Religion & Beliefs

Grow Up! It’s Shabbos!

This is a special Shabbat reserved for those of you with mommy and daddy issues. From Kedoshim (Leviticus 19), the Eternal says, “Every person should revere his mother and father and you should keep my Shabbat, I am the Eternal … Read More

By / May 28, 2007

This is a special Shabbat reserved for those of you with mommy and daddy issues. From Kedoshim (Leviticus 19), the Eternal says, “Every person should revere his mother and father and you should keep my Shabbat, I am the Eternal your God.” This one simple line, so seemingly uncomplex, gives rise to a variety of questions. One of them is: why are these two seemingly separate mitzvot linked in the text–to honor your mother and father and to honor the Shabbat? The Hatam Sofer attempts to answer this question quite cleverly and with a hint toward all those future therapy bills that people would be paying. Echoing a cry of distress from the Psalmist who wrote in Psalm 27, “for though my mother and my father have forsaken me, the Eternal will take me up,” the Hatam Sofer argues that one parents indeed bring a person into the world; but once we reach a certain critical age, isn’t it true that we navigate our moral universe “independently” or, in religious terms, with God? And therefore, just as one leaves the original source of the “making,” namely the biological enterprise of the family home, we go out on our own to complete the work and do so by imitating God and resting from the work on the seventh day. Shabbat completes for the individual, in existential terms, what was begun by the parents. I see a kind of in-your-face marketing campaign: Grow up! It’s Shabbos! The Hatam Sofer, appropriately, is more sober. He said that each complements the other in perfect form–the honor due to parents leading one to observe Shabbat; and the rest on Shabbat helping guide us back, in the sublime spirit of the day, to the wonder of creation and the birth of our existence in this world. Each in relation to the other, in this portion, an expression of holiness, a trace of the Divine in the clear language of Torah.