By: Steve Kirschenbaum
In this week’s Parsha, we have the Aseres HaDibros and we read certain Shinuim, certain changes in language from the first set of Dibros in Yisro to the second set in Va’eschanan; there are several explanations.
One of these differences is found in 5:11 ‘Shamor Es Yom HaShabbos L’Kadsho, Kaasher Tzivcha,’ keep Shabbos as you were previously commanded. Where was Shabbos previously commanded? The Gemara Shabbos 87b says that ‘Kaasher Tzivcha’ is a reference to Shabbos Marah. Klal Yisrael was commanded about Shabbos before Har Sinai in Marah but the Chumash feels the need to state ‘like you were commanded before.’ The question is what is Kaasher Tzivcha adding? The Torah says everything about Shabbos at Sinai. Why did Moshe Rabbeinu say keep the Torah like you were commanded — of course here at Sinai plus Kaasher Tzivcha, like you were commanded in Marah. Why mention the Kaasher Tzivcha?
Rav Hutner in Igeres 56 says a beautiful Pshat B’derech a Halacha and references a question that’s mentioned in a number of Poskim. The Aruch LaNer relates that there was a non-Jew in Yerushalayim who converted. The order of the conversion process is that the Bris precedes Tevilah; we wait for the Bris Milah to heal before the potential Ger goes into the Mikvah. At this point, the man had his Bris. Shabbos then arrived before he had gone to be Tovel in the Mikvah, and he came very proudly to Shul. The people in Shul told him why are you coming to Shul on Shabbos, you are still a non-Jew until you Tovel in the Mikvah? The Gemara says a Ger who does Bris Milah but not Tevila is not yet a Jew. So, not only are you not obligated to keep Shabbos, it’s forbidden for you to keep Shabbos. He went home and did Melacha as the Torah mandates. Subsequently, members of the Beis Din involved in his Geirus came to him and said not to do Melacha because after Milah, you should keep Shabbos. This led to confusion and there was a dispute. Beis Din said that after Milah he should observe Shabbos and the local Talmidei Chachamim said he is not yet a Jew and so it was forbidden for him to keep Shabbos; they agreed to send the question to Rav Yaakov Ettlinger, the Aruch LaNer in Germany.
The Aruch LaNer wrote a Teshuvah where he says that it’s interesting. On the one hand, it’s the Derech that he keeps Shabbos, but the Kasha is a good Kasha because he is not yet a Jew and it should be Assur at this point for him to observe Shabbos. Ultimately, the Aruch LaNer confirmed that the Minhag is for the man to keep Shabbos. He explained however that somehow the man is in an in-between stage but doesn’t have a precise explanation for why this is so.
Comes along Rav Hutner and teaches that we were full-fledged Jews at the time we received all the Mitzvos at Sinai, but we received Shabbos at Marah. Marah was the Madreiga of ‘Mal V’Lo Taval,’ the Jews in Mitzrayim had done Bris Milah but they had yet to come to Sinai, which was the equivalent of the Tevila that converted them into full-fledged Yidden. So, because Shabbos was commanded at Marah, therefore, a Ger SheMal V’Lo Taval is in that category and observes Shabbos.
Explains Rav Hutner on our Pasuk, why does the Chumash state Kaasher Tzivcha as a reference back to Marah? Somebody might say in Marah they were commanded in one set of rules of Shabbos which was superseded by Sinai where there was a new set of rules that were transmitted; the Marah Shabbos no longer exists; the Sinai Shabbos exists. Similarly, by Pesach in Mitzryaim, Klal Yisrael was allowed to own Chametz and offered a Korban Pesach and it was superseded by the commandment later to have the Pesach of Sinai which is without Chametz. You’re not allowed to own Chametz when bringing your Korban Pesach. The same thing here with Shabbos. Perhaps it was the Shabbos of Marah and it was superseded by the Shabbos of Sinai.
The Pasuk teaches us this is not the case. Shabbos at Sinai is exactly the same Shabbos as Marah. We are learning more rules, but it’s the same Shabbos of Marah. Therefore, a Ger SheMal V’Lo Taval should observe that Shabbos.
Perhaps this answers another question. In the Nussach of Mussaf on Shabbos, we say תכנת שבת. We thank G-d for giving us Shabbos. Then we say אז מסיני נצטוו עליה, that we were commanded Shabbos at Sinai. Why are we saying in the Shemoneh Esrei that every Mitzvah מסיני נצטוו עליה? What does it mean that at Sinai we were commanded when it wasn’t only at Sinai but was at Marah as well? The answer could be that the Halachos commanded at Sinai were a continuation of those Halachos previously transmitted at Marah.