• What is required to be a good caretaker?
  • What does it entail to sustain growth, versus create growth?
  • How should we balance between preserving what already exists and creating something new?


(טז) וְשָׁמְר֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֑ת לַעֲשׂ֧וֹת אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֛ת לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם בְּרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם׃

(16) The Israelite people shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout the ages as a covenant for all time:


  • What does it mean to “preserve” the Sabbath?
  • What other things/ideas might require this same type of Shemirah?
  • Can rest encourage growth? How so?


(טו) וַיִּקַּ֛ח ה' אֱלֹקִ֖ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵ֣הוּ בְגַן־עֵ֔דֶן לְעָבְדָ֖הּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ׃
(15) The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden, to till it and tend it.

Guide for the Perplexed, Part 3 39

As to the precepts enumerated in the laws concerning the year of release and the jubilee ... the land will also increase its produce and improve when it remains fallow for some time.

לְפִי שֶׁהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל יוֹצְאִין מִפַּרְנָס לְפַרְנָס — מִמֹּשֶׁה לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ — לְפִיכָךְ עָשָׂה אוֹתָם מַצֵּבָה כְּדֵי לְזָרְזָם

Because the Israelites were now passing from one leader to another, from Moses to Joshua, therefore he (Moses) made them a pillar that he might encourage [and strengthen] them.


  • What types of changes might have been felt among the Israelites during this change of leadership?
  • Why do you think Moses made a pillar for the nation? What might the pillar represent?
  • What ‘pillars’ do you have in your life? What keeps you anchored in times of change?
ת"ר מעשה ברבי יוחנן בן ברוקה ורבי אלעזר (בן) חסמא שהלכו להקביל פני ר' יהושע בפקיעין אמר להם מה חידוש היה בבית המדרש היום אמרו לו תלמידיך אנו ומימיך אנו שותין אמר להם אף על פי כן אי אפשר לבית המדרש בלא חידוש
§ The Sages taught: There was an incident involving Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Beroka and Rabbi Elazar ben Ḥisma, when they went to greet Rabbi Yehoshua in Peki’in. Rabbi Yehoshua said to them: What novel idea was taught today in the study hall? They said to him: We are your students and we drink from your water, i.e., all of our Torah knowledge comes from you, and therefore how can we tell you something you have not already learned? He said to them: Even so, there cannot be a study hall without a novelty.


  • Why was Rabbi Yehoshua displeased with the response from his students?
  • Do you agree with Rabbi Yehoshua? Must all learning necessarily lead to novelty?
  • Where does humility fit in to this scenario? Would it be hubris on the part of the students to teach something new to Rabbi Yehoshua?

(ג) לְמַטָּה בָרִצְפָה בְּאוֹתָהּ הַקֶּרֶן, מָקוֹם הָיָה שָׁם אַמָּה עַל אַמָּה, וְטַבְלָא שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ, וְטַבַּעַת הָיְתָה קְבוּעָה בָהּ, שֶׁבּוֹ יוֹרְדִין לַשִּׁית וּמְנַקִּין אוֹתוֹ. וְכֶבֶשׁ הָיָה לִדְרוֹמוֹ שֶׁל מִזְבֵּחַ, שְׁלֹשִׁים וּשְׁתַּיִם עַל רֹחַב שֵׁשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה, וּרְבוּבָה הָיְתָה לוֹ בְּמַעֲרָבוֹ, שֶׁשָּׁם הָיוּ נוֹתְנִים פְּסוּלֵי חַטַּאת הָעוֹף:

(3) On the floor beneath at that corner there was a place a cubit square on which was a marble slab with a ring fixed in it, and through this they used to go down to the pit to clean it out. There was an ascent on the south side of the altar, thirty-two cubits [long] by sixteen broad. It had a square window in its western side where disqualified sin-offerings of birds were placed.


  • When should we focus on growth and when should shmirah prevail?
  • Are there traditions or other things in your life that you value preserving?
  • How might the value of shmirah apply in your philanthropic situation?