Monday, December 3, 2007

Shabbos: Ta'am HaChaim Mikeitz-Chanukah 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Mikeitz-Chanukah 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

This week is Chanukah, the festival when we commemorate the Jewish People’s victory over the Syrian-Greek army and subsequently, the miracle of the oil in the Menorah burning for eight days. Regarding Chanukah, the Arizal (Shaar HaKavanos Derushei Chag Chanukah Derush 1) mentions that the blessing that we recite over the Chanukah lights ends with the words lihadlik ner Chanukah, to kindle the candle of Chanukah. The Arizal notes that the first letters of these three words spell the word nachal, which means a stream. It is noteworthy that the word nachal is equal in numerical value to the word Chanukah (88-89) and furthermore, in the form of at bash, the word nachal equals the word Chanukah. The Arizal explains on a kabbalist level the association of Chanukah to nachal, but perhaps there is also an explanation on basic level. The word nachal means stream, and amongst bodies of water, a stream is unique that it is constantly flowing. In Parashas Toldos we learn about the wells that Yitzchak dug. It is said (Bereishis 26:15) vechol habieiros asher chafru avdei aviv bimei Avraham aviv sitmum Pelishtim vayemalum afar, all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Avraham his father, the Philistines stopped up, and filled them with earth. One must wonder why the Torah states that the Philistines stopped up the wells and filled them with dirt. It is not sufficient to state that they filled the wells up with dirt? It is interesting to note that later on in history, the Philistines are once again stopping up, as we read regarding Shimshon (Shoftim 16:21) vayochazuhu Pelishtim vayinakru es einav, the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. Why are the Philistines constantly stopping up and gouging out eyes? When one scrambles the letters of the word Pelishtim, we find the words Yefes Mosheil, Yefes (Greece) rules. Although the Pelishtim are descendants of Cham and Greece is a descendant of Yefes, the Torah chose to allude to the Chanukah miracle in the passage that discusses the struggle that occurred between Yitzchak and the Pelishtim. The Baal HaTurim writes regarding the wells that Yitzchak dug: “The first well was referred to as Eishek, which corresponds to Babylonia, who oppressed the house of Yehudah, umiyad oshkeiehm koach, and their oppressors have the power (Koheles 4:1). The second well was referred to as Sitnah, and this corresponds to the decree of Haman, and it is said (Ezra 4:6) uvimlachus Achashveirosh bitchilas malchuso kasvu sitnah al yoshvei Yehudah ViYerushalayim, during the reign of Achashveirosh, at the beginning of his reign, they wrote a calumny against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. The third well corresponds to Yavan, Greece, as the Greeks decreed that the Jewish People could not use the mikveh, and a miracle occurred and a mikveh appeared in every Jew’s house. This is the meaning of the verse that states (Bereishis 26:22) vayateik misham vayachpor beer acheres vilo ravu aleha vayikra shamah rechovos vayomer ki atah hirchiv HaShem lanu ufarinu baaretz, he relocated from there and dug another well; they did not quarrel over it, so he called its name Rechovos, and said, “for now HaShem has granted us ample space, and we can be fruitful in the land.” The miracle of the Mikvaaos allowed the Jewish People to continue procreating. It is evident from the words of the Baal HaTurim that although the Greeks attempted to “darken the eyes” of the Jewish People, they were ultimately unsuccessful, as HaShem allowed the “stream” of Jewish life to continue. Thus, Chanukah is not merely about victorious battles in the physical realm. Rather, the festival of Chanukah is about the flow of Jewish continuity, and this flow is precipitated by our engagement in HaShem’s mitzvos. Although Yefes (Greece) attempts to be Mosheil (rule) over the Jewish People in spirit, we are governed by a higher Source, Who protects us and allows us to continue in His service. Throughout the week we are confronted by challenges that threaten our spiritual citadel. Upon the arrival of Shabbos, however, no force in the world can dominate the Jewish spirit, as all harsh judgments are removed with the onset of Shabbos. It is noteworthy that the law is (Shulchan Aruch O. C. 678:1) that if one only has sufficient money to purchase provisions for Chanukah lights or for Shabbos lights, one is required to purchase provisions for the Shabbos lights, as the precept of domestic harmony supersedes the requirement of Chanukah lights. Similarly, the Greeks sought to extinguish the light of the Jewish People by inhibiting the Jewish People’s efforts towards perpetuating Jewish life. HaShem saw to it that the light of the Jewish People would continue to be illuminated, as the restoration of sanctity in their midst warranted that the Jewish People should be blessed with even greater light. Thus, the light of Chanukah continues to flow like a stream in our lives, illuminating every area of darkness in the world. In the same vein the light of Shabbos illuminates our lives and transforms us into completely different beings. HaShem should grant us this Chanukah the fulfillment of the first words of the Chanukah hymn, maoz tzur yeshuasi lechah naeh lishabeiach tikon beis tefilosi visham todah nizabeiach, O Mighty Rock of salvation, to praise You is a delight. Restore my House of Prayer and there we will bring a thanksgiving offering.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Melech ram vinisa, King Who is sublime and upraised. The Gemara (Megillah 31a) states that wherever you find HaShem’s greatness, there you find His humility. One proof that is offered is because it is said (Yeshaya 57:15) ki choh amar ram vinisa shochein ad vekadosh shemo marom vekadosh eshkon vies dakah ushefal ruach lihachyos ruach shefalim ulihachayos leiv nidkaim, for thus said the exalted and uplifted One, Who abides forever and Whose Name is holy: I abide in exaltedness and holiness, but I am with the despondent and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the despondent. Hashem is simultaneously exalted and humble. A human being certainly cannot exist in such a state of mind. We can either be arrogant or humble. It behooves us to choose humility, as HaShem, with all His greatness, still prefers humility.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Umeiir liolam kulo uliyoshvav bimidas harachamim, Who illuminates the entire world and its inhabitants, which He created with the attribute of mercy. Rashi in the beginning of Bereishis quotes the Medrash that states that initially HaShem sought to cerate the world with the Attribute of Justice, and when He saw that the world could not exist on justice alone, HaShem added the Attribute of Mercy so that the world could exist. Yet, here we declare that HaShem created the world with mercy. In Sifsei Tzaddikim (Rimanov, Apt, and other great Chasidic masters) to Parashas Vayishlach, there is a revolutionary explanation towards understanding the words of Rashi. It is written there that Rashi is not referring to justice in the sense of punishment. Rather, the word Elokim denotes manhig and dayan, i.e. HaShem acts as the conductor of the world. HaShem initially sought to conduct the world with the Attribute of Mercy and with the Name of Elokim in order to benefit His creations. Hashem foresaw, however, that man could not exist if he was constantly cleaving to the Living G-d, because man is prone to sin. For this reason HaShem adjoined the Attribute of Mercy to the Attribute of Justice, so that the mercy could precede the justice. Thus, the world was initially supposed to function with the Name Elokim, because the world cannot exist without a conductor. Based on the words found in Sifsei Tzaddikim, we can suggest that the passage here means that once HaShem foresaw that the inhabitants would not be able to exist with the Name Elokim alone, He preceded Elokim with mercy.

