Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shabbos: Ta'am HaChaim Shoftim 5767

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shoftim 5767

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this week’s parashah the Torah discusses the appointment of a Jewish king. The Commentators elaborate on the need for the Torah to instruct the Jewish People to appoint a king when a king would not appear to be a desirable entity. In the book of Shmuel we find that the Jewish People requested from the prophet Shmuel that he appoint them a king. Upon hearing their request, Shmuel was disconcerted, and Hashem offered this profound response: (Shmuel I 8:7) shema bikol haam lechol asher yomru eliecho ki lo oscho maasu ki osi maasu mimloch aleihem kichol hamaasim asher asu miyom haalosi osam mimitzrayim viad hayom hazeh vayaazvuni vayaavdu elohim acheirim heimah osim gam lach, listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for it is not you whom they have rejected, but it is me whom they have rejected from reigning over them. Like all, their deeds that they have done from the day I brought them up from Egypt until this day-they forsook Me and worshipped the gods of others. HaShem is apparently telling Shmuel that by the Jewish People requesting that a human king rule over them, they are abandoning HaShem as their king. Furthermore, it appears as if appointing a human king is akin to idolatry. This response leads us to wonder how HaShem could instruct us to appoint a king, yet, when the Jewish People request a king, they are chastised. The simple answer offered by the commentators (Radak to Shmuel I 8:5) is that HaShem was displeased with the Jewish People for requesting a king that would allow them to be like all the other nations. Let us examine the function of a king and then we will gain a deeper understanding into why HaShem was displeased with their request. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 20b) states that the Jewish People were instructed regarding three commandments upon entering into Eretz Yisroel. The first commandment was to appoint a king, the second commandment was to obliterate the nation of Amalek, and the third commandment was that they build the Bais HaMikdash. Thus, the appointment of a king was to obliterate Amalek and build the Bais HaMikdash. The entire focus of a Jewish king is so that the Jewish People merit a repository of holiness. When the Jewish People requested from Shmuel that he appoint for them a king, there was essentially nothing wrong with their request. The issue that HaShem had with their request, however, was that their request for a king was limited to just that. They should have stated that they desired a king so that they would attain a high level of holiness. For this reason HaShem told Shmuel that it is not you who they have rejected, but it is Me whom they have rejected from reigning over them. The ultimate goal of holiness is that one recognizes that HaShem reigns over him and over the entire world. It is for this reason that in the Yomim Noraim prayers we recite the words uvichein tein pachdecho HaShem Elokeinu al kol maasechah viaimascho al kol mah shebarasa, and so, too, O HaShem, our G-d, instill Your awe upon all Your works, and Your dread upon all that You have created. The reason that we recite this declaration in the blessing of Kedushas HaShem, Holiness of G-d’s Name, is because the ultimate purpose of attaining holiness is to recognize that HaShem’s dominion is over the entire world. In a similar vein, at the onset of Shabbos we recite the words lechu neranenah laHashem nariah latzur yisheinu, Come! Let us sing to HaShem, let us call out to the Rock of our salvation. Shabbos is the holiest day of the week and the purpose of this holiness is so that we recognize that HaShem is our Creator. Similar to entering into Eretz Yisroel, when we enter the Shabbos, we accept HaShem as our king. Prior to praying Maariv Friday night, for those who pray Nusach Sefard, we recite Kegavna, where we declare that when the Shabbos arrives, she unified herself in Oneness and divests herself of the Other Side [any trace of evil], all harsh judgments are removed from her. Once we have accepted HaShem as our king and all evil has been removed, we merit dwelling in the Bais HaMikdash, as Shabbos is a day of sanctity. Now that the month of Elul is upon us, let us utilize every Shabbos to attain high levels of holiness, and then on Rosh HaShanah we will declare that HaShem Elokei Yisroel melech umalchuso bakol mashalah, HaShem, the G-d of Israel, is King, and His kingship rules over everything.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Melech doveir shalom, King Who bespeaks peace. Many of us wonder how peace can be achieved in the world. We are surrounded by personal strife, global war, and peace does not appear to be on the horizon. Yet, we declare that HaShem bespeaks peace. The Mishnah (Avos 1:12) teaches us that we must be lovers of peace and seekers of peace. We do not desire peace because it is comfortable for us. Rather, we seek peace because the Name of Hashem is shalom, peace, and this is the blessing that HaShem confers upon the Jewish People (Tehillim 29:11; Mishnah Uktzin 3:12). When we will recognize that HaShem constantly bespeaks peace, we will emulate His actions and then we will merit true peace, when the wolf lies down with the lamb, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Lishimcho haGadol veHaKadosh, to Your Great and Holy Name. We have already explained the association of holiness and kingship. Here we have an association between greatness and holiness. We mentioned earlier that the ultimate goal of holiness is that we recognize HaShem’s greatness. Similarly, we offer blessings and thanksgivings to HaShem’s Great and Holy Name, and this reflects our awareness that HaShem’s Holiness and Greatness are synonymous.

