Vaeschanan – Weighing Your Words

In this week’s Torah portion of Vaeschanan we find the repetition of the Aseres Hadibros (Ten Commandments). These are the same ten mitzvos specified in the Torah portion of Yisro in the book of Shemos; however there are some textual differences in the delivery of many of the mitzvos.

By the mitzvah of Shabbos, it says here: “And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and Hashem took you out from there with a mighty hand and outstretched arm, therefore Hashem your G-D commanded you to make the day of Shabbos” (Devarim, 5:15).

The Chizkuni explains: “The reason why it says here that one’s non-Jewish servant and maid servant shall rest, for through you and them working six days a week and resting on Shabbos you will remember that you were a slave like him in Egypt and Hashem redeemed you. But in the first set of commandments the reason was not explained because Hashem did not want to mention there humiliation at a time of their joyfulness (when the Torah was given at Har Sinai). And even though it writes by the first mitzvah in the first set of commandments “that I took you out of Egypt” (Shemos 20:2), but that was mentioned in a respectful manner.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
The Chizkuni is pointing out the reason why non-Jewish slaves who belong to Jews must rest on Shabbos with us Jews – is for our own sake; in order to strengthen our belief in Hashem, and that he redeemed us from Egypt. This seems to be a very fundamental belief in our religion which must be reiterated many times in order to become inculcated into our lives. Even though it should have been stated in the first set of Ten Commandments, it was left out in order to not shter [deter] the simcha of accepting the Torah. It was therefore better for Moshe to give the explanation at  his culminating discourse  which he gave to his nation at the end of his life.

If inculcating this aspect of faith in Hashem is so incredibly important, then why wasn’t it written in a respectful manner in the first set of commandments, just as it wrote “that I took you out of Egypt?”  That reference also alludes to their slavery, but does so in a nicer tone, to remind them in the first commandment of belief of Hashem’s oneness.

We must therefore say, that by speaking in a more respectful manner by the mitzvah of Shabbos, and not stating: “And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt,” it would not have  had the same impact, to strengthen this particular aspect of belief in Hashem.  The connection of one’s servant resting on Shabbos to us being slaves in Egypt and being redeemed by Hashem would not have been clearly articulated, and the impression would not have been a worthwhile impression, which would make enough of a difference to inculcate  this lesson into our lives.Therefore, even if it is an extremely important lesson to be repeated, and it could be taught in a more respectful but more subtle manner, then it is still not worth teaching it at that time since its full impact is not there.

We see how important it is to weigh our words and be sure what comes out of our mouth is the most effective message at the present time, even if it comes at the expense of delaying and not repeating a central message that  must be delivered.