Thursday, January 31, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Mishpatim 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Mishpatim 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this week’s parashah the Torah informs us of the laws regarding an Eved Ivri, the Jewish slave. It is said (Shemos 21:4) im adonav yitein lo isha viyaldah lo vanim oh vanos haishah viladeha tihiyeh laadoenaha vihu yeitzei vigapo, if his master will give him a woman and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out by himself. Rashi, quoting the Gemara (Kiddushin 14b) states that this woman that the Torah refers to is a shifcha kinaanis, a non-Jewish maidservant. One must wonder how it is possible that the Torah warrants that the Jew have a relationship with a gentile. What is it about this Jewish slave that forces him to bear such conditions? The Baalei HaTosafos (in Otzar Pirushei Baalei HaTosafos) answers this question by offering us an amazing insight into the sanctity of a Jew. The Baalei HaTosafos posit that when a Jew is subjugated to his master, his body is sold to the master, thus excluding him from the sanctity of being Jewish. Thus, even if the matter were not to offer the Jewish slave a non-Jewish maidservant, his new status would allow the slave to take the woman on his own. This concept is truly profound. According to Rashi, we are discussing here a Jew who was sold into slavery because he had stolen and did not have the money to pay back what he had stolen. Is it possible that a person would descend to the nadir of spirituality merely because he has stolen and could not afford to rectify his sin? Although the Torah’s ways are hidden from us, it is apparent from the words of the Baalei HaTosafos that slavery is not merely a form of punishment. Rather slavery is a lifestyle change. We see that Yosef was sold into slavery and if not for HaShem protecting him every step of the way, he could have been lost from the Jewish People forever. Slavery could be defined more as freedom, albeit freedom from HaShem and His Torah. The true king, writes the Ibn Ezra (Bamidbar 6:7) is one who is free from his physical desires. All week long we struggle with slavery, as the Evil Inclination and the servitude towards the non-Jewish influences allows us to lose our grip from the aristocratic status that we are all born into. On Shabbos, however, when all harsh judgments depart and we are one with HaShem, we have truly regained our freedom and independence from the evil forces. Thus, just like the slave who must serve for six years and then he is granted his freedom, so too we are required to be enslaved for six days of the week, and on Shabbos, we are granted freedom to indulge in the Holy Day of Shabbos, and to be alone with our Creator.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Yotzreinu yotzeir Bereishis, our Molder, Molder of the entire work of creation. What is the difference between the fact that HaShem molded us and the fact that He molded the entire creation? Perhaps the answer to this question is that the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah Bereishis 1:1) states that the world was created for the Jewish People. Thus, despite the fact that HaShem molded all of creation, we must know that all of creation was only molded for us, The Jewish People, HaShem’s Chosen Nation.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Elokei olam birachamecha harabim racheim aleinu, Eternal G-d, with Your abundant compassion be compassionate to us. It is intriguing that in this passage we invoke HaShem’s mercy four times. This passage is adapted from the weekday prayer, so we can easily explain the supplication of mercy as being a part of the standard prayer. This would justify our beseeching HaShem for mercy on the Holy Shabbos, despite the resistance that our Sages normally displayed towards personal requests being recited on Shabbos. Yet, we must wonder why the rabbis felt it necessary to include these supplications at all on Shabbos. Would it not have sufficed to praise HaShem in other forms instead of mixing praises and supplications? Perhaps the answer to this question is that despite the fact that the rabbis did not sanction personal request on Shabbos, we are still required to beseech HaShem to have compassion on us. I once heard in the name of Rav Mordechai Gifter zt”l, the revered Rosh HaYeshiva of Telshe in Cleveland, Ohio, that in the blessing before shema we beseech HaShem, Avinu av harachaman hamiracheim racheim aleinu visein bilibeinu binah lihavin ulihaskil, our Father, merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy upon us, instill understanding in our hearts to understand and elucidate. Rav Gifter asked, what is the meaning of all these requests for Heavenly Compassion? In his inimitable style, Rav Gifter answered, “Torah study requires Heavenly Compassion!” I believe that the same idea would apply regarding our passage here. To praise HaShem we require Heavenly Compassion. We require the mercy of HaShem in every aspect of our lives. Hashem should have mercy on His Beloved Nation and bring us the redemption, with compassion, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos Story

