7

The Torah (Exodus 20:8-11) commands:

ח: זָכוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ: ט: שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ: י: וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה' אֱלֹקיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל מְלָאכָה...: יא: כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה ה' אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ אֶת הַיָּם וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר בָּם וַיָּנַח בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי עַל כֵּן בֵּרַךְ ה' אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת וַיְקַדְּשֵׁהוּ

(8) Remember the Sabbath day and sanctify it. (9) Work for six days and perform all of your labor. (10) And the seventh day will be sabbath for God your Lord. Do not perform any labor... (11) For in six days God made the heaven and the Earth-the sea, and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. Therefore he blessed the Sabbath and sanctified it.

Evidently, the cycle of 6 days of work and 1 day of rest commemorates God's activities. I have assumed that 6 work days are the six days that God worked, and the seventh is the day that he rested.

Accordingly, upon receiving the command to keep Shabbat, the Jews either began resting on Saturday which had been preserved as the seventh day of the week-cycle since the creation of the world. Or, they were informed of which day had been the seventh and began resting on it.

My question is: is this assumption correct (and if so did they continue the existing week cycle, or had it strayed necessitating a realignment of the seventh day to the historical Shabbat), or perhaps was the Jewish halakhic week-cycle independent of the historical week.

An alternative possibility, if the halakhic week were independent of the historical week, would be that the Jewish people were commanded to work for 6 days starting at some point (perhaps the Sinaic revelation) and rest on the seventh. Accordingly, the seventh day would not necessarily be the same day of the day of God's rest.


related: this question which assumes that the Sabbath is aligned with the original day 7.

  • +1 very interesting. That would give the case in the gemara about the guy lost in the desert who doesn't know what day of the week it is a whole new reality:) But on a different note, some people just have a good head for this stuff and keep track well, and its not hard to imagine they kept track. For instance my Zeida was able to keep track of the days in the camps and was able to fast on Yom Kippur. – user6591 Jun 14 '15 at 22:59
  • @user6591 indeed! I thought the exact same thing. In fact, that Gemara was the impetus for this question because R. Bachye in last weeks parsha finds a hint to it in the words: וַיִּהְיוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּמִּדְבָּר וַיִּמְצְאוּ אִישׁ מְקֹשֵׁשׁ עֵצִים בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת. Kudos to your inspirational Zeida! Nevertheless, this isnt about one person with a good head, its about the days of the week through the millenia until maamad Har Sinai. – mevaqesh Jun 14 '15 at 23:28
  • @user6591 in a shiur, a talmid chacham noted that unlike Rashi who holds that the fellow lost in the dessert makes kiddush and havadalah miderabanan, so he remembers Shabbos, Rambam apparently holds that it is mideoraysa. I thought that if Rambam was correct regarding the intent of the Gemara, that the halacha would be understandable if Shabbos were originally determined by a work / rest cycle, as opposed to being aligned with the original Shabbos. – mevaqesh Jun 14 '15 at 23:32
  • just checked up the רבינו בחיי. interesting. As for the Rambam, that makes this even more lomdish and interesting. We oursleves to this day might not be aligned! Well, excepting the sambatyon river. .... – user6591 Jun 14 '15 at 23:52
  • @user6591 Is the Sambatyon phenomenon mentioned elsewhere? Perhaps it was just referenced for polemical purposes. – mevaqesh Jun 14 '15 at 23:59
5

Essentially the simplest answer is that, at the time of the Manna, they were told then "Today is Friday, gather double and save over because tomorrow is Shabbat and you won't find". (Beshalach).

So with the Manna cycle it became "known" which day actually was Shabbat and once that happened the Jews have kept a record of it ever since and therefore in the commonly kept 7-day week now that Saturday is the Shabbat (rather than Wednesday or whatever).

We will assume that after that first Shabbat of creation, the earth rotated on its axis an exact number of times defining days a number of times creating a Shabbat every 7th one and G-d that the one kept in the Wilderness was the actual Shabbat although it's possible no human was counting.

