2006 – but the mechanism, and its underlying basis, is the same.

I will admit that I’m rather shocked to hear this coming from someone who considers themselves an Orthodox Jew. I can only hope that this is a viewpoint of an extreme minority, and that you will change it on reconsideration.

Tziyona Kantrowitz

There is another law that says if a boy who is almost 12 and half, steals from his parents, eats and drinks gluttonously (but kosher) and his parents look alike, sound alike behave alike and bring him to a court of law – he should be killed. What is this law teaching us? 1. It never can happen (do you know any man and wife who are exactly alike) so it is coming to teach us about education.  You can’t allow your children to misbehave without some sort of punishment, but parents have to be on the same page (as much as possible – since it is impossible to be exactly the same).

The law of Shabbes is the similar. Jews are not like Sharia – who perhaps only executed 4 in 20 years (we of course have heard of much more) which in any rate is still 10 times more than a “murderous” court.  But I also said that I don’t think there are any known cases of Shabbes desecrators.   The law is said the same like the example above.  To teach the seriousness.

I didn’t make it up. I’m just saying, G-d takes the 10 commandments seriously.  Why don’t we?

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