שביבי אש
לסדר יתרו

וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל מֹשֶׁה אֲנִי חֹתֶנְךָ יִתְרוֹ בָּא אֵלֶיךָ וְאִשְׁתְּךָ וּשְׁנֵי בָנֶיהָ עִמָּהּ

And he said to Moses, I your father-in-law Jethro have come to you, and your wife, and her two sons with her. (Exodus 18:6)

Rashi comments: If you will not come out for my own sake, come out for the sake of your wife; if you will not come out for your wife's sake, come out for the sake of your two sons.

See the Siphtei Hakhamim whose explanation is not clear. But it appears to our master to say simply that the children of the righteous are dearer to them than their wives, as was the case with Jacob who placed his wives in front of his children before meeting Esau. However, everyone, including the righteous, certainly loves his wife more than he loves his father-in-law. So why did Jethro place himself before Moses's wife and Moses's sons? Should he not have said "behold, your sons, and your wife, and I, your father-in-law, are coming to you." That is why Rashi had to explain that Jethro's message to Moses was not to inform him of the happy news that they were coming to him. For if that were the reason, he would not have placed himself before his wife and sons. Rather, Jethro wanted Moses, himself, to come out to receive them. He therefore said come out to greet us for my sake. And if not for my sake, come out for your wife's sake, who is more important to you than am I. And if not for her sake, come out for the sake of her sons, who are the most beloved of all.

וַיָּבֹא אַהֲרֹן וְכֹל זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֶאֱכָל לֶחֶם עִם חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹקִים

And Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with (Exodus 18:12)

Rashi comments: And where had Moses gone? Was it not he who had gone out to meet Jethro and had been the cause of all the honor shown to him? But [the explanation of why he is not mentioned as having come to eat bread with Jethro is] that he was standing by and waiting upon them.

Then on the words "לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹקִים" Rashi comments: From here we deduce that one who takes part in ("נהנה" - has enjoyment from) a meal at which scholars sit [i.e. אֱלֹקִים = מֹשֶׁה] may be regarded as if he has enjoyment from the splendor of the שכינה (Berakhot 64a).

These two deductions are contradictory, so that to uphold one is to undermine the other. For if we say that Moshe was standing by and waiting upon them then we cannot say that "לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹקִים" means "before מֹשֶׁה" (as the Gemara in Berakhot 64a cited by Rashi interprets it) and therefore that everyone who takes part in a meal in which scholars sit (i.e. מֹשֶׁה) may be regarded as if he has enjoyment from the splendor of the Shehinah. On the other hand, if we say that "לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹקִים" means "before Moses" then there is no question about where Moses had gone. It is therefore a wonder that Rashi did not write his comment on "לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹקִים" (derived from Berakhot 64a) as an alternative explanation (דבר אחר) on the passage "ויבא אהרן". And this requires further reflection.

שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ

Six days shall you labor, and do all your work (Exodus 20:9)

Rashi comments: When the Sabbath comes it should be in your eyes as though all your work were done (completed), so that you should not think at all about work. And the Mekhilta adds: "Another interpretation: rest from thinking about work."

These two explanations are offered to answer the question why the Scripture had to include an explicit commandment to work on the other six days of the week (שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד) which is then reinforced by another commandment to "do all your work" (וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ). Rashi therefore interprets the commandment to be referring to the Sabbath, to say that when the Sabbath comes, even if all your work has not been done, it should seem to you as if your work had been completed. But we still must explain the beginning of the verse: "six days shall you labor." The Mekhilta therefore offers another interpretation which understands the verse as coming to prohibit even thinking about work on the Sabbath. Thus, the verse is warning us to do our work diligently in order to finish it during the six days of the work week so that there will be no need to think about our work on the Sabbath. The two explanations are actually complementary and may be understood as follows: "Six days shall you labor" commands us to do our work with energy in order to finish it entirely before the Sabbath. But should it happen that you are unable to finish it, then we are commanded to "do all your work." Let it seem to you as if all your work were done, so that you will not think about your work on the Sabbath.