Thursday, August 2, 2007

Shabbos: Ta'am HaChaim Eikev 5767

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Eikev 5767

Shabbos in the Parashah

At the end of last week’s parashah it is said (Devarim 7:11) vishamarta es hamitzvah vies hachukim vies hamishpatim asher anochi mitzvavcha hayom laasosam, you shall observe the commandment, and the decrees and the ordinances that I command you today, to perform them. Rashi writes that that the inference of the words hayom laasosam, today to perform them, is that today, i.e. in this world, one is obligated to perform the mitzvos, whereas the reward is only in the World to Come. The Baal HaTurim in this week’s parashah, Eikev, notes the juxtaposition of the words hayom laasosam to the words vehayah eikev tishmiun, this shall be the reward when you hearken… This teaches us that the reward for the mitzvos that we perform is eikev, loosely translated as the end, i.e. in the World to Come. The Gemara (Brachos 57b) states that Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. One must wonder that if Shabbos is truly a semblance of the World to Come, then why is it that all of our actions on Shabbos revolve around the physical, such as eating and drinking, and according to some, sleeping? Is not the World to Come a place where there is no physical indulgence, as the Gemara (Ibid 17a) states: in the World to Come there is no eating and no drinking. Rather, the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and delight in the radiance of the Divine Presence. This being the case, it would seem that there is no need to indulge in physical pleasures on Shabbos, as one should seek to maximize this ether-worldly experience. Perhaps the resolution of this enigma can be found in the word eikev. Rashi quotes the Sifri that states that the word eikev means heel, and thus the verse can be interpreted as follows: vehayah eikev tishmiun, if you perform the mitzvos that are normally trampled on by ones eikev, heel, then you will receive all the blessings that I have promised to your forefathers. There are various opinions regarding the nature of these mitzvos that one tramples with his heel. Some opinions maintain that the mitzvos referred to here are the mitzvos that one literally performs with his feet, such as plowing and threshing and other mitzvos which relate to tilling the land. Other opinions maintain that Rashi is referring to mitzvos that people may consider routine, such as reciting blessings and donning tzitzis and Tefillin. I would like to suggest in the context of these verses that the Torah is alluding to Shabbos, as regarding Shabbos it is said (Yeshaya 58:13) im tashiv miShabbos raglecho, if you restrain your foot because it is the Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 113a) derives from this verse that one should not walk on Shabbos in the same manner as he walks during the week. Furthermore, the commentators write that the word regel, literally defined as leg, can also allude to hergel, that which one is accustomed to. On Shabbos one is supposed to indulge in physical actions, albeit in a different manner than during the week. This can be the explanation of the statement that Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. On Shabbos one may eat, drink and sleep, but by declaring that his actions are lekavod Shabbos Kodesh, for the sake of the Holy Shabbos, he has deviated from his normal routine, and thus he is akin to one who resides in the World to Come. The reason for this is because essentially, the World to Come is a reflection of how one elevated the physical in this world to a spiritual plane. When one acts in a different manner on Shabbos than during the week, he is elevating the physical to the realm of the spiritual, and this is akin to the World to Come. May we all merit the day that will be completely Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Melech baruch, King Who is blessed. The word baruch, frequently translated as blessed, is probably one of the most commonly used words by Jews all over the world. Yet, the true definition of baruch is not blessed. Rather, baruch means that HaShem is the source of all blessings. This definition, however, requires explanation, because then how can one ever say that someone is blessed if baruch means that HaShem is the Source of all blessings? The obvious answer to this question is that in truth, the Source of every blessing is HaShem. When one drinks water from the tap or from a pump, he may think that the tap or the pump is the source of the water, but the reality is that the source for all the water in the world is from the ocean. The reason that one can make such an error is because he only sees water flowing from the tap or the pump but he does not see water flowing from the ocean. Similarly, since one cannot see HaShem physically, one erroneously assumes that blessing emanates from other sources, when in truth, all “blessings” emanate from the One and Only Source, HaShem, may his Name be “Blessed.”

Shabbos in Tefillah

Kedusha umalchus, holiness and sovereignty. What is the connection between holiness and sovereignty? Similarly, in Bircas HaMazon, Grace after Meals, we recite the following words: ki im liyadcho hamileiah hapisucha hakedosha viharichovah, but only of Your Hand that is full, open, holy, and generous. The commentators (Reb Elya Lopian, Lev Eliyahu) wonder what the association is between holy and generous. Perhaps we can suggest that the Ibn Ezra (Bamidbar 6:7) writes that the true king that wears the wreath of kingship on his head is one who is devoid of desires. Thus, HaShem, Who is holier than all, is the true King and it is only the true King Who can bestow all His goodness on mankind. For this reason we declare that the hand of HaShem is holy and generous.

