Thursday, October 11, 2007

Shabbos: Ta'am HaChaim Noach 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Noach 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this weeks parashah the Torah records how HaShem nearly destroyed the world by bringing a flood. The only survivors of this devastation were Noach and his immediate family members. While we are accustomed to understanding the flood as a punishment for the corrupt actions of that generation, it would seem to be difficult to view the destruction as a reward. This would be similar to one contracting a life-threatening illness and his friend would attempt to comfort him by stating that he should view the illness as a reward. Let us examine the concepts of reward and punishment and we will see that the idea that destruction can be viewed as a reward is not as preposterous as it sounds. We must first ask ourselves why HaShem brings destruction to the world. The Ran in his Derashos (Derush 10 Version 2) poses the following question. If HaShem observes the laws that are written in His Torah, how can HaShem punish someone for violating His will? It would seem that if HaShem exacts retribution from someone for his actions, it is a form of revenge, and the Torah states explicitly that one is forbidden to take revenge. The Ran answers that when HaShem punishes a person, he is not taking revenge. Rather, HaShem is afflicting the person in this world or in the next world so that one will earn atonement and be cleansed from his sin. Thus, the term punishment regarding one who suffers because of his sins is not a correct term. Rather, one is being rewarded with afflictions that will ultimately bring him closer to HaShem. While it is true that the generation of the Flood forfeited their portion in this world and in the World to Come (Gemara Sanhedrin 107b ), Noach and his family were allowed to live and to rebuild the world. The Zohar states that Noach represented Shabbos. The real Shabbos will be in the World to Come, when those who have merited will be rewarded with an eternal rest. We must adopt an outlook that what may at times appear to be a punishment is in essence a reward. There are times when all those who appear to be punished are in essence being rewarded, and there are times when only some of those who are being punished are really being rewarded. Yet, the Meshech Chochmah (beginning of Parashas Vaera) writes that the whole liberation from the bondage of Egypt was justified so that Yehoshua and Calev were the only Jews over twenty years of age and under sixty years of age who entered Eretz Yisroel. Based on a Gemara in Sanhedrin (111a), the Meshech Chochmah posits that the Final Redemption could occur in the same manner, where HaShem will bring the redemption for only two individuals. The salvation of Noach was akin to redemption. The whole world was destroyed and only Noach and his family were allowed to live, and that life was granted to them so they could continue serving HaShem in this world. Every Shabbos we merit the neshama yeseira, an extras soul, and this allows us to be liberated form the shackles of the exile and the drudgery of the weekday. When Shabbos ends, however, the neshama yeseira leaves us, and we are once again cast into the bondage of the external world in which we are forced to toil. If all of world Jewry were to observe one Shabbos, we would be liberated from the exile. Scripture (Yeshaya 54:9) refers to the flood as mei Noach, the waters of Noach. We can interpret these words homiletically to mean that the waters of The Flood themselves were the reward that HaShem granted Noach and his family. Noach reflects Shabbos, as Shabbos is the greatest reward that HaShem proffers upon the Jewish People in this world. Noach was saved by building an ark for himself and his family. Shabbos is our spiritual “ark” where we can bask in HaShem’s Presence. The Torah states that Noach sent out a dove to see if it would find dry land to rest. The dove was unable to find a resting place, and it returned to Noach. Noach then waited and sent the dove out again. Pirchei Shoshanim quotes the Zohar that states that the dove finally found a place to rest on the day that was Shabbos. Thus, the true liberation from The Flood occurred on Shabbos. Hashem should grant us respite from the long and bitter exile, and we should merit the fulfillment of the verses that are said prior to the mentioning of mei Noach, (Ibid 7-8) birega katon azavtich uvirachamim gedolim akabtzeich, bishetzef ketzef histarti fanai rega mimeich uvichesed olam richamtich amar goaleich HaShem, for but a brief moment have I forsaken you, and with abundant mercy will I gather you in. With a slight wrath have I concealed My countenance from you for a moment, but with eternal kindness shall I show you mercy, said your Redeemer, HaShem.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Melech laveish rachamim, King Who dons mercy. What does it mean that HaShem dons mercy? This would imply that Hashem is normally not merciful. Rashi (Bereishis 1:1) writes that HaShem created the world with the Attribute of Justice, and when HaShem saw that the world could not exit with justice alone, He incorporated in the world the Attribute of Mercy. Thus, in essence HaShem rules with justice. Yet, for the sake of sustaining the world, HaShem dons His cloak of mercy. HaShem should allow us to merit His great mercy and we should witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Melech yachid kel chei HaOlamim, King, Unique One, G-d, Life-giver of the world. The culmination of the blessing Yishtabach is that HaShem is our king, the Unique One, G-d, and Life-giver of the world. We praise HaShem as our king, but the concept of king may at times be abstract for us. The idea that HaShem gives life to the entire world is somewhat easier to contemplate, as we are constantly breathing. It is noteworthy that the Zohar states that man dinafach midilei nafach, one who breathes is breathing from HaShem Himself. Perhaps this praise of HaShem as king and as life-giver go hand in hand, as once we acknowledge that HaShem gives us life, we can accept Him as King, because it is the king Himself Who is the Source of our every breath.