Shabbos Story

Reb Aryeh Levine took it upon himself to visit Jewish inmates, mostly members of the Irgun, held under British rule prior to Israel’s statehood. He became like a father to those prisoners, bringing them food, clothes and love. For years, despite sweltering heat and frigid rains, he never missed a Shabbos visit, save one. Once, in the midst of a Shabbos service, a very excited messenger called him out of the prison. Reb Aryeh’s daughter had become paralyzed and the doctors were helpless. He was needed for support at home, immediately. After the Shabbos, an Arab messenger was sent by the concerned inmates to inquire what tragedy interrupted the weekly visit. The next Shabbos, despite the enduring tragedy at home, the Rabbi went to the prison as usual. Normally during the Torah reading, prisoners would pledge a few coins to charity. This week the donations were far different. “I will give up a week of my life for the sake of Reb Aryeh’s daughter,” the first convict pledged. Another prisoner announced that he would give a month from his. Each one called to the Torah upped the previous pledge until the last prisoner cried out, “what is our life compared to Reb Aryeh’s anguish? I will give all my remaining days for the sake of the Rabbi’s daughter.” At this unbelievable display of love and affection, Reb Aryeh broke down and wept. Miraculous as it may sound, that Saturday night Reb Aryeh’s daughter began to move and within days was fully recovered.

Shabbos in History

Once on Erev Shabbos the Holy Rebbe Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov zt”l set out to immerse himself in the mikveh, as he always did, in honor of the Shabbos. This time, however, there were some problems, and the mikveh had been emptied prematurely. This week there would be no tevilah. Surprisingly, instead of becoming upset and dejected, he actually seemed happy and upbeat. Turning to his Shamash (beadle), he said, “Today my immersion was more complete than any other time in my life. You see, normally, when we do a mitzvah, we try our best to purify and sanctify our thoughts at the time, in order to do the mitzvah for one reason only: To give Hashem pleasure; not to satisfy some personal need or agenda. Still, who can say, ‘My heart is pure,’ and state that he has immersed himself with all the proper thoughts and intentions? But Chazal (our Sages) teach that when a person truly tries to perform a mitzvah, but is unable, then the Torah considers it as if he has performed the mitzvah. So today, since due to circumstances completely beyond my control I was unable to immerse, the Torah ‘steps in’ for me - and one can be sure that even if I cannot possibly keep in mind all the right thoughts and intentions, “the Torah” certainly can! That is why I say that today more than any other, my tevilah was a truly perfect immersion!”

Shabbos in the Daf

Yevamos 107a

The Gemara states that one does not trouble himself to prepare a meal and then ruin the meal. The Gemara elsewhere (Avodah Zara 3a) states that one who toils on Erev Shabbos will eat on Shabbos. Shabbos is a day of rest. Yet, for one to earn the reward of Shabbos, one has to prepare for it. The Sfas Emes (Vayechi 5634) writes that when one toils during the week, the blessing of Shabbos is increased on behalf of the week. This, the Sfas Emes writes, is the idea of lechem mishneh, the two loaves of bread that we eat on Shabbos. There is a blessing on Shabbos because of the essence of the Shabbos day, and there is also the aspect of the toil during the week, and these two ideas are reflected in the lechem mishneh.

Shabbos in Halacha

In summary, pre-cooked seasoning i.e. salt, can be added to dry foods, even in a kli rishon. Pre-cooked liquid condiments i.e. ketchup can be used only in a kli sheini. Uncooked spices should never be used on dry foods that are yad soledes bo, regardless of how many vessels the dry food has been transferred to.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

The Arizal writes (Shaar HaPesukim Ki Seitzei) that the first letters of the words (Devarim 24:15) biyomo sitein secharo, on that day shall you pay his hire, form the word Shabbos and the word boshes, shame. This teaches us that one should feel ashamed from the extra holiness that he attains on Shabbos. Additionally, these words allude to the idea that one should accept the Shabbos prior to the onset of Shabbos. The Arizal mentions other allusions that can be found in these words.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shoftim 5767

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos.

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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