Vayeshev 5772 – Shomer Mitzvos/Shomer Shabbos

“and his father ‘shamor’ the matter”
shamor – he waited and looked forward when it would come – RASHI

What does it mean to be Shomer Mitzvos? What does it mean to be Shomer Shabbos?

The way these are usually interpreted is to mean ‘an observer of mitzvos’ or ‘an observer of Shabbos’. I think we can learn a deeper meaning to these terms from a Rashi in this week’s parsha. Rashi explains the word Shomer (same root as Shamor) means to wait and look forward to when the time will come. Therefore, to be Shomer Mitzvos means to wait for the mitzvos or to be excited for the mitzvos.

Yaakov Avinu in last week’s parsha mentions that he fulfilled all of the mitzvos when he lived with Lavan but did not learn from his ways. I recently heard an interesting interpretation to this verse. Lavan loved money and would do anything to get money. He had such excitement when the opportunity came for him to get a few dollars! Yaakov was saying that while he lived with Lavan he was able to fulfill all of the mitzvos, but he did not have the same excitement as Lavan had. Yaakov did not learn to be excited over the mitzvos like Lavan was over money. Yaakov was saying this was something he was lacking because to be fully Shomer Mitzvos, we need to have the excitement along with the performance.

A person can fulfill all of the commandments of Shabbos and still not fully be Shomer Shabbos. In the Gemara it is recorded that Shammai would look forward to Shabbos every day during the week. If he was in a store and found nice food, he would save it for Shabbos. If later in the week he found something better to eat, he would eat the first food and save the second one for Shabbos. Everyday he would think about Shabbos. He showed that Shabbos is a very special day and something to look forward to.

In the 1950s, the boys in the Ponevitch Yeshiva would stay up all 25 hours of Shabbos! They would not sleep at all. This is because they had such a love for the day that they did not want to miss a single moment of it! Even though I do not know of anyone who stays up the entire Shabbos nowadays, there is a great lesson we can learn from these yeshiva boys about the love we should have for Shabbos. Shabbos is not just a day to catch up on our sleep – it is a joyous day to celebrate with excitement.

Judaism is more than just rituals. We can fulfill all of the commandments, but still not be properly observing them. We need to not only perform mitzvos but do them with enthusiasm. We should show how much we truly love them. If people jump up and down when their football team wins, how much more so should we jump up and down when we do a chesed, daven, learn, or do any mitzvah!

Good Shabbos!
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