"You did not give it, Hashem our Elokim, to the nations of
the lands, nor did You make it the inheritance, our King, of
the worshipers of graven idols. And in its rest the
uncircumcised shall not abide" (Shemoneh Esrei, Shacharis
The Brisker Rav asks about the seeming redundancy of this
text. If the tefillah states that Hashem did not give
the Shabbos to the nations of the lands, we understand from
that alone that the uncircumcised (the non-Jews), will not
abide in its rest.
Shabbos, explains the Rav, embraces two matters: First are
the issurim of Shabbos, that is, what Hashem
prohibited us from doing. Second is menuchas Shabbos,
the rest of Shabbos, which is a special creation within the
world's total creation. Just as the world came into being
during the Six Days of Creation, so did this second aspect of
Shabbos, which is the menuchah we experience on
Shabbos. The rest that comes on Shabbos is the final part of
the creation (see Rashi, Bereishis 2:2).
Now we understand that the tefillah is not at all
repetitious. We start by saying that Hashem did not give the
issurim and mitzvos of Shabbos to the non-Jews, and
they are even explicitly excluded from these--"You did not
give it, Hashem our Elokim, to the nations of the lands."
Afterward the tefillah states that Hashem did not even
impart the menuchah of Shabbos to them--"and in its
rest the uncircumcised shall not abide."
We emphasize that non-Jews do not have any menuchah,
since we might have thought that just as they benefit from
the other things created during the Six Days of the Creation,
such as the sun, the oceans, and the animals, so they would
have rest on Shabbos. The tefillah therefore stresses
that not only are they divorced from the mitzvos of Shabbos,
but also the creation called "rest," menuchas hanefesh
on Shabbos, is likewise reserved only for Jews.
Another part of this tefillah also needs to be better
understood. Although the Brisker Rav resolved the above
question of repetition, it remains to be understood why we
add in our tefillah "nor did You make it the
inheritance, our King, of the worshipers of graven idols." Do
we not know this from the beginning of the tefillah,
"You did not give it, Hashem our Elokim, to the nations of
Furthermore, the Brisker Rav's statement that the beginning
of the tefillah tells us that HaKodosh Boruch
Hu did not give the mitzvah of Shabbos to the non- Jews
is self- evident. None of the mitzvos were ever given to non-
Jews except for the seven mitzvos of bnei Noach. The
mitzvah of Shabbos is included among the other mitzvos.
If we carefully examine the Brisker Rav's explanation we will
find the answer to our problem. He does not merely write that
non-Jews do not have the mitzvah of Shabbos; he writes that
they are excluded from it. Non-Jews are not obligated
to perform any of the other mitzvos, but if they observe
those mitzvos anyway they are rewarded like someone who
voluntarily does the mitzvah although he was not obligated.
[Just as the Rambam (Peirush Hamishnayos--Terumos)
writes: that if a non-Jew separates terumah it is
considered halachically proper terumah since he is
rewarded for doing the mitzvah although he is not
Shabbos is different. Even if a non-Jew performs the mitzvos
of Shabbos he receives no reward at all. He has nothing to do
with Shabbos, since he is excluded from it, and has no reward
when he does it of his own volition. This is the
chidush of, "You did not give it, Hashem our Elokim,
to the nations of the lands"--the non-Jews are
excluded from the mitzvah of Shabbos.
This chidush is explicitly stated in the
Mechilta on the posuk, "Bnei Yisroel
shall keep the Shabbos . . . between Me and bnei
Yisroel it is a sign forever" (Shemos 31:16- 17).
The Mechilta (ibid.) writes that the words
"bnei Yisroel" come to rule out non-Jews from Shabbos
observance: "`Between Me and bnei Yisroel' and not
`between Me and the non- Jews.'"
Why do we need a special posuk to tell us that non-
Jews do not have the mitzvah of Shabbos? After the Brisker
Rav's chidush this point is understood: the
Mechilta is teaching us that the non-Jews are not only
not obligated in the mitzvah of Shabbos, they are barred from
it. Even more than this: not only they are not rewarded for
observing Shabbos, Chazal (Sanhedrin 58b) rule that if
a non-Jew rests on Shabbos he is punishable by death.
The Brisker Rav's explanation that non-Jews are excluded from
the mitzvah of Shabbos can be easily inferred from the
tefillah's wording. According to the Rav's statement
that, "You did not give it, Hashem our Elokim, to the nations
of the lands" refers to the non-Jews' exclusion from the
mitzvah of Shabbos, the text should read "You did not command
it. . ." Why does it instead read "You did not give it"?
If the tefillah had read "You did not command it," it
would have meant only that the non-Jews are not commanded to
obey the mitzvah of Shabbos. Since it reads "You did not give
it," the meaning is clear that they are altogether excluded
The reason for their exclusion is that the mitzvah of Shabbos
is directly dependent upon the matonoh of Shabbos.
Someone who has received the wonderful present of Shabbos now
has the mitzvah of Shabbos, including its dinim and
issurim. Since this matonoh tovah from Hashem's
treasure-house was granted exclusively to Yisroel, only they
are commanded about the mitzvah of Shabbos. Since Hashem did
not give it to the nations of the world, they do not possess
this matonoh and they lack the mitzvah altogether.