Shabbos Story

The world renowned Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir (HaKohen) Kagan (1838-1933), had a rebbe who was not nearly well known as he was. His rebbe was a saintly man from the town of Horodna, Lithuania, named Rabbi Nachum Kaplan (1812-1879). Those who knew him referred to him lovingly as Reb Nachumke. The Chofetz Chaim made it a point to observe carefully Reb Nachumke’s every action and deed, for he knew that anything that Reb Nachumke ever did was done with forethought and good reason. It happened one night during Chanukah that the Chofetz Chaim was in the home of Reb Nachumke. The time for lighting Chanukah candles came and the Chofetz Chaim waited for his rebbe to recite the blessings and light the candles, but Reb Nachumke let the time pass and made no move to light the menorah. The Chofetz Chaim was a bit surprised that his rebbe would let the time slip by - but he did not dare say anything. More time elapsed, and still Reb Nachumke went about his regular routine without saying anything about the lighting of the Chanukah candles. An hour went by and then another hour, still the menorah was not lit. The Chofetz Chaim simply could not understand his rebbe’s inaction and apparent inattentiveness to this mitzvah. Finally, deep into the night, there was a knock at the door. The Chofetz Chaim ran and opened it; it was Reb Nachumke’s wife. Almost immediately after she came in, Reb Nachumke began his introductory prayers, recited the appropriate blessings and then lit the Chanukah menorah. The Chofetz Chaim felt that there had to be a lesson here and so once the flames were flickering, he respectfully asked his rebbe to explain to him why he had let so much time elapse before finally lighting his menorah. Reb Nachumke explained patiently to his beloved student. “The Talmud (Shabbos 23b) poses a question: What is the law if a man has money to use for only one candle on the Friday night of Chanukah? Should he spend it on a Shabbos candle and fulfill the mitzvah of lighting Shabbos candles? Or rather spend the money on a candle for his Chanukah menorah and thereby fulfill the mitzvah of Chanukah candle-lighting?” Reb Nachumke continued. “The Talmud states unequivocally that one is obligated to spend the money for a Shabbos candle, the reason being that the Shabbos candle, aside from the mitzvah involved, adds to shalom bayis (peace and tranquility of the home). Thus a candle that fosters shalom bayis takes precedence even over the mitzvah of lighting a Chanukah candle.” (See also Shulchan Aruch O.C. 678:1) “I have no doubt,” continued Reb Nachumke, “that had my wife come home and realized that I did not wait for her with the Chanukah candles, she would unquestionably have been distraught. There would have been tension, and perhaps even anger on her part that I did not show her the courtesy to wait until she returned. Thus I delayed and delayed until she came home.” “You see,” added Reb Nachumke, “the Talmud itself used Chanukah candles as a focal point to emphasize the importance of marital harmony. Should I then have taken these same Chanukah candles and through them caused a lack of shalom bayis? I had no choice but to let the ideal time for candle lighting pass, and wait until later to kindle them at a time that was still consistent with Jewish law. When Rabbi Sholom Schwadron retold this story he would add an interesting insight. “Shalom bayis in this instance also meant that Reb Nachumke did not complain to his wife - when she finally arrived - that her lateness had caused him to wait so long to perform a mitzvah. He understood that to complain would have fostered ill will as well and minimized shalom bayis.”

