Thursday, July 12, 2007

Shabbos: Ta'am HaChaim Matos-Masei 5767

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Matos-Masei 5767

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this week’s parashah, Masei, we learn about the journey of the Jewish People’s journey in the Wilderness. Let us draw a parallel between the journey in the Wilderness to the journey of the Jewish People throughout our current exile. We were exiled from Eretz Yisroel because of our sins, and we still have not merited the final redemption when the entire Jewish People will reside in Eretz Yisroel, with Moshiach as our king and when the Third Bais HaMikdash will be built. What is the goal of our journey in exile? According to kabalistic teachings, our mission is to draw out the Holy Sparks in every land where we sojourn. In this sense, one would think that we have fulfilled our mission successfully, as the Jewish People have settled and subsequently been exiled from so many lands. Yet, we constantly hear about the sins that we must still rectify, such as sinas chinam, baseless hatred, Lashon hara, slander, and numerous other sins. One area which does not seem to earn the spotlight is Shabbos observance. The Gemara (Shabbos 119b) states that Jerusalem was destroyed because they desecrated the Shabbos. The Medrash (Esther Rabbah 1:9) states that when Achashveirosh made his grand party, the angels upon high protested before HaShem, claiming, “The Bais HaMikdash is destroyed and this wicked man sits and conducts parties!” HaShem responded, “place ‘days’ corresponding to ‘days,’ as here [in Esther] it is said, bayamim haheim, in those days, and regarding the Jews who ascended to Jerusalem subsequent to the Babylonian exile, it is said, (Nechemiah 13:15) bayamim haheimah raisi viYehudah dorchim gitos baShabbos, in those days I observed in Judah people treading on winepresses on the Shabbos…. Thus, we see that one of the essential reasons for the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash and Jerusalem and for our current exile is because of the desecration of Shabbos. What is it, then, that makes Shabbos so unique that our redemption from this bitter exile is predicted on its observance? The Shem MiShmuel writes that one can reside in the Diaspora in a Torah environment and be insulated from all foreign influences, yet, if the atmosphere in ones proximity is polluted, then one cannot spiritually survive. Shabbos, however, is the atonement for the spiritual deficit that one may experience during the week. Thus, Shabbos is the equivalent of Eretz Yisroel while we are in exile. The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states in stark terms that were the Jewish People to observe the Shabbos, the Jewish People would be redeemed. True, it is hard for the individual to expect the entire Jewish People to fully observe Shabbos. Yet, it is incumbent upon every individual to observe the Shabbos to the best of his or her ability, and then we will all merit observing the Shabbos collectively. When the entire Jewish People will observe the Shabbos, HaShem will have compassion upon His Chosen Nation and redeem us with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Ribbon kol HaOlamim, Master of all worlds. The first statement that we make when reciting this poignant supplication is that HaShem is the Master of all worlds. Why is this particular statement necessary? It is all too often that we get absorbed in our work during the week and it is unfortunately too easy to forget who is really running the world. One may begin to believe that it his efforts that allow him to be successful, when in reality, it is HaShem who controls every aspect of our lives. For this reason we begin this supplication at the onset of Shabbos by declaring that HaShem is Master of all worlds. The word olam, world is also defined as helam, hidden. In this context we can suggest that HaShem is Master of all worlds, i.e. even the worlds that to us may appear hidden from HaShem’s jurisdiction. The world of financial gain may appear to a person as hidden from HaShem’s oversight, when in reality it is HaShem who is “behind the scenes” allowing one to become financially successful.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Oz umemshalah, power and dominion. It is noteworthy that it is said (Tehillim 29:11) HaShem oz leamo yitein, HaShem will give might to His nation. Here we declare that for HaShem it is fitting to have oz, strength, yet the verse states that HaShem gives from that strength to the Jewish People. How can we understand this? In truth, all of the character traits and virtues that we have are gifts from HaShem. We are compassionate because HaShem is compassionate. We are generous because HaShem is generous. Thus, it is the humility of HaShem, so to speak, that allows Him to bestow from His virtues to us, His Chosen People.