Shabbos Story

It was Sivan of 5567/1807, and thousands of joyous Chasidim were anticipating the wedding that would unite two illustrious dynasties. The chassan, Reb Yekusiel Zalman, was the son of Reb Yosef Bunim Wallis, who was the son-in-law of the great Jewish defender, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Reb Yekusiel was soon to be wed to Baila, who was the daughter of Reb Dov Ber, later known as the Mittler Rebbe, who was the son of the Baal HaTanya, Reb Schneur Zalman of Liadi. The town of Zhlobin was chosen as the setting for the wedding, as many of the Baal HaTanya’s Chasidim resided in Zhlobin, which was also equidistant from the towns of Berditchev and Liadi. The Chupah was going to take place on Friday afternoon, as was the custom in those times, and the festive meal would follow on Friday night. On the morning of the wedding day, the Rebbetzen of the Baal HaTanya had a complaint. While the Rebbetzen was willing to prepare the entire Friday night meal, as the custom was that the meal would be prepared by the kallah’s side, there was one slight problem. There was no fish available, and what would a Shabbos wedding meal be without fish? Furthermore, the Rebbetzen had heard that Reb Levi Yitzchak had a custom to always eat fish at a Seudas mitzvah, a festive meal, and if there was no fish, he would recite Kiddush and HaMotzi and not partake in the remainder of the meal. This would surely be unfitting for such a joyous occasion. When Reb Schneur Zalman heard of the dilemma, he declared that Reb Levi Yitzchak himself should be consulted. When Reb Levi Yitzchak heard about the problem, he asked in wonder, “Could it be that there will not be fish for Shabbos? Are there no rivers in this town?” The messenger of the Rebbetzen responded, “the Dnieper River flows nearby, but the river does not have fish.” The Heilegeh Berditchever summoned a horse and buggy and he then sent a message inviting his mechutan, The Baal HaTanya, to join him at the banks of the river. When they arrived at the river, Reb Levi Yitzchak removed a handkerchief and waved it over the river, all the while murmuring verses from the zemer Azamer b’Shvuchin, the famous zemer of the Arizal that is sung Friday night. Reb Levi Yitzchak then called out the words “vinunin urachashin,” which is Aramaic for fish and meat. Suddenly, schools of fish cane swimming towards them from all directions. People ran to get their nets, and soon their buckets were filled with fish, in honor of the Holy Shabbos.

Shabbos in History

Who could ever forget seeing the Bobover Rebbe zt”l, each Friday night at about 2:30 am, after the conclusion of his tish, dancing “Tini shevach” with his chassidim, sometimes continuing for half an hour or longer. The taam of that dancing was far more luscious to the Chasidim than the repast of even the most demanding connoisseur. The Rebbe gave the young men, who were already falling asleep at the tables, energy to continue on.

Shabbos in the Daf

Yevamos 93a-b

The Gemara states that Rabbi Yanai had a sharecropper who would always bring him produce. One Friday the sharecropper delayed, and Rabbi Yanai separated tithes from the produce that he had in his house, despite the fact that the sharecropper had not yet brought the produce. Rabbi Chiya informed Rabbi Yanai that he had acted correctly, as it is said regarding Maaser (Devarim 14:23) limaan tilmad liyirah es HaShem Elokecha kol hayamim, so that you will learn to fear HaShem, your G-d, all the days. The Torah is not coming to teach us that one can tithe on Shabbos and eat the produce, as the prohibition to separate tithes on Shabbos is only rabbinical in nature. Rather, the verse is teaching us that one can separate tithes from produce that has not yet arrived, for the sake of Oneg Shabbos, delighting in the Shabbos. This incident offers us a remarkable insight into the mitzvah of Oneg Shabbos. One can even violate a rabbinical prohibition for the sake of Oneg Shabbos. Certainly, then, when we are in an ordinary situation that does not entail any violation of halacha, we should do our utmost to prepare properly for the Holy Shabbos, and HaShem will surely reward our efforts and allow us to fear Him, all the days of our lives.

Shabbos in Halacha

Many halachic authorities rule that a hot solid food retains the status of a kli rishon even after having been transferred to another vessel. Their logic is that in contrast to liquids, solid foods do not lose much of their heat in the cool walls of the kli sheini. Given the fact that solid foods retain heat even in a kli sheini, the food retains the status of a kli rishon, irrespective of the amount of times the solid food was transferred, provided that the solid food remains at yad soledes bo. Other halachic authorities, however, rule that solid foods also have the rules of kli sheini and kli shelishi.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

It is said regarding Shabbos (Shemos 31:17) uvayom hashevii shavas vayenafash, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. A few months ago (Parashas Korach) I wrote that the first letters of the words shavas vayenafash in mispar katan, digit sum, equal nine, which is the same value as the word Shabbos in mispar katan. The last letters of the words shavas vayenafash in mispar katan equal seven, which alludes to Shabbos, the seventh day of the week. I would like to add that the first letters of the words uvayom hashevii shavas vayenafash in mispar katan equal 2. The Gemara (Beitzah 16a) derives from this verse that on Shabbos one merits to have a neshama yeseira, an extra soul. Thus, 2 symbolizes the 2 souls that one has on Shabbos. Additionally, the last letters of the words uvayom hashevii shavas vayenafash in mispar katan equal 12, which alludes to the instances that Shabbos is mentioned in the Torah.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Eikev 5767

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