Dovid, a serious yeshiva student, boarded the last flight out of Los Angeles on his way back to his Yeshiva in New York. He was glad that they were going to serve food as he had left his home in a rush and did not get a chance to eat supper. Sitting next to him on the airplane, was a southern fellow who knew little about Judaism, and considered Dovid a curiosity. As the plane flew eastward, he bantered with Dovid about Jews, religion and the Bible, in a poor attempt to display his little bits of knowledge. Hungry and tired Dovid humored him with pleasantries and not much talking. He was pleased when his kosher meal was finally served. The kosher deli sandwich came wrapped in a plastic tray, and was sealed with a multiple array of stickers and labels testifying to its kosher integrity. His new-found neighbor was amused as Dovid struggled to break the myriad seals and reveal the sandwich, which unbelievably looked just as appetizing as the non-kosher deli sandwich the airline had served him. “Hey,” he drawled, “your kosher stuff does not look too bad after all!” Dovid smiled and was about to take his first bite into the sandwich when he realized that he had to wash his hands for the bread. He walked to the back of the plane to find a sink. It took a little while to wash his hands properly, but soon enough he returned to his seat. His sandwich was still on his tray, nestled in its ripped-open wrapping, unscathed. And then it dawned upon him. There is a rabbinic ordinance that if unmarked or unsealed meat is left unattended in a gentile environment, it is prohibited to be eaten by a Jew. The Rabbis were worried that someone may have switched the kosher meat for non-kosher. Dovid felt that in the enclosed atmosphere of an airplane cabin, nothing could have happened. After all, no one is selling meat five miles above earth, and would have reason to switch the meat, but a halacha is halacha, the rule is a rule, and Dovid did not want to take the authority to overrule the age-old Halacha. Pensively he sat down, made a blessing on the bread and careful not to eat the meat, he took a small bite of the bread. Then he put the sandwich down and let his hunger wrestle with his conscience. “Hey pardner,” cried his neighbor, “what is wrong with the sandwich?” Dovid was embarrassed but figured; if he could not eat he would talk. He explained the rabbinic law prohibiting unattended meat and then added with a self-effacing laugh, “and though I am sure no one touched my food, in my religion, rules are rules.” His neighbor turned white. “Praise the Lord, the Rabbis, and all of you Jewish folk!” Dovid looked at him quizzically. “When you were back there doin’ your thing, I says to myself, “I never had any kosher deli meat in my life. I thought I would try to see if it was as good as my New York friends say it is! Well I snuck a piece of pastrami. But when I saw how skimpy I left your sandwich, I replaced your meat with a piece of mine!

Shabbos in Navi

Yehoshua Chapter 22

In this chapter the Navi records a remarkable incident that occurred regarding the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half the tribe of Menasheh. Upon settling in Trans-Jordan, those tribes proceeded to build a large mizbeiach, altar, as a showpiece. The tribes in Eretz Yisroel decided to confront the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half of Menasheh, and they accused them of treason and rebelling against HaShem. The tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menasheh defended their actions, declaring that they only built the mizbeiach so that the children of the other tribes should not claim to the children of Reuven, Gad, and half of Menasheh in the future that they have no share in HaShem. This would cause the children of Reuven, Gad and half of Menasheh to stop fearing HaShem. Thus, these tribes made their decision to build the mizbeiach as a witness for the future generations that they will say that their fathers made the mizbeiach for a testimony between us and you, and not for the purpose of offering sacrifices. The other tribes were pleased with this response, and they returned to Eretz Yisroel. This incident requires in-depth study. However, there is one concept that stands out and is worth touching upon. The two and a half tribes were concerned for the future, so they erected a structure that would demonstrate that they had not abandoned their faith. Shabbos is a testimony that HaShem created the world in six days and that He rested on the seventh day. One must study the laws of Shabbos in-depth so that he can know how to properly honor the Shabbos and so that one does not desecrate the Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 119b) teaches us that whoever prays on the eve of Shabbos and recites vayechulu, it is as if he is a partner with HaShem in the act of creation. This is truly a phenomenal idea. When one merely recites a passage from the Torah, he is akin to having had a share in the creation of the world. We should all strengthen ourselves in the honor and safeguarding of Shabbos, so we can be a testimony to ourselves, our children and to the entire world that the Jewish People are a part of the act of creation.

Shabbos in Agadah

The Gemara (Shabbos 119b) teaches us that whoever prays on the eve of Shabbos and recites vayechulu, it is as if he is a partner with HaShem in the act of creation. The Maharal (Ibid) in his second explanation of this gemar writes that HaShem created the heavens and the earth through speech. Thus, when one recites vayechulu on Friday night, he is a partner with HaShem in creation through his speech. It is for this reason, writes the Maharal, that the Gemara subsequently proves that speech is akin to action, as it is said (Tehillim 33:6) bidvar HaShem shamayim naasu, by the word of HaShem the heavens were made. When one recites vayechulu at the onset of Shabbos, he has an attachment above with the speech of HaShem, so to speak.

Shabbos in Halacha

In summary, one cannot reheat cooked foods in a manner that resembles cooking, i.e. on a flame or inside an oven. Rather, one must reheat cooked foods in an unconventional manner, i.e. atop another pot, near a flame, in a kli rishon, or on a non-adjustable hot plate.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

The Gemara (Shabbos 119b) teaches us that whoever prays on the eve of Shabbos and recites vayechulu, it is as if he is a partner with HaShem in the act of creation. It is noteworthy that the word vayechulu in mispar katan, digit sum, equals 18, and 1+8 equals 9. Shabbos in mispar katan equals 9, and the word emes, truth, in mispar katan equals 9. Thus, one who recites vayechulu is testifying to the truth that HaShem created the world in six days and that HaShem rested on Shabbos. [Correction from last week: I wrote that the words vechol tzivaam also begin with letters that equal 9 in mispar katan, digit sum, and Shabbos equals 9 in mispar katan. This is incorrect, as the words vechol tzivaam begin with letters that equal 15 in mispar katan, not 9.]

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Mishpatim 5768

is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Hillel Shapiro in honor of the Chosson Ari Ellenberg

I will be delivering a class in Navi this Friday night

at my home 26100 Marlowe Place in Oak Park.

The class will be 8:45-9:15

We will be studying Sefer Shmuel Perek 1 and there will be Oneg Shabbos.

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: