To Drink or Not To DrinkPosted by Rabbi
And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made. (Gen. 2: 1-3)
Shabbos, the holy Sabbath Day, is a time of rest. A time to refrain from all types of work. It has been celebrated by the Jewish people for thousands of years as a day to enrich the spirit and to strengthen faith.
Once there was a man who was so thirsty that he thought he would die, but he did not wish to ask anyone to bring him water on the holy Sabbath Day since all forms of work are prohibited. When others saw him suffering they brought him water. He did not wish to drink or benefit from their forbidden labors, and he asked: “Who asks you to profane the holy Sabbath Day on my behalf?”
A wise man responded to him: “Remember the teaching, ‘For the blood of your lives I will require. (Genesis 9:5)’ Don’t ever forget that one should “choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deut 30:19)
The man countered, “We are taught that ‘the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath’ (Exod. 31:16). All forms of work are forbidden on the holy Sabbath Day is learned from ‘while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks of wood upon the Sabbath day . . . and they stoned him with stones, and he died.’ ” (Num. 15:32 and 15:36).
The wise man thought for a moment or two and responded, “Great is the holy Sabbath Day for it is never put off unless there is a danger to human life. (Beitzah 22a) Read and learn the holy words ‘He shall live by them’ (Lev. 18:5)–he shall not die because of them. (B. Yoma 85a) To save a life, disregard a Shabbos, that the endangered may observe many Shabboses. (Mekilta, Shemos 31:1).’ “ The wise man turned to the others and said, “to him that is thirsty, bring water.” (Isa. 21:14)
The man began to protest when the wise man continued, “Furthermore, if you do not drink, it means that they have profaned the Sabbath unnecessarily.”