Pearls of Rashi – Beshalach

This week’s Torah portion, tells us how Hashem caused food to rain from the sky. He sustained us with this food, called Manna (or Mon in Hebrew) for the 40 years that we spent in the wilderness. Every day a portion of Mon which was enough for each household would fall from the sky for each of us. The one exception was Shabbos. The Torah tells us that (Shemos 16:29) “See that the Lord has given you the Shabbos. Therefore, on Friday, He gives you (enough) bread for two days. Let each man remain in his place. No one may leave his place on Shabbos.” In other words, on Friday we received a double portion; one for Friday and the other for Shabbos. This is because no Manna would fall on Shabbos. Rashi cites the words from the verse “no one may leave his place,” and explains that “These are the 2,000 cubits[1] of the Shabbos limits …”

The word “Torah” means a teaching. Every word of Torah contains a practical lesson for each of us in our daily lives. What lesson can we derive from the prohibition against leaving our immediate area on Shabbos?

The Torah tells us (Shemos 20:9) that “Six days may you work and perform all of your labor.” Throughout the weekdays, we are permitted to engage in mundane, weekday activities. However, the Torah does provide one stipulation. We are taught (Tehillim 128:2) that “If you eat of the toil of your hands, you are praiseworthy and it is good for you.” It is true that Hashem created the world in such a manner that we must support ourselves by performing mundane activities. Nevertheless, during the six days of the week we must limit ourselves to performing these activities with the “toil of our hands.” However, at the same time that we are earning a living, our heads and our hearts must be immersed in our true purpose, namely Torah and Mitzvos.

However, this only applies to the weekdays. What about Shabbos? How must we treat days which are consecrated solely to the study of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos? During these days, no one may leave his place. Even one’s feet may not engage in mundane matters to leave his true place. The real place of every Jew is the spiritual. Our entire being, head, heart, hands and feet must be engaged in Torah and Mitzvos to the exclusion of everything else.

May we merit the era which is entirely Shabbos, with the coming of our righteous redeemer now!

Wishing you a good Shabbos and a happy Tu Bishvat!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn


[1]. These 2,000 cubits are approximately the equivalent of 3,000 feet. For a practical application of this, ask your local orthodox rabbi.

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