75 words for 75 years of Israel – Shamor/Guard

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible! Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available now!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!

שָׁמוֹר

SHAMOR

SHA-MOR

GUARD

Guard God’s commandments and laws, which I enjoin upon you today, for your good.” (Deuteronomy 10:13)

לשמר את מצות יהוה ואת חקתיו אשר אנכי מצוך היום לטוב לך.

“God settled the man in the Garden of Eden, to work it and guard it.” (Genesis 2:15)

ויקח יהוה אלהים את האדם וינחהו בגן עדן לעבדה ולשמרה

Shamor, Hebrew for “guard,” is frequently used throughout the Bible to exhort the people of Israel to guard God’s commandments. In the Ten Commandments, they are told to “guard” Shabbat as well as to “remember” Shabbat. To “guard” Shabbat means keeping the detailed laws of the holy day of rest, and so a Jew who observes the laws of Shabbat is known as a shomer Shabbat, “one who guards Shabbat.” By contrast, “remembering Shabbat” means infusing Shabbat with holiness and spirituality. 

The sages explain that these two words, “guarding” and “remembering,” were spoken by God simultaneously during the giving of the Ten Commandments, an impossible feat for human beings. For God, “guarding” and “remembering” Shabbat are equally important and combine to create the ideal experience of the day of rest.

Shamor also describes Adam’s role in the Garden of Eden. “God settled man in the Garden of Eden, to work it and guard it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was given permission to use the natural resources of the world for his own benefit. But alongside this gift, man was also given the responsibility to guard and protect God’s world. As the sages say, “When God created Adam, He said to him: ‘See My creations, how beautiful they are. Make certain that you don’t ruin and destroy My world, for if you destroy it, there will be no one to mend it after you.’”

Alone among all of God’s creations, humanity has been entrusted with two holy tasks: to guard His word and to guard His world. 

The Israel Bible Team

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