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Mora Horim, Mora Mikdash and Mora Shabbat

  • Rav Binyamin Tabory
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

The Weekly Mitzva
Yeshivat Har Etzion



Mora Horim, Mora Mikdash and Mora Shabbat

(Awe of Parents, Awe of the Temple and Awe of Shabbat)


By Rav Binyamin Tabory


            The Ramban (Vayikra 19:30) explained that the Torah mentioned the obligation to observe Shabbat many times due to the fact that Shabbat is equal to all other mitzvot.  In Parashat Kedoshim, the phrase "et Shabbetotai tishmoru" ("You shall observe My Shabbatot) is mentioned twice, once in connection with "mora av va-eim" (Vayikra 19:3), and once in connection with "mora mikdash" (19:30).  Chazal derived from these juxtapositions that one must observe Shabbat even if his parents ask him to desecrate it, and that it is forbidden to build the Mikdash on Shabbat.


            There are thus two obligations of "mora" (displaying reverence) in this parasha: mora of parents, and mora of mikdash.  Mora of parents forbids standing or sitting in their designated place, contradicting them and taking any position when they have an argument with someone else (Kedushin 31b).  The laws of mora mikdash include the prohibitions against going to the Temple Mount carrying a cane or wearing shoes, taking a short cut through it, and other laws (Berakhot 54a).  In his discussion of mora mikdash, the Rambam, as usual, culled many halakhot found in various sources and codified them in a single chapter (Hilkhot Beit Ha-bechira, 7).  He includes a prohibition against sitting anywhere in the azara (halakha 6) and a prohibition against producing an exact replica of the heikhal or its appurtenances (halakha 10).  The Radvaz (ad loc.) pointed out that this final halakha likewise stems from the law of mora mikdash, as it is based on the fact that "we should not use the King's scepter."  This point appears to be obvious, given that the Rambam placed this halakha in the chapter devoted to mora mikdash.  The Sefer Ha-chinukh (mitzva 254) also cites these laws in his discussion of mora mikdash and explicitly writes, "and all this is due to the awe of the place."


            Besides these two mitzvot of mora, we find an astonishing mitzva enumerated in Sefer Ha-yereim: "mora Shabbat" (mitzva 410).  He explained that inasmuch as the Torah connected shemirat Shabbat to mora mikdash, these two laws are intertwined.  Just as there are two separate laws relating to mikdash - shemirat mikdash (Sefer Ha-mitzvot, mitzvat aseh 22; Chinukh, mitzva 388) and mora mikdash (ibid.) – so are there two laws relating to Shabbat: shemirat Shabbat and mora Shabbat.  The Yereim defines this mitzva to mean that "a person should reflect (on how) to honor and observe, and to be afraid of it."


            The Yereim, who generally follows the enumeration of mitzvot of the Bahag, appears to be the only Rishon who counted or even recognized a mitzva of mora Shabbat.  In fact, the gemara seems to explicitly negate such a notion.  The gemara (Yevamot 6a) points out that two different verbs are employed in connection with Shabbat and mikdash: "It says shemira regarding Shabbat and mora regarding mikdash.  [Rashi: It does not say mora in the context of Shabbat.]"  This remark appears to clearly deny any obligation of mora in connection with Shabbat.  Shabbat requires only shemira, which does not mean that one must be in awe of Shabbat.


            The commentary on the Sefer Yereim "To'afot Re'em" cites a variant text of this gemara which he found in the Sefer Mitzvot Katan.  (Our prevalent editions have the standard text as quoted above.)  That text reads, "It says shemira and mora regarding Shabbat and it says shemira and mora regarding mikdash."  Of course, if indeed this was the text of the gemara that the Yereim used, we readily understand why he counted mora Shabbat as a separate mitzva.


            If we do not accept the opinion of the Yereim, that this pasuk introduces the concept of mora Shabbat, why did the Torah indeed associate Shabbat with mikdash?  We have already noted that this juxtaposition teaches that building the mikdash does not override Shabbat.  In truth, however, this law had already been taught earlier in the Torah, when it prefaced the laws of building the mishkan with a discussion of Shabbat (Shemot 35:1-3).  Rashi (ad loc.) pointed out that through this preface, the Torah alludes to the prohibition against building the mishkan on Shabbat.  The Or Ha-chayim and others offer explanations for this seeming redundancy, but in any event the gemara deduces another halakha from this juxtaposition in Parashat Kedoshim.  The gemara (Yevamot 6b) comments that just as Shabbat is eternally binding, so does the obligation of mora mikdash apply for all time.  The Rambam quotes this gemara but adds one important point: "Even though the Temple is desolate today due to our sins, we are still obligated in its mora… Just as shemirat Shabbat is eternal, so is mora mikdash eternal, since its kedusha is still intact despite its desolation" (Hilkhot Beit Ha-bechira 7:7).  The Rambam clearly refers here to his own opinion (ibid. 6,15) that while the kedusha of the Land of Israel can dissipate, the kedusha of Yerushalayim and mikdash is everlasting.  One can only speculate what the Ra'avad, who disagrees with the Rambam's view of the eternal kedusha of the mikdash, would say about the law of mora mikdash today.  The Sefer Mafte'ach in the Frankel edition of the Rambam presents an impressive list of writers who debated this issue.


            Let us return to the opinion of the Yereim.  What exactly would be included in mora Shabbat?  Could the awe or fear of Shabbat warrant adopting very stringent standards of observance, beyond the regular, obligatory laws, attempting to avoid desecrating Shabbat in any case?  Many have noted in this context the Yerushalmi's comment (Demai, Chapter 4) that on Shabbat we assume everyone tells the truth, including those whom we generally would not trust, since they feel the awe of Shabbat.


            Rav Perla, in his commentary to the Sefer Ha-mitzvot of Rabbeinu Sa'adya Gaon (Volume 1, p. 234) suggested that we infer from various aspects of mora mikdash what may be included in mora Shabbat.  Just as mora mikdash forbids making an exact replica of the mikdash, perhaps there is a law (besides "bal tosif" – not adding to the Torah) forbidding one from observing Shabbat on a different day of the week.  He further speculated that this might be the reason for standing while we recite the kiddush.  The obligation of mora mikdash forbids sitting in the mikdash, and thus standing should, perhaps, be forbidden on Shabbat.  Obviously, Halakha could not possibly require us to stand throughout Shabbat, especially given the concept of oneg Shabbat.  On the other hand, there is a need to show that mora Shabbat should imply that we stand out of mora.  Quite possibly, therefore, we stand during kiddush to reflect the idea of mora.  Of course, there are various customs relating to kiddush, and some people sit for the entire kiddush.


            We have seen that there are two mitzvot involving mora, one relating to mikdash and another relating to parents.  There is one opinion that acknowledges a mitzva of mora shabbat, as well, and this view may yield several fascinating ramifications.