Thursday, October 25, 2007

Shabbos: Ta'am HaChaim Vayera 5767

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayera 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this weeks parashah it is said that subsequent to Avraham circumcising himself, HaShem appeared to Avraham. What was the reason for this unexpected visit from HaShem? Rashi, quoting the Gemara (Bava Metzia 86b) writes that it was the third day from when Avraham had been circumcised and HaShem was visiting Avraham to inquire of his welfare. Yet, we do not find that HaShem said anything to Avraham. The Ramban therefore posits that HaShem appeared to Avraham as a sign of endearment, which demonstrated that HaShem was pleased with Avraham for having circumcised himself. This, the Ramban writes, is what the Gemara means when it states that HaShem appeared to Avraham to visit the sick. HaShem did not see a need to converse with Avraham. Rather, HaShem visited Avraham as a sign of honor. Similarly, the Ramban writes that when Yaakov was returning from Lavan and was en route to Eretz Yisroel, he encountered angels, who were sent by HaShem as a sign that HaShem was pleased with Yaakov’s actions. It is noteworthy that the Gemara (Shabbos 119b) states that on Friday night when we leave shul and walk to our homes, we are escorted by two angels. What is the purpose of these angels escorting us? In a simple sense, the angels escort us home as a sign of protection and to bless our homes when they see that everything is prepared in honor of Shabbos. On a deeper level, however, HaShem sends us angels on Friday night as a sign that HaShem is pleased with the actions that we have performed during the week. Thus, the angels represent a sign that HaShem is rewarding us for our virtuous behavior. This idea sheds light on the debate whether one should recite Shalom Aleichem on Friday night or not. Some opinions maintain that one should not make requests on Shabbos, and there are also opinions that maintain that one should not request that angels bless him, as we must direct all our prayers and supplications directly to HaShem. In light of the above-mentioned explanation, however, we can suggest that since the angels are present as a sign of the honor that HaShem is bestowing upon us, there is no need to even make mention of them. They are HaShem’s emissaries but they do not arrive to perform any function. The accepted custom is that we recite Shalom Aleichem and most people request that the angels bless them, but we should still bear in mind that with the arrival of Shabbos, HaShem wishes to demonstrate His affection for His Chosen People, and He honors us by sending us His emissaries. HaShem should allow us to merit being worthy of His Presence in our midst on the Holy Shabbos.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Melech nisgav, King Who is exalted. What do we mean when we describe HaShem as nisgav? It is said (Tehillim 91:14) ki vi chashak vaafalteihu asagveihu ki yada shemi, for he has yearned for Me, and I will deliver Him; I will elevate Him because He knows My Name. The Shelah (Introduction) writes that this verse is said regarding those who are familiar with the secrets of the Torah. It would thus follow that when we refer to HaShem as nisgav, we are declaring that we cannot even begin to comprehend the greatness of HaShem.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Baruch HaShem hamevorach liolam vaed, blessed is HaShem, the blessed One, for all eternity. The word vaed, translated as eternity, can also be read as vaeid, which is a witness. When we acknowledge HaShem as the Source of all blessings, we are essentially witnesses to the fact that HaShem is eternal. This is similar to the statement in the Gemara (Shabbos 119b) that states that one who prays on Friday night and recites the passage of vayechulu is deemed to be a partner with HaShem in creation. When one declares that HaShem created the world, he is deemed to be a witness to creation.

