“For a period of six days, work may be
done, but the seventh day shall be holy to you,
a day of complete rest for G-d... You shall not
light a fire in any of your dwelling places on
the Sabbath day.” (Exodus 35:2-3)
The commandment to observe the Sabbath
is mentioned by the Torah immediately preceding
the commandment to build the Tabernacle. Rashi
states that the conjunction and order of the two
mitzvoth demonstrate that even though building
the Tabernacle is a holy act, it does not
override the Sabbath; the Children of Israel had
to cease construction on the Sabbath.
Many commentaries continue to question
the above verse. Why specifically was the
prohibition of lighting a fire singled out? The
Mishna in Tractate Shobbos (73A) categorizes
thirty nine different prohibitions on the
Sabbath including sifting, grinding, and
kneading, to name a few, that are just as
prohibited as lighting a fire.
The Daas Zekainim suggests that since
lighting or transferring a fire doesn’t involve
“hard labor”, one could reason (incorrectly)
that lighting a fire does not constitute a
violation of the Sabbath.
According to the Daas Zekeinim, the
Torah needed to specifically forbid lighting a
fire on the Sabbath because even the most
knowledgeable Halakhic (Jewish Law) scholars
could mistakenly believe that lighting a fire on
the Sabbath is permissible.
From here we learn that as important as
logic is to determine the law, logic alone is
insufficient. Had the Torah not specifically
prohibited lighting a fire on the Sabbath, we
could have reasoned otherwise because of the
minimal labor involved.
The specific warning of lighting or
transferring a fire on the Sabbath teaches us
the importance of understanding the guidelines
for the prohibitions of the Sabbath. It is very
easily mistakable to assume, based on our own
logic, what is right and wrong.
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