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The 99% and the 1%

Friday, 10 February, 2012 - 1:00 pm

One of the most famous commandments of the Torah is the instruction to observe the Sabbath. Shabbat is a sacred Jewish tradition that has--in some form--been embraced by most of the world.

But how does one observe Shabbat?

The Fourth Commandment is unique amongst the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments appear – virtually word for word – in both Exodus Chapter 20 and Deuteronomy Chapter 5. One glaring change is the opening word of the Fourth Commandment. In Exodus we are commanded to, “Remember the Shabbat.” In Deuteronomy we are enjoined to, “Keep the Shabbat.”

Our Sages teach that at Sinai G-d pronounced both words simultaneously. The twofold instruction is due to the dual observance of Shabbat. One part of Shabbat is refraining from creative work to achieve rest. This is keeping the Shabbat. The second element of Shabbat is observed through proactive rituals and celebration – remembering Shabbat.

For some of us – the wealthy in particular – the remembering part of Shabbat comes easier. The delicacies and fine clothing are within easy reach. But the temptation to strike a business deal is huge.

For others – especially the less well-to-do – refraining from work is a pleasure. We don’t have much greater potential to earn on Shabbat anyway, so we look forward to a day of tranquility. But the expense of dressing our best, hosting a lavish meal and ritual accoutrements – all seem to add up rather quickly.

We all have our own challenges. In G-d’s eyes, the value and sacrifice of Shabbat of the 1% and the 99% is equally treasured.

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