Sunday, August 18, 2013

Moshe and Shabbat


[Note: Our Shabbat morning amidah includes a poem, "Moshe will rejoice in the gift of his portion".]

"'Moshe will rejoice', for when our ancestors were in Egypt and Moshe saw the weight of the slavery upon them, he requested that Pharaoh give one day each week for them to rest. Pharaoh gave it to him, and Moshe selected the seventh day.

"When the Jews were instructed to observe Shabbat, Moshe rejoiced in that he had selected it. This is 'Moshe will rejoice in the gift of his portion.'"

(Tur Orach Chaim 281 [note: the Tur continues to offer an  additional explanation)

ישמח משה כשהיו אבותינו במצרים וראה משה כובד השיעבוד שהכבידו עליהם בקש מפרעה שיתן להם יום אחד בשבוע שינוחו בו ונתנו לו ובחר ביום השביעי וכאשר נצטוו על יום השבת שמח משה שבחר בו וזהו ישמח משה במתנת חלקו

Have a great day,


  1. I don't follow this first explanation of the Tur. Yismach Moshe was written after the Torah was given. So even with this idea, it's still in the past tense compared to when we're speaking.

    Second, how does this thought fit the words of explanation we give in the next line "ki eved ne'eman karaso lo -- because You called him a 'faithful servant'" (or maybe that he would be happy "when You called ...", translating "ki" as when)? What does Moshe's learning that he chose well have to do with being an eved ne'eman?

    Side-note, in Torah Hebrew (I'm not writing biblical Hebrew, as I don't know if the shift happened before or after the writing of Esther), "yismakh" isn't future tense but imperfective aspect. And therefore both Teimani mesorah and lehavdil Genesius say "vayomer" would be translated "he was saying" -- the "yomer" being "was saying" (imperfective), and the leading vav anchoring to the point in the past we were up to in the story. "Amar" -- said (past perfect), "vayomer" -- was saying (past imperfect).

    So, no sources or anything, but when I daven these words (on those weeks my brain is engaged in what I'm saying), I think "Moshe continues to take joy in the giving of his portion, because You called him a 'reliable servant'".... Which then needs more explanation, but that's a totally different topic than the Tur.

    Also, in contast to the second interpretation in the Tur, I would make a point of noting that if we look at the words, we aren't so much saying that Moshe is happy with the gift (cheftza) as with the giving (pe'ula).

  2. Hello R' Micha,

    Two notes:
    1. I don't think the Tur was picking up on "Yismach" as future; I think he was trying to figure out why Shabbos, in particular, would bring Moshe joy.

    2. Perhaps Moshe's anticipation of Shabbos is part of what characterizes him as eved ne'eman?