ישיבת כרם ביבנה

The Sanctity of Shabbat and of the Sanctuary

הרב אריה שטרן

There is a deep, inherent connection between Shabbat and the Sanctuary, between the sacred day and the sacred place. This idea is emphasized in Parshat Kedoshim: "My Sabbaths you shall observe and My Sanctuary you shall fear – I am Hashem." (Vayikra 19:30)

The Gemara in Masechet Yevamot (6a) teaches:

Could it be that a person should fear the Sanctuary [itself]? The Torah says, "My Sabbaths you shall observe and My Sanctuary you shall fear." – "Observance" is said regarding Shabbat and "fear" is said regarding the Sanctuary. Just as with the observance of Shabbat – it is not Shabbat that you fear, but the One Who warned about Shabbat, so, too, the fear that is said regarding the Sanctuary – it is not the Sanctuary that you fear, but the One Who warned about the Sanctuary.

Why is there room to think that the Sanctuary itself should be feared, whereas regarding Shabbat it is obvious that we fear the One Who warned about Shabbat?

The sanctity of Shabbat is fixed and self-sustained, without any input of man. It was established at the conclusion of the creation of the world: "G-d blessed the seventh day and sanctified it" (Bereishit 2:3), and from then till eternity the sanctity is fixed on the day of Shabbat. However, the Sanctuary is built by people. We are commanded to make a Sanctuary: "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me – so that I may dwell among them." (Shemot 25:8) Therefore Yisrael might mistakenly think that there are two forms of sanctity – the sanctity formed in heaven, and the sanctity formed on earth. The first sanctity is a Divine creation, and the other sanctity is a human creation. Therefore the Gemara teaches not to differentiate between the sanctity of Shabbat and the sanctity of the Temple. Kedusha always originates from the Divine creation. Only G-d is holy, and He is the source of all holiness.

"Holy, holy, holy is Hashem." (Yeshaya 6:3) – He is holy and nothing else.

Certainly there is sanctity in the Tabernacle and the Temple that Israel built. However, this sanctity emanates from the fact that Bnei Yisrael did exactly as G-d commanded Moshe, and thereby they merited the Divine Presence. This is what formed the sanctity. People prepare the vessels, and then the heavenly sanctity is conferred upon them. When Am Yisrael sinned by making the golden calf, they had a problem in understanding this principle. Can people form a divine creation and say, "These are your gods?" (Shemot 32:4) Moshe sensed that there was a fundamental problem here. Therefore, he broke the Tablets to teach them that if they think to detach the Torah from its Divine source – the Torah has no sanctity and it is possible to break it. Only because the Torah is given from heaven does the Torah have sanctity, and only through actions that are based on Divine command can one experience sanctity and bless, "Who commanded us with His mitzvot."

"Hashem alone will be exalted on that day." (Yeshaya 2:11) In the future all people of the world will recognize that Hashem alone is G-d, and that He is the source of all sanctity. The more we faithfully observe His mitzvot with dedication, the more we will merit an increase of sanctity emanating from the true source of sanctity!

 

 

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