Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Can You Have a Peaceful Shabbat Without Fences

The ancient rabbis taught: “Build a fence around the Torah.”

It is a strange and curious notion. Erect a fence around a book?

Does the Torah require such safekeeping? Are we meant to lock it within the Holy Ark? While the Torah scroll should be safeguarded, its essence does not require such protection. It is meant to be lived. The Torah is intended to be brought into the world.

It is brought into the world wrapped in a hedge.

We are to build fences around the Torah’s biblical laws so that we do not transgress its commandments.  On the Sabbath, for example, one is prohibited from spending money. Better not to carry it, the rabbis reasoned. Don’t even pick up your wallet. One fence was constructed–and then even more and yet more.

The day of rest was walled off from any inadvertent work....

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