Shabbos in Navi

Yehoshua Chapter 14

In this chapter the Navi describes the request of Calev Ben Yefuneh to Yehoshua for the land of Chevron which Moshe had promised him. The Gemara (Sota 11b) states that the reason he was called Calev ben Yefuneh was because he was panah, turned away, from the counsel of the meraglim, the spies who he went with to tour Eretz Yisroel. The mission of every Jew in this world is similar to Calev. A Jew must constantly be on guard against the diabolical schemes of the Evil Inclination, and he must turn away from the forces of evil and follow the Good Inclination. With the onset of Shabbos, we turn away from the forces of evil that throughout the week have attempted to bring about our downfall. We recite the words lecho dodi likraas kalah penei Shabbos nekablah, come my Beloved to greet the bride-the Shabbos presence, let us welcome! We turn away from the forces of evil and we greet penei Shabbos, the Shabbos presence.

Shabbos in Agadah

The Gemara (Shabbos 20b) states that we light candles prior to the onset of Shabbos, and Rashi (Ibid 25b s.v. hadlakas ner biShabbos) writes that the reason for this lighting is that one should not stumble in the darkness. This explanation is difficult to understand, as in earlier times, once it became dark, one would have to light a candle every day of the week so there would be light in the house. Why is Shabbos unique that the Chachamim necessitated the lighting of candles? The Maharal (Ibid) writes that the function of light is to distinguish between various items. When one can distinguish between various items, this is deemed to be peace. For this reason the Shabbos lights are referred to as peace. Perhaps based on the words of the Maharal we can interpret the words of Rashi homiletically. When one distinguishes between what is permitted to do on Shabbos and what is forbidden, he has attained true peace. Lighting the Shabbos candles itself requires knowledge of the laws of Shabbos, such as the earliest time to light the candles on Friday and until what time of the day one can light candles. HaShem should allow us to see the light and merit observing the Holy Shabbos so that we will have peace in our lives.

Shabbos in Halacha

When one replaces the cover on a pot of hot food (kli rishon), if the cover was left off long enough to cool, it is preferable that one shake off any liquid from the cover prior to replacing the cover on the pot. Wee will learn that a ladle cannot be used at all unless the pot is first removed from the blech.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

It is said regarding Shabbos (Shemos 31:17) beini uvein bnei Yisroel os hi liolam, between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever. The word liolam can be broken down as follows: The lamed and lamed in mispar katan, digit sum, equals six, and this alludes to the six days of the week. The letters ayin and mem in mispar katan equal 11, and 1+1=2. This alludes to the onset of Shabbos when we light two candles for Shabbos, and this also alludes to the idea that on Shabbos everything is double.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Mikeitz-Chanukah 5768

is sponsored in loving memory of HaRav Nachman ben Rav Meir ob”m, niftar Rosh Chodesh Teves 5761, by his grandson Shlomo Yaakov

I will not be delivering a class in Navi this Friday night

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos and a Freilechen Chanukah

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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