Torah Tidbits

To Journey or Not To Journey? 

Shabbat Parashat B’Shallach

Shabbat Shira 

January 23, 2016 – 13Shevat 5776   

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In Parashat B’Shallach we read more about the epic journey of our people from slavery to freedom, from Egypt toward the Land of Israel.  The Parting of the Red Sea and our people’s Song of the Sea following their successful escape from the Egyptian army paints a picture of the trials and tribulations alongside the miracles and the insights gained on that journey.  And, that picture resonates in our hearts and minds as we relate those feelings to our own life journeys.

And yet, the Sefer Chinuch (which lists the mitzvoth that stem from each of our weekly Torah portions) lists only one mitzvah that stems from this week’s Torah portion.  That mitzvah is the mitzvah of NOT journeying far afield on the Sabbath, based a verse in our weekly parsha: “Mark that the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you two days’ food on the sixth day.  Let everyone remain where he is: let no one leave his place on the seventh day.” (Exodus 16:29)

This mitzvah became known as “Techum Shabbat” (the Sabbath Boundary).  Except for  dire emergency, on the Sabbath, we are not supposed to walk or travel farther than approximately three quarters of a mile beyond our city limits!  Instead, we are invited to stay put!  Sure, we may go for a walk, but not on a huge trek…

What a concept!

One day a week, on the Sabbath, on the holiest day of the week, Torah, in its wisdom, invites us to center ourselves by staying put; by taking time to appreciate the ground beneath our feet, close to home.

The mitzvah of Techum Shabbat reminds us to breathe in the spirit of Shabbat that celebrates creation itself;  to appreciate the wonder of life, of earth, and of existence, right where we are.

There will be plenty of time to journey far afield, to see the miracles of the world.

If we take the time to appreciate the miracle of the “here and now” on the Sabbath, we may find a renewed holiness that imbues our lives even as we resume our journeys after the Sabbath has ended.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Gilah Dror