Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shabbos: Ta'am HaChaim Lech Lecho 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Lech Lecho 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this weeks parashah the Torah records a dispute between Avraham and his nephew Lot. Avraham discovers that Lot is allowing his shepherds to graze the sheep in other people’s property. It is said (Breishis 13:8-9) vayomer Avram el Lot al na sehi mirivah baini uveinceho uvein roay uvein roecha ki anashim achim anachnu, halo chol haaretz lefeonecho hipared na maalay im hasemol vaiminah veim hayamin viasmeilah. So Avram said to Lot; “Please let there be no strife between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not all the land before you? Please separate from me; If you go left then I will go right, and if you go right then I will go left.” The commentators wonder what happened to Lot, who at the time that Avraham set out on his journey, was righteous. How could Lot have turned sour so suddenly? The standard answer to this puzzle is that Lot was blinded by the wealth that he gained in Egypt. Once a person becomes wealthy, his worldview changes, and Lot was no different. What is interesting is that Avraham chose to abandon Lot at this juncture. Although no one seeks strife, it is difficult to understand why Avraham did not attempt to reconcile his differences with Lot regarding the grazing of the sheep. The Torah merely states that immediately subsequent to the quarrel, Avraham requested from Lot that he depart from his midst. It would seem that Avraham felt that until now Lot was dependant on him, whereas now, with his newly acquired wealth, Lot would be able to fend for himself. This being the case, Avraham decided that he could no longer tolerate Lot’s presence. This idea is reflected in the words of the Ramban (Shemos 19:1), who writes that it is likely that HaShem only gave the Torah to the Jewish People and the Erev Rav (the rabble that left Egypt-see Rashi to Shemos 12:38) were separated from the Jewish People. This teaches us that when the righteous are on a mission, they must separate themselves from evil. Similarly, in the prayer of Kegavna that is recited Friday night by those who pray Nusach Sefard, it is said: when the Shabbos arrives, she unifies Herself in Oneness and divests herself of the Other Side (any trace of impurity); all harsh judgments are removed from her, and she remains alone with the Oneness of the holy lightAll wrathful dominions and bearers of grievance flee together-and there is no power but she in all the worlds. Despite the fact that during the week we may encounter people and ideologies that bespeak evil, on the Holy Shabbos there is no place for evil. Given the fact that we have just emerged refreshed and purified from the Yomim Noraim, the Days of Awe, and the great joy of Sukkos and Simchas Torah, it is worth taking stock of how we honor the Shabbos. I once heard a Rav say that we are prohibited from bringing into the Sukkah utensils that will violate the sanctity of the Sukkah. Yet, are we as particular as to what we allow into our homes?! The same principle should apply with regard to the Holy Shabbos. We welcome the Shabbos by declaring that HaShem is our King and that Shabbos is the source of all blessing. In order to be true recipients of that blessing, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we do not engage in mundane talk on Shabbos and that we are preoccupied with prayer, Torah study and offering songs and praises to HaShem. In this manner we will surely merit to honor and delight in the wonderful gift of Shabbos that HaShem bestowed only upon His Chosen People, and then we will merit the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, and a place in the World to Come, which will be a day that will be completely Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Melech malchei hamelachim, King Who reigns over kings. We describe HaShem as King Who reigns over kings. What does this mean? In the simple sense, we are stating that despite all the power that appears to be vested in kings of flesh and blood, HaShem’s power is even greater than that power. This explanation, however, poses a difficulty, as it implies that the kingship of HaShem is in the same realm as that of human kings, and this certainly cannot be true. The answer to this question can be found in the words of the Netziv, who writes (Shemos 11:4) that even the forces of evil draw their strength from HaShem, and when HaShem revealed Himself in His glory in Egypt, all the forces of evil were destroyed. HaShem’s revelation was able to subdue even the greatest amongst the forces of evil and impurity. Similarly, when we declare that HaShem is the King Who reigns over kings, we are stating that all kings draw their strength from HaShem, and HaShem has the power to subdue all kings.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Barchu es HaShem hamevorach, Bless HaShem, the Blessed one. This pronouncement is one of the most fascinating passages in Jewish liturgy. The Chazan calls out to the congregation to bless HaShem Who is blessed. We already know that the word baruch does not mean blessed. Rather, it means that we acknowledge HaShem as the Source of all blessings. Given this understanding, what is our intention when we ask the congregation to bless HaShem as the Source of all blessings? It would appear that we are exhorting the congregation to acknowledge HaShem as the Source of all blessings. Yet, the Arizal and other Kabbalists mention a fascinating idea regarding the recital of Barchu. The Kabbalists write that on Friday night when the Chazan calls upon the congregation to bless HaShem and the congregation responds with baruch HaShem hamevorach liolam vaed, Blessed is HaShem, the Blessed One, for all eternity, the congregation gains the neshamah yeseira, the extra soul that enters into a Jew on Shabbos. Furthermore, when the congregation responds with Barchu, a heavenly voice goes out and declares, “fortunate are you, Holy Nation, that you offer your blessings below, so that the ones above should be blessed. You are fortunate in this world and in the World to Come.” Thus, we see that the repetition of Barchu has profound significance in this world and in the world that is above us. Perhaps another dimension to this declaration is that the Medrash states that HaShem created the world with the letter bais because it reflects blessing, whereas the letter aleph reflects a curse, such as in the word arur. The Ibn Ezra in his commentary to Bereishis wonders about this Medrash, as there are many words that begin with the letter bais and denote evil concepts. The Maharal (Tiferes Yisroel 34) refutes the words of the Ibn Ezra, and the Maharal writes that the explanation of the Medrash is that the letter bais intrinsically reflects blessing, as two signifies the commencement of expansion and growth. Thus, the word baruch reflects expansion and continued blessing, so it follows that we commence our prayers with the Chazan exhorting the congregation to follow suit and acknowledge HaShem as the source of all blessings.

