In our continuing series on Masechet Shabbat we began to bring together some of the bigger issues as it relates to Av / Tolda / Mishkan. Rav Gustman, in a brilliant essay on Bava Kama, summarizes beautifully the three approaches to Mishkan and Importance (chashivut). He then presents us with a classic distinction between siman (sign) and sibah (reason) as it relates to the Avot of Shabbat. What Rav Gustman offers us is the attractive idea that the Avot as a category are actually meant to be pointing us in the direction of what he calls, “ikar ha-melacha (the essence of labor).” The concept made a link for me back to the notion of malacha as it appears in the beginning of the second chapter of Bereishit. By describing the list of 39 in Shabbat 7:2 as simply a siman and not a sibah Rav Gustman forces us to think about what that list might be seeking to accomplish in the world.
Masechet Shabbat – Rav Gustman – Ikar hamelacha