Shabbos Story

This story was written by Reb Yom Tov Ehrlich, based on the writings of Rav Chaim Vital, the primary student of the great Kabbalist, the Arizal. Yosef, who had recently married, walked back from shul with his youngest brother, Dovid, to wish their mother a good Shabbos. In the house all was ready for Shabbos-the table was set and the candles glowed brightly. However, the empty seat at the head of the table upset the tranquility. Their father had died two years earlier and their mother had not found peace since then. The smile she tried to force as she wished her sons a Good Shabbos could not hide her tears. “Mommy, it is Shabbos, we are not supposed to be sad,” Yosef said gently. “But it was exactly two years ago today that your father died, how can I not cry?” she replied. “That explains this Shabbos but not last week and two weeks ago. Father is now in Gan Eden and your tears must be upsetting him. Your tears also show HaShem that you are not willing to accept His judgment. Mommy, please forgive me for speaking this way,” Yosef apologized. “You are right, I know that everyone wants me to be happy again-I will try my best,” she promised. Yosef left to go to his house and Dovid made the Kiddush on the wine. A calm serenity seemed to envelope the seudah and the entire house. As she went to sleep, the mother felt an internal peacefulness that she had not felt since her husband’s death. She began to think that she was not alone. Others have gone through it and made it and so could she. As she drifted off to sleep she dreamt that people were running and she began to run with them. They ran through a dark forest until, with a burst of light, the forest ended. The bright sun glimmered off a sparkling blue stream, running through a garden filled with beautiful flowers. Suddenly, a white-bearded Jew wearing a long white garment appeared and gently asked her if she would like to see her husband. With her heart pounding she followed him to a tree full of beautiful ripe fruit, overlooking a spacious clearing surrounded by a golden fence. There were colorfully dressed Jews sitting in rows learning Torah from a young man. The class finished and she saw the teacher approaching them. When she saw that it was her husband, she nearly fainted and leaned against the tree. When she regained her composure she cried out, “Why did you leave me at such a young age?” “Please understand that the world in which you live is a world of exile,” he explained serenely. “People are sent there to complete specific tasks or to rectify earlier transgressions. This is the true world. Before you ever knew me I was a Torah scholar and perfectly righteous. My only fault was I was unwilling to marry and bring children to the world because it would have disturbed my studies. When I left the world I began to ascend to ever higher levels but at a certain point I could not ascend any higher because I had never married and had never had children. I was sent back to the lower world to marry and have children. I married you and when our seventh child was born, I was called to return to Gan Eden. Great is your merit that I was your husband. When the right time will come, we will again live together in this world in delight.” “Why does our Yosef not prosper in his business affairs?” she continued to question. “I am sure you remember the litigation that Yosef had with another Jew,” her husband responded. “He was legally correct but was guilty of causing the other person great pain. He faced a harsh sentence but I prayed on his behalf that he be given only four hard years. In just one more year, that period will end and he will prosper.” “And what about our Dovid? Not a single shidduch has been offered and I have no money to make a wedding.” He smiled and explained: “Dovid’s wife was late in coming-she is now only thirteen years old. In five years they will move to your city, she will get engaged to Dovid and they will finance the entire wedding.” In a pained voice she asked, “And why was our three year old son killed by a drunk?” “Follow me,” her husband answered with a smile. They began to walk to a light-filled garden. Brilliant beams of multi-colored light shone from above while beautiful songbirds flew from tree to tree singing the praises of HaShem. Suddenly she saw leaping circles of fire positioning themselves near her in column-like formation followed by small angels who also settled near her. She felt her soul slipping away and her husband quickly placed a flower near her nose to revive her. A canopy made of sparkling stones appeared before her and under the canopy stood a small angelic form that she recognized as her son. “Why did you leave me when you were so young?” she asked. “Everything is done according to HaShem’s plan,” he answered. “I had been in the world once before and during one of the wild attacks against my town, gentiles had murdered my entire family. I, at the age of six months was the only survivor. A kindly gentile woman took me into her home and raised me until I was redeemed by Jews. They taught me Torah until I became a great scholar. When I left that world I was received here with great joy. I reached a point where I could not rise higher because I was nursed by a non-Jewish woman. It was decreed that I be born again to a Jewish mother and live those early years in purity. After three years there was no reason for me to remain in that lowly world so I was returned to here. You have a great merit that you helped me to reach this next level.” The child laughed softly and disappeared from view. Her husband continued: “You now see that there is an answer to all of your questions. HaShem does no evil.” He escorted her back to the tree where he had met her. “It is very good here but I cannot bear to see your suffering. You will do me a great favor by living happily. A shidduch has been proposed for you. Please accept it.” With that he vanished and the old man led her back through the forest. She awoke a different person, soon remarried and lived a life of contentment.

Shabbos in Navi

Yehoshua Chapter 8

In this chapter the Navi records how Yehoshua and the Jewish People captured the city of Ai, burned it to the ground and hung the king of Ai on a tree until nightfall. The capture of the city was accomplished through a clever ambush regarding which HaShem instructed Yehoshua. One must read the Navi inside to gain a complete understanding of what transpired but what is noteworthy is that after apparently having been defeated by the people of Ai, HaShem assured Yehoshua that now that they had meted out justice to Achan for taking from the spoils of Yericho, the Jewish People would be victorious. This idea finds its parallel in our lives as well. Throughout the week we may encounter challenges and obstacles that impede our service of HaShem. Yet, when Shabbos arrives, all harsh judgments are removed and we are granted entrance into HaShem’s palace. Let us capitalize on this opportunity to dine at the King’s table and then we will merit the day that will be completely Shabbos and a rest day for eternal life.

Shabbos in Agadah

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 58b) states that a gentile who observes Shabbos is liable the death penalty and similarly, a gentile who studies Torah is liable the death penalty (Ibid 59a). What is the association between these two rulings? Perhaps one idea is that the Gemara (Shabbos 86b) states that all opinions concur that HaShem gave the Torah to the Jewish People on Shabbos, and the Gemara (Avodah Zara 2b) also states that HaShem offered the gentiles the Torah and they refused to accept it. Given these two facts, it follows that a gentile cannot study Torah, as the gentiles rejected the Torah, and the gentiles cannot observe Shabbos, as the very Torah that they rejected was given to the Jewish People on Shabbos.

Shabbos in Halacha

One cannot add to a kli rishon liquid condiments that were cooked during processing, such as ketchup and mustard. One can use these liquid condiments, however, when the food is transferred to a kli sheini.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

In the Shabbos prayers we often use the word ritzei, be favorable, to entreat HaShem. The word ritzei in mispar katan, digit sum, equals 16, and 1+6=7, which alludes to Shabbos, the seventh day of the week.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayera 5768

is sponsored by the Godfrey family in memory of their mother,

grandmother and great-grandmother Raitzel bas Yitzchak, Mrs. Regina Schey

niftarah 6 MarCheshvan 5738, October 18, 1977.

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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