Gentiles, Jews, and Shabbat (Part 1)

Rabbi Ethan Tucker

Parashat VaYakhel

One of the overarching questions behind Shabbat is just how comprehensive its effect on the world is meant to be. We are accustomed to thinking of Shabbat as a specifically Jewish practice, one that is not expected of Gentiles, and perhaps even off-limits to them. This often leads us to see the Torah as concerned only with Shabbat as a Jewish spiritual practice, a set of expectations that is specific to Jewish culture. But a closer look at the Torah reveals that the focus is often broader: we are charged to dream of a Shabbat where the world is entirely at rest, where Jews not only refrain from melakhah but also attempt to rid their environment of such activity entirely. (5776)