Shabbos Story

There was once a salesman from Deal, New Jersey, whose business required him to travel around the country for several weeks at a time. He was an observant Jew, and he always tried to schedule his trips around stops for the Sabbath in places where kosher food was more readily available. This way he could stock up for the coming week. One of his usual stops for Shabbos was in Memphis, Tennessee. On one of his trips to Birmingham, Alabama he contacted the president of a company which he was hoping to get an account with. His attempts in the previous years had been unsuccessful. However, this particular year he was pleasantly surprised. The president wanted to meet with him, and he made an appointment for that day. Unfortunately, the president was in a meeting which took longer than he had expected, and the salesman was told to return the next morning, which was Friday. The same scene repeated itself the next morning, and the salesman needed to get to Memphis, pick up his food, and check into his hotel before sundown. He burst into the president's office and told him it was now or never. He received a small order, and left. He made it to Memphis too late to get his food, but he decided to at least spend the Sabbath in the better hotel across the street. Embittered by the “mess” he had gotten himself into he took a room and began to unpack. To his utter disbelief, he found in the closet of room a certified kosher meal enough to serve ten people. He even found wine! He could not imagine where it came from, but it had obviously been abandoned. He thanked G-d for the wonderful gift and enjoyed the Sabbath. Some weeks later he was back home with some friends, and he overheard them speaking about their trip to Memphis, and how it had been cut short by a health problem. “What ever happened to all that food we brought in?” one of them said. The salesman interrupted. “I know what happened to it.” All eyes were now on him. “I ate it.” [The story is taken from the book Visions of Greatness, by Rabbi Yosef Weiss.]

Shabbos in Navi

Yehoshua Chapter 7

In this chapter it is said that Achan violated the cherem, the ban that Yehoshua had placed on anyone taking from the spoils of Yericho. The Navi interjects with the incident that occurred at the city of Ai, where the Jewish People lost thirty-six men in battle, and this distressed Yehoshua greatly. Hashem informed Yehoshua that the reason for this tragedy was because a Jew had sinned by taking from the spoils of Yericho. Through the Urim Vetumim, the letters that lit up on the breastplate of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, Yehoshua then identified Achan from the tribe of Yehudah as the culprit. Achan confessed his sin and he was the put to death by stoning. The Medrash (Yalkut Shimoni Yehoshua) states that Achan was punished with death by stoning because he stole on Shabbos, and the punishment for one who violates the Shabbos is death by stoning. We see from here the gravity of the sin when one violates the Shabbos. Hashem should allow us to study the laws of Shabbos and thus we will be able to observe the Shabbos properly.

Shabbos in Agadah

Shabbos and Milah, circumcision, are both referred to as an os, a sign. What is the association between Shabbos and milah? The Baal HaTurim in the beginning of Bereishis writes that the word Bereishis forms the words bris aish, a covenant of fire. Why is milah associated with fire? The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 48:8) states that Avraham Avinu stands by the gates of Gehinnom and does not allow anyone who has been circumcised to enter into Gehinnom. Similarly, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 65b and see Rashi Ibid) states that although all week the wicked are punished with the fires of Gehinnom, on Shabbos the fires of Gehinnom rest. Furthermore, the Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer (18) states that in the merit of Shabbos one is saved from the fires of Gehinnom. We can also suggest that the Gemara (Yoma 28b) states that Avraham Avinu fulfilled the entire Torah, even the mitzvah of eruvei tavshilin. The word eruv can also be interpreted to mean mixture (see Daas Zekanim MiBaalei HaTosafos Bereishis 18:8). Thus, the Gemara is stating that one who in this world observes Shabbos by cooking a mixture of hot food and eating it hot on Shabbos, will merit that he will be saved by Avraham from the fires of Gehinnom. (see Baal HaMaor to Rif Shabbos 16b and Rema Orach Chaim 257:8.)

Shabbos in Halacha

One can use pre-cooked seasoning, i.e. salt and sugar, on dry foods, even in a kli rishon. One should never use uncooked foods on solid foods in any vessel until they cool below yad soledes bo.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

When Yom Tov occurs immediately prior to Shabbos, one makes an eruvei tavshilin by taking a loaf of bread and a cooked item such as an egg, a piece of fish, or a piece of meat. He then recites a blessing and a declaration, allowing him to prepare food and light candles from Yom Tov to Shabbos. It is noteworthy that the word tavshilin forms the word Shabbos and the remaining letters equal in gematria 100. The Gemara (Yoma 28b) states that Avraham Avinu fulfilled the entire Torah before it was given, even the mitzvah of eruvei tavshilin. The Maharal explains that this demonstrates that Avraham was always prepared. We can suggest further that one prepares for Shabbos and on Shabbos one must also be meticulous to recite 100 blessings, as it is much more difficult to recite the 100 blessings on Shabbos than it is during the week. This is due to the fact that there are fewer blessings in the Shemone Esrei, so on Shabbos one should ensure that he recites blessings on foods and other items that require blessings.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Lech Lecho 5768

is sponsored by Yossi and Rivky Adler

in honor of the birth of their daughter Esther Miriam.
Mazel Tov to the grandparents Rabbi and Mrs. Shmuel Adler of Chicago

and to Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Abraham of Oak Park, Michigan.

May they all see much nachas from Esther Miriam

and be zoche to be megadel her to Torah Chupah Umaasim Tovim

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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