Shabbos Story

The Picciotto family of Aram Tzova in Syria functioned as consuls for various European countries. They were known for their integrity and for their wisdom and the rulers of the countries would often turn to the members of the Picciotto family for assistance in various matters. A king once sought to purchase fine horses in Syria and the king dispatched a trusted minister to travel to Aleppo to contact the consul, Señor, Moshe Picciotto. The king wished that Señor Moshe would use his keen eye and business acumen to locate for the king the swiftest and most beautiful horses available. The minister arrived in Aram Tzova with much pomp and ceremony on a Shabbos morning. The gentile authorities lavished the minister with great honor, precious gifts and long, flattering speeches. Everyone in a position of power in Aleppo was in attendance, except for the consul himself, Señor Moshe Picciotto. Although the visit of the minister warranted ones attendance, Señor Moshe served a greater King, and he would not even dare to contemplate desecrating the holy day of Shabbos for a visitor, no matter how distinguished that personage may be. The gentiles used Señor Moshe’s absence as an excuse to poison the minister’s mind against Señor Moshe. The minister was already upset that Señor Moshe had not been there to greet him, and by the end of the day the minister was prepared to believe the worst stories about Señor Moshe. When Señor Moshe arrived on Sunday morning, the minister only spent a few moments conversing with him, and then he dismissed him without even mentioning the purpose of his visit. The minister chose instead to solicit the services of the flattering non-Jewish officials, who sought out the most magnificent horses in Aleppo. Subsequent to procuring the horses, the minister visited the consul in Damascus and informed him how he had been treated by Señor Moshe. The minister then told the consul that he would avenge his honor and upon returning to the king, he would recommend that the king remove the Jew from his post. The consul, a friend of Señor Moshe, remained silent, and when the minister left, the consul immediately composed a letter to Señor Moshe, warning him of the danger. The consul hoped that Señor Moshe would find a way to protect himself from the minister’s schemes. The consul, however, left the letter on his desk, where it was buried beneath a pile of papers. The minister was en route to the palace of the king on one of the finest steeds that he had purchased, when suddenly, without warning, the horse reared up on its back legs, and its front legs hit a nearby wall. A stone dislodged from the wall and pierced the minister’s skull, killing him instantly. The king, who cared more about his beautiful horses than his dead minister, was excited about the new additions to his stables. “Señor Moshe has outdone himself,” he murmured, admiring the beautiful high bred beasts. The king then sent a letter to Señor Moshe, thanking him for his keen insight in choosing the fine horses. As an afterthought, the king mentioned the minister’s untimely death. The letter was sent to the consul in Damascus, who would ensure that the letter would reach Señor Moshe. When the secretary of the consul saw the letter from the king that was to be forwarded to Señor Moshe, he recalled that another letter had recently been written to this same consul in Aleppo. After rummaging around on the consul’s desk, the secretary found the first letter, and, afraid that the consul would be angered that the letter had not been sent, the secretary had both letters sent to Aleppo. Señor Moshe first opened the letter from the consul, and when he read its contents, he paled. This was bad news, as the minister had been offended and was planning revenge. Señor Moshe knew very well how damaging a few lies could be. His heart was racing as he cautiously opened the second letter. This letter contained the seal of the king himself. Could this be even worse news? Was it possible that the king believed the libels of the minister? Was Señor Moshe now to face the wrath of the monarch? Upon reading the letter, however, color returned to Señor Moshe’s face. He lifted his eyes to HaShem in gratitude and wonder, as the king had heaped praises upon him and had thanked Señor Moshe for his efforts. Upon reading of the minister’s strange death, Señor Moshe realized what had occurred. Señor Moshe immediately summoned the scholars of the city and informed them how he had been saved by a great miracle, and that there was a miracle within the miracle. Hashem caused that on that day he should receive the first letter so that he should not have to worry even for a moment, thus allowing him to spend all his time helping his Jewish brethren.

