The Double Ten Commandments and Their Geula Sabbath Message for the Nations

Deuteronomy 5

❝Observe the Shabbat day and keep it holy, as Hashem your God has commanded you.❞ Deuteronomy 5:12

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A prominent rabbi made a close reading of the Ten Commandments and revealed a message in  the fourth commandment concerning the sabbath that holds a powerful imperative for the nations that may be the key to bringing the Final redemption.

The Ten Commandments are repeated twice in the Torah: Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21. The verses mandating sabbath observance are significantly different: 

“Remember the Shabbat day and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).”

“Observe the Shabbat day and keep it holy, as Hashem your God has commanded you (Deuteronomy 5:12).”

Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, head of the Sanhedrin’s Noahide Court and of the Dvar Yerushalayim Yeshiva, understood an important message in these two different versions of the commandment.

“The first set of tablets were written by God and the commandment to remember the Sabbath was a universal commandment,” Rabbi Schwartz explained. “That is to ‘remember’ the Sabbath. Since it was universal, it was followed by a description of creation.”

“For in six days Hashem made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore Hashem blessed the Shabbat day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:11).”

Rabbi Schwartz explained that many of the problems facing the world today are due to failure to recognize the Sabbath.

“The theory of evolution is the worst form of heresy existing today,” Rabbi Schwartz explained. “There has never been anything that so directly attempted to deny the existence of God and in a manner that makes no logical sense. It is quite simply the battle between the servants of God and Amalek. Amalek came to destroy faith in God and the Sabbath is the sign that we have faith in God. The two cannot co-exist.”

The rabbi went on to explain that the Sabbath, observed on its proper day and in the proper manner, is a weekly affirmation of God creating the world. Despite a seven-day week being universally observed throughout all cultures, both Islam and Christianity changed the specific day of the Sabbath.

“Everyone agrees that there was a beginning, hence the seven day week. But science attributes it to a Big Bang, saying that God did not create the world. The Sabbath is not a random or man-made day,” the rabbi emphasized. “God Himself established it as part of the seven-day process of creation. Every seven days since the world was created has been the Sabbath. Changing it is to replace God, take him out of creation.”

“The commandment in Deuteronomy on the tablets written by Moses was a message specifically for the Jews to ‘observe’ the Sabbath,” Rabbi Schwartz said, noting that it was followed by a description of God taking the Jews out of Egypt.

“Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and Hashem your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore Hashem your God has commanded you to observe the Shabbat day (Deuteronomy 5:15).”

In Halacha (Jewish law), the two different verbs relating to the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments denote two different ways to relate to the obligation of the Sabbath: ‘to remember’ refers to the positive commandments of keeping the Sabbath and ‘to observe’ relates to the negative commandments of refraining from labor or acts that are restricted on the Sabbath.

“By not instructing the nations in their requirement to ‘remember the Sabbath’, by actually preventing them from taking part in the Sabbath, the Jews have prevented the full light of Moshiach (Messiah) from being revealed in the world,” Rabbi Schwartz said.

The dual celebration has particular significance as it is written in the Talmud (Shabbat 118b): Rav Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on bar Yochai: If Israel were to keep two Shabbatot according to the laws [of Shabbat], they would be redeemed immediately. This is hinted at by the Prophet Isaiah:

“As for the foreigners Who attach themselves to Hashem, To minister to Him, And to love the name of Hashem, To be His servants— All who keep the Shabbat and do not profane it, And who hold fast to My covenant— I will bring them to My sacred mount And let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices Shall be welcome on My mizbayach; For My House shall be called A house of prayer for all peoples(Isaiah 56:6-7).”

Rabbi Schwartz explained that one possible understanding of this section of the Talmud is that one Shabbat is when the Jews keep the sabbath and the double aspect of Shabbat will be revealed when the nations also observe the Shabbat.

Rabbi Schwartz explained that these two different versions of the Sabbath commandment generate two different types of Sabbaths; one for Jews and one for the nations. The Jews are required to both ‘remember’ and ‘observe’, performing the positive commandments as well as refraining from the 39 forbidden forms of labor. The positive mitzvah of remembering the Sabbath is encompassed in reciting kiddush (sanctifying) the Sabbath, usually performed over a glass of wine. He also recommended that non-Jews light two candles to bring in the Sabbath. This is typically performed by women. The rabbi ruled that if a non-Jew does so for the Sabbath at the proper time and day, a blessing including the name of God may be recited.

The rabbi also recommended that the sanctity of the Sabbath is enhanced by two meals, one on Friday evening and the other on Saturday afternoon, that include bread, preferably eaten as a family. The rabbi also recommended that the meal be accompanied by joyous singing at the table.

“It is not a coincidence that in this era when people are not keeping the Sabbath, even erring in which day is the Sabbath, that families are falling apart,” Rabbi Schwartz said.

Rabbi Schwartz’s statement that non-Jews should keep the Sabbath is the opposite of many Halachic (Torah law) authorities who rule that it is forbidden for non-Jews to keep the Sabbath.

When the Halacha states that it is forbidden for a non-Jew to keep the Sabbath, it is referring to a non-Jew that does not keep the Noahide laws,” he explained, citing a ruling by Rabbi Moses Schreiber, a leading Halachic authority from the nineteenth century known as the Chatam Sofer. This opinion was upheld by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan in the Mishna Berura (Section 304) in the 20th century.

“But a non-Jew who has accepted upon himself to keep the Noahide laws is permitted to keep the Sabbath,” the rabbi concluded.

It should be noted that Rabbi Schwartz is highly respected in the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) world as well as in Israeli society at large. In addition to his qualifications listed above, Rabbi Schwartz has authored over 200 books and was awarded the Moskowitz prize in Jerusalem. His Halachic opinions are unimpeachable. Nonetheless, the rabbi understands that his statements will not be accepted by many, both in the Jewish world as well as the non-Jewish world.

“It is time for a revolution in the world,” Rabbi Schwartz said. “Even the secular people who don’t believe in God know the world is in danger, though they blame it on things like Global Warming. The Sabbath is a precious gift that Hashem gave to the Jews and it demands respect. But it is time religious Jews showed the nations how they can relate to their Creator.”

The rabbi cited Psalm 126:

“Our mouths shall be filled with laughter, our tongues, with songs of joy. Then shall they say among the nations, ‘Hashem has done great things for them!’ Hashem will do great things for us and we shall rejoice (Psalms 126:2-3).”

“It may be that by seeing how the other nations come to value the Sabbath, many Jews will also do tshuva and learn how precious is this gift that Hashem gave us,” Rabbi Schwartz said.

The rabbi noted that on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, Jews read the Book of Jonah.“This is to remind us that, like Jonah, Jews are meant to help the nations do tshuva (repent),” Rabbi Schwartz said. “But we read the story to remind us that just like Jonah, Jews are reluctant and run away, even trying to hide from God, rather than do this.”

Comments ( 3 )

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  • Deborah Kriss

    This resonated in my head, then heart then soul. To remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy is a commandment that Adonai Elohim first gave to His Chosen who were then to share and bless the Nations with this commandment. Thank you Rabbi for understanding the yearning in the Nations for some direction in ways that we too can honor the Sabbath day and keep it Holy.

  • Rachel B

    Wow! This is REALLY GOOD! I would like to share this and also read some of Rabbi Schwartz’s books.

  • Ángel D Ayala Santos

    Thanks

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