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    Head in your shoes – Vayakhel

    There seem to be two Jewish doctrines of work, as we see from a d’rashah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Likkutei Sichot, vol. 1, pp. 187-8). The first is found in the Ten Commandments: “Six days shall you work, but the seventh day is Shabbat” (Ex. 20:9). The second is in Parashat Vayakhel, which says, “Six days shall work be done” (Ex. 35:2).

    One doctrine is active, the other is passive. The Lubavitcher Rebbe suggests that the second version qualifies the first. “Six days shall you work” tells us about the importance of work and the dignity of labour. “Six days shall work be done” is a proviso: get the work done but don’t let it be your master. Do what is necessary but don’t make it your only priority or preoccupation. Leave time to be yourself, time for your home and family, time for Torah, time for prayer, time for the community.

    The Rebbe illustrates his point by a story. A follower of Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch once became the manager of a factory that made overshoes. It was soon obvious that his mind was becoming totally obsessed with the business, and nothing else mattered. Rabbi Dov Ber said to him, “Feet in overshoes are commonplace – but how can you have a head sunk into overshoes?”

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