Shabbos in Navi

Yehoshua Chapter 6

In this chapter it is said that HaShem instructed Yehoshua that the Jewish People should encircle the city of Yericho one time, for a period of six days. The Kohanim would carry the ram-shofros before the Aron, and on the seventh day, they shall go around the city seven times, and the Kohanim should blow with the shofars. When there will be an extended blast with the ram’s horn and they hear the sound of the shofar, the people shall cry out with a great cry, and the wall of the city will fall in its place. The Jewish People cried out and the Kohanim blew with the shofros, and the people heard the sound of the shofar and they cried out with a great shout. The wall fell in its place and the people entered the city and conquered it. They destroyed everything in the city by the edge of the sword. It is noteworthy that Yehoshua had informed the people that upon capturing the city, the city and all that is in it shall be consecrated property for HaShem. The Medrash (Tanchumah Naso 28) states that Yehoshua decided this on his own, stating, “The Shabbos is completely holy, and so the spoils of Yericho should also be consecrated to HaShem.” This idea should serve as a powerful lesson for us, as given the holiness of Shabbos, all our actions on Shabbos should reflect the service of HaShem. Shabbos is HaShem’s day, and we are enjoined to delight in His day.

NEW Shabbos in Agadah

The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that if the Jewish People were to observe two Shabbosos, we would be redeemed from the exiles. In light of this profound statement, I would like to focus on various aspects of Shabbos, both in Halacha and in custom, which every Jew can aspire to, in enhancing the Holy Shabbos. One of the most important aspects of Shabbos does not even occur on Shabbos. The Gemara (Beitzah 16a) states that Shammai would find a sheep and designate it for Shabbos, and upon finding a choicer sheep, he would designate that sheep for Shabbos. Shammai would thus eat the entire week in honor of Shabbos. One must wonder why someone would honor the Shabbos during the week when the Torah commands us to honor the Shabbos on Shabbos. Perhaps we can suggest a novel approach to explain the philosophy of Shammai. The Sefarim write that the word Shabbos means to return, i.e. to repent. It is well-known that Rabbeinu Saadia Gaon would do Teshuvah for the inadequacy of his previously performed good deeds. In a similar vein, Shammai would eat in honor of Shabbos, i.e. he would do Teshuvah, but then he would find a better way to do Teshuvah, as ultimately, one can always become closer to HaShem. This thought should inspire us to use Shabbos as a means of coming closer to HaShem.

Shabbos in Halacha

One is prohibited from adding any seasoning, such as pepper or sugar, to hot soup while in a pot (kli rishon). Seasoning that was cooked during processing, like salt or sugar, can be added once the soup is transferred to a kli sheini. One cannot add uncooked seasoning to a kli sheini until the soup cools below yad soledes bo. One can, however, add uncooked seasoning to a kli shelishi.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

It is said in the Book of Yehoshua (6:19) that all the silver and gold and vessels of copper and iron are holy to HaShem; they shall go to the treasury of HaShem. The Medrash (Tanchumah Naso 28) derives from this verse that since the spoils of Yericho were taken on Shabbos, they were consecrated to HaShem. It is noteworthy that the word Bereishis, when one scrambles the letters, forms an acrostic for the words Reishis shelal Yericho beShabbos tavo Otzar, the first spoils of Yericho on Shabbos shall be brought to the treasury [of HaShem].

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Noach 5768

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363.

To subscribe weekly by email, please send email to

View Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim and other Divrei Torah on

No comments: