Chapter “Vaykhel”

שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים, תֵּעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי יִהְיֶה לָכֶם
קֹדֶשׁ שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן, לַיהוָה; כָּל-הָעֹשֶׂה בוֹ מְלָאכָה, יוּמָת.

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a shabbos of solemn rest to the LORD; whosoever doeth any work therein shall be put to death.

Many people see a discrepancy, even a contradiction between this pasuk (verse) and the way shabbos is practiced today. After all what does not watching T.V. have to do with resting? Wasn’t modern technology (i.e. electricity) created to make our lives easier? So why on the day of rest of all days would we be forbidden to make use of it?

When one looks at the above quoted verse it’s easy to see a parallelism with the story of creation. Just like god created the world for six days and then rested on the seventh, so too shall man work for six days and rest on the seventh. Clearly the type of work that G-d is commanding the Jewish people not to do on shabbos is similar to the type of work he did during creation. The obvious question of course is what type of work is this?

Our sages teach us that this work is the same type of work that was required to build the mishkan, the tabernacle. They derive this form the fact that one of the descriptions of the building of the mishkan is juxtaposed to this commandment of keeping the shabbos. The reason that this type of work in particular was singled out was because, as the Tanchunma explains, the building of the mishkan was a microcosm of creation.

So on shabbos we take a rest from creative (and destructive) acts, just as G-d did on the seventh day of creation. How do we know where to draw the line as to what we can and can’t do? We base it off of what was done during the building mishkan, because the mishkan was a microcosm creation. Sure watching T.V. might be more relaxing than going to synagogue in the morning, but that’s not what shabbos is all about. Shabbos is a day of rest, rest from creative activities, not service to G-d. Yes it can and should be relaxing, but that’s not what the essence of the day is, that’s now what is meant by shabbos being a day of “solemn rest”.

– Alex Likhtenstein