It may be that the tradition was passed from Adam down the generations (so the Patriarchs who kept the whole Torah knew when it was) or that it was forgotten and we were told at the time of the Manna, but either way we know for certain now.

  • +1 Ha, I see we both posted the same thing at the same time:) – user6591 Jun 15 '15 at 17:06
2

At the very least, from the parsha of מן in parshas Bishalach chapter 16 the days of Friday and Shabbos were clear. This was pre- Har Sinai.

2

Torah Sheleima Volume 8 #93 and Miluim 13 brings two opinions from Midrashim how Moshe knew when Shabbos was.

Midrash Yalkut Kurdistan (from manuscripts) to Exodus 2:11 says Moshe, while he was still a prince in Egypt, saw the Jews were overworked. He sat and calculated from Creation when Shabbos was. He asked Pharaoh for that day off for the Jews. Bereishis Rabasi page 13 from Rav Moshe HaDarshon also says this (Later it was proven he was right since that's the day Hashem commanded to keep Shabbos, plus the Munn didn't fall on that day).

Mechilta Beshalach Masechta Vayisah 81 says it was always known when Shabbos was, since creation through the Avos and Twelve Tribes.

שהיא סדורה ובאה מששת ימי בראשית עד שיתנה תורה לישראל

1

There is a medrash that Moshe Rabbeinu, while still a prince in Egypt convinced Par'o that he could get more work out of Bnai Yisrael by giving them a day off. When he was put in charge, he made that day off the same as the already established Shabbas.

Another point is that the commandment uses the hai hayediah (definitive "the") this implies that the specific seventh day had been passed down from Adam to Noah, to Shem, to Avraham, Yitzchat, Yaakov, Levi, Amram Aharon and Moshe.

  • I heard this Midrash myself. I wondered its origin. I disagree about your inference about the heh hayedia. At the minimum I would want it backed up by grammarians. (I am unconvinced because the yediah could be from the context of the aforementioned 6 days as opposed to the original week of creation.) – mevaqesh Jun 15 '15 at 3:49
0

According to the Sefer Hakuzri people all over the world have the same seven day week. This would show that it began somewhere out of the Torah.

There might be a pocket of people that made themselves another system but that almost proves the rule, that they purposely tried to change.

The people of China and India were not influenced by the Torah to change their week.

EDIT
Additionally, the following tells me that the day is specific:

וַיְבָ֤רֶךְ אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ אֹת֑וֹ כִּ֣י ב֤וֹ שָׁבַת֙ מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים לַעֲשֽׂוֹת

And the Lord blessed the seventh day and sanctified it; since He rested in it from all His work of which the Lord created and made.

This is long before anyone was told to commemorate it, and it tells of sanctifying the day itself.

  • I dont see how this answers the question. I implicitly assumed like the Kuzari that there was a global tradition on the 7 day week. I considered however that it may have shifted by a day and necessitated halachic adjustment. Furthermore, even if it didnt shift, the Torah doesnt explicitly peg the definition of Shabbos on the historical week. – mevaqesh Jun 15 '15 at 3:54
  • The point is that our seventh day is in sync with everyone else's. – HaLeiVi Jun 15 '15 at 4:07
  • please reread the question. – mevaqesh Jun 15 '15 at 5:16
  • Your proof-text is not a full-proof. For God sanctified a day millenia ago, he didnt sanctify this Saturday. Rather, one must say that by sanctifying a day in the past he sanctified all parallel days in the future. Fine. The question is, what makes a day in the future parallel to the historical Shabbos? (It could be that it is a multiple of seven days later, or that it is still commemorated as the 7th day correctly or incorrectly, or it could be that the Jews began their own cycle of seven and thusly paralleled the originally sanctified day. – mevaqesh Jun 15 '15 at 16:20
  • I think this diminishes your case drastically. If the Torah makes a point to mention that this specific day of the week was made holy and then we get a command to keep the Shabbos, there is little wiggle room. Couple this with the idea that we didn't invent the week, nor it's beginning. – HaLeiVi Jun 15 '15 at 16:28

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