Public Desecration of the Sabbath and Tzitzit

Jun 7, 2015

וַיִּהְיוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּמִּדְבָּר וַיִּמְצְאוּ אִישׁ מְקֹשֵׁשׁ עֵצִים בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת׃

Once, when the Israelites were in the wilderness, they came upon a man gathering wood on the Shabbat day.

Numbers 15:32

Numbers 15:45

A brief story is related in which an individual is caught collecting wood on the Sabbath, an act that is forbidden. The people bring the man before Moses, for they do not know what to do with him. God instructs Moses to execute the sinner by stoning him outside the camp.


The portion ends with the command to tie fringes onto the corners of all their four-cornered garments, including one thread of turquoise, or tekhelet. The purpose of the fringes, the Torah tells us, is to remind the wearer of the commandments of the Torah.


The Israel Bible explains the significance of the blue thread. The color is reminiscent of the sky, and by extension, God. For close to 1500 years, the source of the special dye for this thread was lost to the world, yet now, marine biologists and Talmudic scholars together have discovered the snail from which the dye is made off the coast of Haifa. Today, people are wearing tekhelet again, as the Bible comes to life in Israel.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the story of the wood-gatherer is included in the Bible? Why couldn’t the Torah just list the consequence for breaking the Sabbath among the other laws of the day?

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