סדר יתרו

ויאמר אל משה אני חתנך יתרו בא אליך ואשׁתך ושׁני בניה עמה

And he said to Moses, I your father-in-law Jethro have come to you, and your wife, and her two sons with her.

Exodus 18:6

Rashi comments: If you will not come out for my own sake, come out for the sake of your wife; if not for your wife’s sake, come out for the sake of your two sons.

See the Siphtei Hakhamim whose explanation is not clear. But our master explains that the children of the righteous are even more precious to them than are their wives, as shown by Jacob who placed his wives in front of his children before they met Esau. However, everyone, including the righteous, certainly loves his wife more than he loves his father-in-law. So why did Jethro place himself before Moses’s wife and sons? Should he not have said “behold, your sons, and your wife, and I, your father-in-law, are coming to you.” That is why Rashi had to explain that Jethro’s message to Moses was not to inform him of the good news that they were coming to him. For if that were so, he would not have placed himself before his wife and sons. Rather, Jethro wanted Moses, himself, to come out to receive them. He therefore said come out to greet us for my sake. And if not for my sake, come out for the sake of your wife, who is more important to you than am I. And if not for her sake, come out for the sake of her sons, who are the most beloved of all. (שביבי אש)

ויבא אהרן וכל זקני ישראל לאכל לחם עם חתן משה לפני הא-להים

And Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with

Exodus 18:12

Rashi comments: And where was Moses? Was it not he who had gone out to meet Jethro and had been the cause of all the honor shown to him? But [the reason he is not mentioned among those who came to break bread with Jethro is] that he was standing by and waiting upon them.

Then concerning the words “לפני הא-להים” Rashi comments: From here we deduce that one [i.e. אלהים = משה] who partakes of a meal at which scholars sit may be regarded as if he has enjoyment from the splendor of the Divine Presence  (Berakhot 64a).

These two deductions are contradictory, so that to uphold one is to undermine the other. For if we say that Moshe was standing by and waiting upon them then we cannot say that “לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹקִים” means “before מֹשֶׁה” (as the Gemara in Berakhot 64a cited by Rashi interprets it) and therefore that everyone who takes part in a meal in which scholars sit (i.e. מֹשֶׁה) may be regarded as if he has enjoyment from the splendor of the Shehinah. On the other hand, if we say that “לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹקִים” means “before Moses” then there is no question about where Moses had gone. It is therefore a wonder that Rashi did not write his comment on “לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹקִים” (derived from Berakhot 64a) as an alternative explanation (דבר אחר) on the passage “ויבא אהרן”. And this requires further reflection. (שביבי אש)

שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ

Six days shall you labor, and do all your work

Exodus 20:9

Rashi comments: When the Sabbath comes it should be in your eyes as though all your work were done, so that you should not think at all about work. And the Mekhilta adds: “Another interpretation: rest from thinking about work.”

These two explanations are offered to answer the question why the Scripture had to include an explicit commandment to work on the other six days of the week (ש) which is then reinforced by another commandment to “ועשׂית כל מלאכתך” (do all your work). Rashi therefore interprets the commandment to be referring to the Sabbath, so that when the Sabbath comes, even if all your work has not been done, it should seem to you as if your work actually were done. But we still must explain the beginning of the verse: “שׁשת ימים תעבד” (six days shall you labor). The Mekhilta therefore offers another interpretation which understands the verse as coming to prohibit even thinking about work on the Sabbath. Thus, the verse is warning us to do our work diligently in order to finish it during the six days of the work week, so that it will be unnecessary to think about work on the Sabbath. The two explanations are actually complementary and may be understood as follows: “Six days shall you labor” commands us to do our work with energy in order to finish it entirely before the Sabbath. But should it happen that you are unable to finish it, then we are commanded to “do all your work,” as if to say, let it seem to you as if all your work were done, so that you need not think about your work on the Sabbath. (שביבי אש)

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