Parshas Emor: Time with the King

Parshas Emor is one of the more familiar parshiyos in the Torah because it is also read on Yom Tov. In perek 23, the Torah writes 44 pesukim discussing Shabbos followed by the Yomim Tovim.

I would like to focus on these most fundamental tenets of Yidishkeit based on comments of the heligeh Chassam Sofer zy”a, thereby explaining the difference between Shabbos and Yom Tov.

The Torah tells us in Parshas Kedoshim, איש אמו ואביו תיראו ואת שבתותי תשמרו אני ה' אלוקיכם- Every man shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall observe my Shabbosos, I am HaShem your G-d. The first item we take notice of here is that Shabbos, respecting one’s parents and HaShem are all joined together. Later on, the Torah tells us את שבתותי תשמרו ומקדשי תיראו- You shall observe My Shabbosos and revere My sanctuary. Over here, Shabbos and respecting HaShem’s sanctuary are combined. Furthermore, HaShem is calling Shabbos His own (“My Shabbos”).

The Chassam Sofer explains this based on the prohibition of lo yeshev bimkomo, which prohibits one from sitting in the father’s seat, unless express permission was granted. If this is the halacha regarding a parent, then the same must be true regarding HaShem. Namely, reverence of HaShem and His sanctuary will surely prohibit entry unless one was specifically invited.

If the same possuk that tells us to revere HaShem’s sanctuary then tells us to observe His Shabbos, then this must mean that we are being invited inside of HaShem’s space on Shabbos to observe it together with Him. Accordingly, Shabbos is the exception to the rule of lo yeishev bimkomo.

HaShem tells Moshe to inform us of a special gift that HaShem keeps in His treasure chest called Shabbos. This is an express invitation from HaShem to come and join Him on Shabbos (Shabbos 10b). It doesn’t say that HaShem removed Shabbos from His treasure and gave it to us, but rather, we are informed of it, and can join HaShem in His personal space by observing it properly.

As with any invitation, a guest must follow certain etiquette. Therefore, the possuk states right away that we must revere the Shabbos. The Chassam Sofer likens this to one that is invited to come and visit the king’s palace. He must prepare himself for the visit by bathing, dressing his finest, and even preparing the conversations that will take place. And if he is told to bring food with him, you can imagine that the finest delicacies will be brought along. It goes without saying that he must show up on time. This is not just another tourist attraction, but an opportunity of a lifetime to be cherished forever and taken advantage of to the fullest extent.

 As Yidden, we are given this opportunity each and every week, but we must realize that it cannot be taken for granted and turn into just another day off. How would the King look at such a visit? In fact, one that comes to the palace uninvited is trespassing which is a serious transgression. Similarly, if a goy keeps Shabbos, he receives the death penalty, because he was not invited to join HaShem in this special space.

Yom Tov is different in that instead of the king inviting us, we invite the king to our home. The one that gives the invitation is the one that will decide the time. For Shabbos, it is HaShem that sets the time, whereas on Yom Tov, we can set the time (mekadeish Yisroel v’hazmanim). Furthermore, because we are at home, there is more time to go ahead and prepare the foods, which can explain why cooking on Yom Tov is permissible.

The common denominator of course is that Shabbos and Yom tov are incredible opportunities to bask in HaShem’s presence and really take advantage. How silly it would be to just throw away such a gift. We all know “other people” that really begin to fly when Shabbos and Yom Tov begin, utilizing every moment. Why shouldn’t we be one of those people? Why should we be a spectator when there is an open invitation to actually join in?

I would like to end off with a mashul that I heard from Rav Shimshon Pinkus z”l (Hagadda shel Pesach audio series). Two people arrive at the airport at the same time. One of them stands on the side waving to others and talking, while the other is going through the security points, and checking his luggage. After some time, both will leave the airport; one in his car and the other on the plane. The one that is travelling may find himself in a completely different time zone, using a different currency, speaking a different language, dressing up for a different climate and enjoying a different cuisine. The other one will get into his car and go right back to the exact same routine as only a moment earlier. The difference between the two is that upon entering the airport, one boarded the plane and the other did not.

Shabbos and Yom Tov is our chance to board the plane. It is our opportunity to really transcend far beyond anything that is typically within our reach. Let us make the most of it and bask in HaShem’s presence enjoying every moment.

Good Shabbos,    מרדכי אפפעל