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Thought for the Day: Passing Our M'sora to the Next Generation

The first Shabbos after klal yisrael began to be fed by the the mahn, a few Jews went out to look for mahn.  Of course they didn't find any; mahn was only delivered six days a week.  The response is mind boggling: HaShem said to Moshe, "For how long will you (pl.) refuse to keep My mitzvos and My Torah?!"  (Sh'mos 16:28).  Startling not only because it was only a few Jews, not only because they didn't actually violate Shabbos (there was no mahn to be found, so none was retrieved), but also because Moshe Rabeinu, alav hashalom, was also included in the rebuke.

The fact that only a few Jews went out evoked a general response we see often; kol yisrael areivim zeh la'zeh -- all Jews are responsible for one another.  The that no actual violation occurred can also be answered; they certainly intended a violation and this is the inception of klal yisrael.  Such an intention following on the heels of all the miracles is certainly an indication that things are in danger of going very badly wrong.  With all that, how does Moshe get included in "refusing to keep My mitzvos and My Torah"?

The S'porno gives an answer that I had to read over and over.  I urge you to look yourself, the words are powerful.  The S'porno says (I am quoting because I don't want any doubt), "The sin of [not] keeping [Shabbos] was done by all of you.  Even though you didn't go out with them to collect, you caused them to go out." (Emphasis mine.)  The S'porno continues, "You didn't teach them hilchos Shabbos and what Shabbos is.  You only told them to collect [mahn] for six days, but not on the seventh day.  You told them that the seventh day is Shabbos, so there won't be [mahn] that day."

What should Moshe Rabeinu have done?  What does it mean "hilchos Shabbos and what Shabbos is"?  Moshe did, after all tell them not to go out and that there wouldn't be mahn that day.  Not enough, says the S'porno.  Hilchos Shabbos means to teach the details; collecting the mahn involves the malachos of tolesh (plucking) and carrying from r'shus to r'shus.  That's the details.  Then there is what Shabbos is.  It's not just a mitzvah, it is a precious gift from HaKadosh Baruch Hu; a gift He saved to give only to His treasured and beloved klal yisrael.  Of course, therefore, there is great reward for keeping it and suffering for denigrating it.  Without doubt, anyone who knows all that will certainly be scrupulous in guarding the Shabbos.


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