Shabbat is more than a day of refraining from worldly activity.

When experienced to its spiritual fullest, its holiness enlightens all other days of the week.

We invite you to enhance your Shabbat with these words of Torah.


Torah laws spinning around

Parshas Mishpatim

Parshas Mishpatim

Leff, Dr. Nosson Chayim ZT"L
February 9, 2024

Excerpts from the Teaching:

“The Sfas Emes… [works] … with the following text (Shemos 23:20- 21): ‘Hi’nei ano’chi sholei’ach mal’ach le’faneh’cha lish’morcha … hi’sha’mer mi’pahnav, al tah’mehr bo …’ (ArtScroll: ‘Behold! I send an angel before you to protect you… do not rebel against him… ‘)


…The Sfas Emes’s analysis… on the links and allusions that,… connect two words. One word is ‘mal’ach‘ (ArtScroll: ‘angel’; more generally, a messenger…), …acting totally on behalf of the one who charges him/her with [the] task. The other word is: ‘mela’cha‘, — mission or task. The context in which the word me’la’cha often appears is the laws of Shabbos. On Shabbos,we may not do mela’chos — activities in which a person may engage during “yemei ha’ma’aseh” — the weekdays.


The Sfas Emes … tell[s] us that on [the] days, when we are engaged in mela’chos, also contain kedusha (sanctity). The kedusha is hidden in the… activities… we do during those six days of ‘asiya’(activity). …We should be aware that… doing melacha also enables us to be in contact with HaShem. …Just as the mala’chim are sent to this world to perform missions for HaShem, so too HaShem sent those activities to the world to enable us to fulfill His will. We know that HaShem’s Presence permeates the world. 


The Sfas Emes explains that to match His Omnipresence, HaShem has given us mitzvos in all areas of human activity. Thus, when we are engaged in our weekday activities, we can still connect with HaShem’s Presence.


…The material components of this world are a garment in which HaShem has cloaked His will, … During the week, we can relate to HaShem only via the mela’chos that we do with our asiya.


By contrast, the Sfas Emes points out, on Shabbos, we can interact with HaShem directly. On Shabbos, HaShem’s Presence is not cloaked with the activities of ma’aseh.


Accordingly, the Torah proceeds from our interaction with the mal’ach (posuk 20, as quoted above) to our Avoda, pasuk 25: ‘Ve’avadetem es HaShem‘ (‘And you shall serve Ha Shem’).


The Sfas Emes applies this framework to explain a key feature of our davening on Shabbos. During the week… [most] of our prayer consists of petitions for Divine help. …our tefilos on Shabbos do not include such requests. Why so? The Sfas Emes explains that our more intimate relationship with HaShem onShabbos obviates the need to petition Him then.


…Why does our prayer on the weekdays spend so much time asking HaShem to fulfill our requests? … He knows our needs better than we do. Rather the purpose of our petitioning HaShem is to remind ourselves of our utter dependence on Him. On Shabbos we can be mindful of our relationship with HaShem even without our petitions.”