Shabbos Story

The son of the Rizhiner Rebbe, Reb Avraham Yaakov of Sadigora, once told this story. One Erev Shabbos the Baal Shem Tov appeared in a town unexpectedly. Declining invitations from all the locals, he elected to remain alone in the Shul after Shabbos evening davening. The wonder of the residents turned to alarm when they saw his fervent Tefilla and Tehillim continue the whole night long. Something was surely the matter. In the morning, however, the Baal Shem Tov was relaxed and joyful, and he accepted the invitation of one of the locals for the morning Shabbos meal. Naturally, all of the townspeople crowded into the house of the host to see the Holy Baal Shem Tov. As they were sitting at the table, a local peasant came around looking for a drink of vodka. They were about to drive him away when the Baal Shem Tov called out that he should be brought in, and provided with a generous glass of vodka. He asked him to tell what he had seen in the mansion of the Poritz (wealthy Polish estate owner) the previous night. The peasant’s tongue, loosened by the vodka, related that the Poritz, believing that he had been cheated in a business deal by a Jewish merchant, assembled his peasants and armed them with knives and hatchets telling them to be on the ready to avenge themselves on the Jews at his command. They would then all be able to liberate their stolen riches from the Jews. “The whole night we waited for the command,” he continued, “but the Poritz had closeted himself in his office with an unexpected visitor, an old friend that he had not seen for forty years! Finally, he emerged and told us all to go home, that the Jews were upright and honest people and nobody should dare lay a hand on them. We all went home and that is the whole story!” “This old friend,” explained the Sadigerer Rebbe, “had been dead for decades. The Baal Shem Tov had dragged him from the grave to influence his friend the Poritz.” “I always wondered, though,” queried the Rebbe, “why did the Baal Shem Tov have to travel all the way to that town for Shabbos to avert the decree? Could he not just as well have remained in his hometown of Mezdibuz?” “Now, however, I understand. The Baal Shem Tov said to himself, “if I can succeed in saving the town, fine...but if not, then I will perish together with them!”

Shabbos in History

The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 60:16) states that there was blessing in Sarah’s dough. Rabbi Pinchas of Koritz comments that this does not mean that Sarah’s meager dough grew to massive proportions. Avraham was a wealthy man who had enough flour to fashion sufficient dough. Rather, the blessing was that when Sarah made the dough, it rose evenly and baked into a delightful, sweet-smelling, gleaming loaf. The same is true nowadays for women who bake challah. When the woman is happy and cheerful while baking, her challos will come out of the oven well formed and appetizing. If, however, the woman is angry and resentful, her challos will come out misshapen and burnt.

Shabbos in the Daf

Yevamos 72a

The Gemara states that one of the reasons that the Jewish People did not circumcise themselves in the Wilderness was because the Northern Wind did not blow for all forty years in the Wilderness. One reason the wind did not blow is because the Jewish People were excommunicated by HaShem because of the sin with the Golden Calf and they were not deserving of HaShem’s light. Alternatively, the wind did not blow so that the Clouds of Glory that surrounded the Jewish People would not disperse. It is noteworthy that the Clouds of Glory protected the Jewish People while they sojourned in the Wilderness, despite the fact that they were excommunicated by HaShem. In a similar vein, this teaches us that no matter what trials and tribulations we may undergo during the week, on Shabbos HaShem invites us into His Holy Abode and protects us. This thought should inspire us to prepare more for Shabbos, study its laws, and delight in this wonderful gift that HaShem bestows upon us every week.

Shabbos in Halacha

In summation, all foods, whether raw or cooked, can be heated in a kli shelishi, or by liquids poured upon them from a kli sheini, except eggs, tea leaves and salted fish, which can never be heated with a liquid that is yad soledes bo.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

Shabbos is deemed to be a semblance of Olam Haba, the world to Come. Although not necessarily synonymous, the World to Come and Gan Eden, Paradise, are both regarded as the reward in the afterlife. It is noteworthy that the Sefarim state that the word oneg, pleasure, is an acrostic for the words eden, nahar, and gan, Paradise, river and garden. The word eden in mispar katan, digit sum is 7+4+5, which equals 16, and 1+6=7. The number 7 alludes to Shabbos, the seventh day of the week. The word oneg in mispar katan, digit sum is 7+5+3, which equals 15, and 1+5=6, which teaches us that one should prepare during the six days of the week so that on Shabbos he can delight in gan, which equals 8. The number 8 reflects what is beyond this temporal world, and he delights in eden, which is the world in the afterlife.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Matos-Masei 5767

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos.

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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