Friday, April 25, 2014

Kedoshim 5631 Third Ma'amar

At the beginning of this week's parsha we find, "איש אמו ואביו תיראו ואת שבתותי תשמורו .../A man shall fear his mother and his father and observe My Shabbosim …" (VaYikra 19:3)  Why are these two mitzvos – fearing one's parents and observing Shabbos – mentioned in the same pasuk?  What is the connection between them?

To answer this question we need to clearly understand what these mitzvos entail and why we perform them.  Rashi[1] cites Chazal[2] who teach us the difference between fearing and honoring one's parents. 

We fear our parents by not sitting in their place … and by not contradicting their words.  We honor our parents by feeding and dressing them and helping them about.  To put this in more general terms, fearing parents does not mean that we are obligated to be afraid of them.  Awe (or even "respect" in this context) may be a better translation than fear.  We show awe/respect for our parents by not relating to them as we might relate to someone with whom we are on equal terms.  By not sitting in the place reserved for our parents we show recognition of their status as our parents.  We honor them – kavod as opposed to yirah – by being proactive in addressing their needs.

The Zohar[3] teaches that God is the Father of our nation.  As such, this pasuk can be understood metaphorically as referring to God Himself.  How do we relate "not sitting in his place" to God?  The prophet teaches us that, "מלא כל הארץ כבודו/His glory fills the entire world." (Yeshaya 6:3)  The whole world is His place.  By recognizing that everything that happens, every event and every action, big or small is fueled by a Godly life force and acting accordingly we are, in effect, "not sitting in his place." 

With this understanding of the first half of the pasuk, we can answer our question.  Just like we fear/respect God by recognizing Him in the world and acting accordingly, keeping Shabbos is a testimony to the Creation, to our belief that God created the world, keeps it in existence and gives life to every living thing.  Appropriately, the mitzvah of observing the Shabbos directly follows the mitzvah of fearing/being in awe of our Father.

[1] Rashi VaYikra 19:3, sv ani Hashem
[2] Kiddushin 31b
[3] Zohar 3:82a Raya Mehemnusa, also viz Brachos 32b

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