Both the din and its reason are included in the
tefillah's words "You did not give it." HaKodosh
Boruch Hu did not command non-Jews the mitzvah of Shabbos
because that matonoh was not given to them. They are
excluded from the mitzvah of Shabbos just as they are
excluded from the matonoh of Shabbos. They do not even
receive the reward for voluntarily doing the mitzvah (eino
metzuveh ve'oseh) since they are completely unrelated to
it: a non-Jew who observes the Shabbos is punishable by
The tefillah adds, "nor did You make it the
inheritance, our King, of the worshipers of graven idols," to
teach us yet another detail about the exclusion of non-Jews
from Shabbos. From "You did not give it" we learn that Hashem
did not directly give them Shabbos as a matonoh and
mitzvah, but we might have thought it could be considered as
an inheritance, something a person acquires without another
specifically giving it to him or commanding him to take it.
If so, the non-Jews would be able to be rewarded for
observing it as eino metzuveh ve'oseh. The
tefillah therefore underscores the point: "nor did You
make it the inheritance, O King, of the worshipers of graven
idols," to tell us that it is neither a matonoh nor a
mitzvah nor even an inheritance for them.
What is the reason for non-Jews being barred from Shabbos
observance, from its matonoh, from its mitzvah, from
its rest, and from its inheritance? In what way is Shabbos
different from all other mitzvos?
The following part of our tefillah reveals the answer
to this question too: "For to Yisroel, Your people, have You
given it in love." We are explicitly told that the Shabbos
was given to am Yisroel and not to the other nations
since it is a matonoh of love (matonoh and
giving are derived from the same root in loshon
kodesh). Such a present is given only to someone the
giver loves: "To the seed of Yaakov, whom You have chosen."
Hashem has chosen the seed of Yaakov because of His love for
them, and only to am Yisroel did He give this
matonoh of love.
Why does the tefillah refer to am Yisroel as
the seed of Yaakov? Why are our other Patriarchs Avrohom and
Yitzchok not mentioned?
"Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose his seed
after them" (Devorim 4:37). The Ibn Ezra asks, why
does the posuk start by mentioning "your fathers" in
the plural, but finishes with "his seed" in the singular? The
normal sequence would be to write "their seed."
"His seed after them," explains the Ibn Ezra, refers
only to Yaakov. If the posuk mentioned "their seed"
that would include eight other nations, since from Avrohom
Yishmoel and his seed emerged, and from Yitzchok Esav and his
seed emerged. It was only from Yaakov that only the twelve
holy shevotim, the heads of Yisroel, emerged who are
all beloved by Hashem. Only them, the seed of Yaakov, did
Hashem chose. The fact that we alone are beloved and chosen
by Hashem is also taught to us in the tefillah: "To
the seed of Yaakov, whom You have chosen." Only the seed of
Yaakov, and not that of Avrohom and Yitzchok, in which the
offspring of Esav and Yishmoel are included, were given
Shabbos, the matonoh of love.
The Midrash writes on the posuk, "For it is a
sign between Me and you throughout your generations"
(Shemos 31:13) that our nation's relationship with
Hashem can be compared to a king and a queen who are speaking
together. Someone who walks between them will surely be
punished with death.
Am Yisroel and HaKodosh Boruch Hu are compared
to a king and queen speaking together. When a non- Jew goes
in between them he is punished with death. Shabbos is the
realization of "between Me and you." On Shabbos we are on
that level of nearness to Hashem!
This is similar to the Mechilta's teaching excluding
non-Jews from Shabbos observance--"`between Me and bnei
Yisroel' and not `between Me and the non- Jews.'" This is
a special exclusion referring to Shabbos, a day given to the
Jewish Nation which Hashem loves. Non-Jews are not beloved in
this way by HaKodosh Boruch Hu.
The same is true about the inheritance of Shabbos: the reason
non-Jews are not zoche to have Shabbos as an
inheritance is explicit in our davening: "With love
and favor grant us Your holy Shabbos as a heritage." It is
not sufficient that Shabbos was given with love to us as a
matonoh; we want the inheritance to be with love and
favor too. This is the essence of Shabbos: an inheritance of
love and favor from HaKodosh Boruch Hu to those who
observe the Shabbos. Non-Jews are not included in these
levels of love and favor. They have neither a matonoh
nor an inheritance of Shabbos.
Why did HaKodosh Boruch Hu just give Shabbos rest to
Jews? Because "Those who sanctify Your name rest on it"
(Shemoneh Esrei of Shabbos). HaKodosh Boruch Hu
awarded this rest on the seventh day, which is a special
creation, only to those who sanctify His name. This Shabbos
rest is not an ordinary rest such as the nations have. It is
a special brocho, a rest steeped in kedusha, as
we mention in mincha: "a day of rest and
kedusha You have given to Your people." Through this
rest of kedusha one can gain the elevated qualities of
a pure neshomo--"With splendor He enwrapped the day of
rest. He called the Shabbos a delight" (Shacharis Shel
Shabbos). This rest Hashem gave only to His people.
"Elokim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because on
it He rested from all His work which Elokim had created and
performed" (Bereishis 2:3). The Ibn Ezra writes in the
name of one of the Geonim that the blessing of Shabbos and
its sanctity make its observers become blessed and
End of Part I
HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira is the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas
Beer Yaakov and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of
Degel HaTorah in Eretz Yisroel