“Violate One Shabbat”

“Ve-shameru Benei Yisrael et ha-Shabbat, la-asot et ha-Shabbat le-dorotam berit olam – And the Children of Israel shall guard the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath for all their generations an eternal covenant.” (Shemot 31:16)

The Talmud (Yoma 85b) offers this verse as one of the sources for the rule that if necessary, one can violate Shabbat to save a life. “Violate one Shabbat so that he can keep many Shabbatot.” Whether this is derived from word “ha-Shabbat” (that it is more important to maintain Shabbat the entity than ensure a single Shabbat is kept at the cost of human life), or the desire for the Shabbat to last “for all their generations” (Or HaChaim), the import is the same. At least when it comes to Shabbat, we are instructed to not only look at our actions narrowly, but to take the bigger picture into account. It is better from the perspective of Shabbat for a single Shabbat to be desecrated than lose the valuable life of a Jew who will guard the message of Shabbat for a lifetime. 

The rest of the dvar Torah is available in this week’s Toronto Torah:here.

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