Having Shabbat on Our Minds Throughout the Week

Rabbi David Sutton June 14, 2018

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The text of the Ten Commandments appears twice in the Torah, and the two texts vary slightly from one another, reflecting the differences between the first Tablets and the second Tablets. The fourth commandment, the commandment of Shabbos, is formulated on the first Tablets as zachor es yom haShabbos — “Remember the day of Shabbos”; whereas the text on the second Tablets reads shamor es yom haShabbos — “Guard the day of Shabbos.” It is explained that these two formulations reflect the two basic aspects of Shabbos observance. The term zachor refers to what we need to do to make
the day of Shabbos special and distinct, whereas the command of shamor refers to the forbidden activities from which we must refrain on Shabbos.


These commands apply not only to Shabbos, but also to during the week. The Ramban comments that the command of zachor requires us to be mindful of Shabbos, and to verbally mention it, even during the week. We fulfill this command, the Ramban explains, by naming the other days of the week in reference to Shabbos: Yom rishon b’Shabbos, “Day one of the Sabbath [cycle]”; Yom sheni b’Shabbos, “Day two of the Sabbath [cycle]…” Similarly, the Mishnah Berurah (250) comments that when a person purchases an item for Shabbos, it is proper to verbally state that he makes this purchase for the honor of Shabbos.



And in Sheim Olam (1:4), the Chafetz Chaim writes that when a person speaks about events that happened in the past, he fulfills the mitzvah of zachor by dating these events in reference to Shabbos. The Chafetz Chaim adds that he knew of a certain Rabbi who would make a point of mentioning something about Shabbos each day while learning with his students. Anytime we are mindful of Shabbos and speak about Shabbos during the week, we fulfill this mitzvah of zachor es yom haShabbos.

The question arises, however, how do we fulfill the other mitzvahshamor — during the week? As mentioned, shamor refers to the prohibitions of Shabbos, the activities from which we must abstain during Shabbos. Seemingly, this mitzvah is applicable only on Shabbos itself, and not on the other days of the week. Is this indeed the case, or is there a way to fulfill this command during the workweek, just as we fulfill zachor throughout the week?

The Chafetz Chaim (Sheim Olam 1:6) explains that indeed, even shamor can and should be observed during the workweek. We fulfill this command, he writes, anytime we take Shabbos
into account when making our plans. If a person needs to travel, for example, and he schedules his trip in a way that ensures that he would not violate Shabbos, then he fulfills the mitzvah of shamor not only when he then observes Shabbos, but already at the time he makes his plans. When a person arranges his work schedule around Shabbos, making a point of completing his tasks early enough so he could get home with enough time before Shabbos, then he fulfills this mitzvah.


Elsewhere (Ahavas Chesed, Margenisa Tava, 30), the Chafetz Chaim adds that there is also another way we can fulfill this mitzvah during the workweek — by noting how the activities we do during the workweek cannot be done the same way on Shabbos. For example, when a person prepares a cup of tea, he should make a mental note to himself that on Shabbos he must make it in a different manner (by using a kli shelishi). If a person is dicing tomatoes for an Israeli salad, he should mention that on Shabbos he must dice them differently (in larger pieces).

Why is it so important to be mindful of Shabbos throughout the week? Why does it not suffice to simply make the practical preparations that are necessary? What is the basis of this requirement to have Shabbos in our minds every day? Rabbi Eliyahu of Izmir in his commentary to Chumash (Parashas Ki Sisa) quotes a Midrash that states that initially, G-d created not seven 24-hour days, but six 28-hours days. But after the world’s creation, Time came before the Almighty and asked for a king. All other realms of creation have rulers — the lion is the king of wildlife, the bull is the king of domesticated animals, the eagle is the king of birds, and so on. Time, too, wanted a king. In response, Hashem told each day to donate four hours toward a seventh day, Shabbos, which would be the “king” over Time.


Rabbi Eliyahu of Izmir noted that it emerges from this Midrash that each day contributed part of itself to Shabbos. We should not view Shabbos as simply the culmination of the week, the day that comes after the week. Rather, Shabbos contains a part of every day. Hence, each day of the week is integrally connected to Shabbos. And for this reason, we are to apply the commands of shamor and zachor not only on Shabbos, but each day throughout the week. Since Shabbos is rooted in the other six days, each day is inherently linked to Shabbos, and we are therefore commanded to be mindful of Shabbos each and every day, both in regard to zachor, by mentioning Shabbos, and in regard to shamor, by being aware of the Shabbos prohibitions.


Reproduced from Living Shabbos by Rabbi David Sutton

ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications Ltd. Reprinted with permission.