Thursday, February 21, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Ki Sisa 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Ki Sisa 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this week’s parashah the Torah elaborates on the mitzvah of Shabbos, the holiest day of the week. It is said (Shemos 31:16-17) veshamru vnei Yisroel es HaShabbos laasos es HaShabbos ledorosam bris olam beini uvein bnei Yisroel os hi liolam ki sheishes yamim asah HaShem es hashamayim vies haaretz uvayom hashevii shavas vayenafash, the Children of Israel shall observe the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos an eternal covenant for their generations. Between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever that in a six-day period HaShem made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. Rashi interprets the word vayenafash to be referring to HaShem. Despite the fact that it is not possible to state that HaShem rested, HaShem attributed rest to Himself in a way that one can possibly fathom this concept of HaShem resting. Interestingly, the Gemara (Taanis 27b) interprets the word vayenafash in an entirely different manner. The Gemara states kivan sheshavas vay avdah nefesh, once the Shabbos ends, woe that the soul is lost. The commentators understand the Gemara to be referring to the neshama yeseira, the extra soul that HaShem bestows upon every Jew with the onset of Shabbos. The obvious question on this Gemara is, why does the Torah allude to the concept of a neshama yeseira on Shabbos upon the departure of Shabbos, as opposed to what would seem more inspiring if we were informed that the neshama yeseira enters with the onset of Shabbos. To answer this question, it is worthwhile to examine a passage that we recite in the Shabbos morning prayers. We recite the words yismach Moshe bematnas chelko ki eved neeman karasa lo kelil tiferes birosho nasata lo biamado lefeonecho al har Sinai ushnei luchos avanim horid beyado vichasuv bahem shemiras Shabbos vichein kasuv bisorasecho, Moshe rejoiced in the gift of his portion: that You called him a faithful servant. A crown of splendor You placed on his head when he stood before You on Mount Sinai. He brought down two stone tablets in his hand, on which is inscribed the observance of the Shabbos. So it is written in Your Torah… We then continue to recite the passage of veshamru vnei Yisroel es HaShabbos that was quoted above. I have always been troubled by the words “He brought down two stone tablets in his hand, on which is inscribed the observance of the Shabbos. So it is written in Your Torah.” It would appear from the juxtaposition of the idea that Moshe brought down two tablets to the idea of Shabbos observance that the tablets and the Shabbos are somehow intertwined. We all know that Shabbos is one of the Ten Commandments, but why is Shabbos singled out in our prayers as having been inscribed in the tablets. Baruch HaShem, this year I believe I found the answer to this question. Rabbi Yissachar Frand on poses a question regarding the Torah’s description of the luchos, the two tablets. Here is an abridged version of what he writes: The pessukim in our parashah read as follows: “Moshe turned and descended from the mountain, with the two the Luchos in his hand, Luchos inscribed on both of their surfaces; they were inscribed on one side and on the other. The Luchos are the work of G-d and the script was the script of G-d, etched on the Luchos.” [Shemos 32:15-16]. The Torah explains these Luchos. They were the most unique item in all of creation! They were something written by the Hand of G-d. What does Moshe Rabbeinu do? He takes the Luchos and he breaks them! The Shemen HaTov by Rabbi Dov Weinberger makes a very interesting observation. Is this the place to describe the Luchos? The proper place to describe them would have been earlier in the narrative, when they were first given to Moshe [Shemos 31:1]. Why now – as they are being broken – does the Torah first go into the detail describing how unique these Luchos were? The simple interpretation is that the Torah is emphasizing – DESPITE the fact that the Luchos were so special and so unique, NEVERTHELESS Moshe broke them. The Shemen HaTov gives a different insight, which is a very true commentary about life in general. We rarely appreciate what we have while we have it. Only when we are about to lose something do we first appreciate what we had. Earlier, when Moshe was first given the Luchos, we thought that they were ours and that we would have them until the end of time. We hardly noticed their special quality. But now when we are about to lose them, we finally begin to appreciate them. This is the quote from Rabbi Frand. I would like to suggest that in our Shabbos morning prayers, we are mirroring the manner in which the Torah juxtaposes the observance of Shabbos to the luchos. The Torah informs us that upon the departure of Shabbos, the neshama yeseira departs as well. Subsequent to this teaching we learn about the glory of the luchos, and this precedes the description of Moshe breaking the luchos. The Torah is thus demonstrating to us that the breaking of the luchos is akin to the departure of the neshama yeseira when Shabbos ends. It is for this reason that in the prayers on Shabbos morning we juxtapose the idea that Moshe descended with the two luchos, in which the observance of Shabbos is inscribed. The juxtaposition of these two ideas teaches us how important it is to savor the study of Torah and the observance of Shabbos. Indeed, the Zohar states that a Torah scholar is in the category of Shabbos, and the reason for this is because the Torah scholar never loses his appreciation for Torah study. We should merit having a love for Torah study and for the observance of Shabbos, and then HaShem will allow us to merit the day that will be completely Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Vizakeinu likabel Shabbosos mitoch rov simcha. Privilege us to receive Sabbaths amid abundant gladness. It is well known that the Satan works diligently on Friday afternoon to cause strife and discord in Jewish homes. It is thus fitting that we pray that HaShem allow us to receive the Shabbos amid abundant gladness, as the Satan deplores those who perform mitzvos with joy.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Magen yisheinu, O Shield of our salvation. A shield is what protects a soldier from the enemy. Here we describe HaShem as the Shield of our salvation. Although we have not yet merited the Ultimate Redemption, we acknowledge that HaShem is constantly saving us from our enemies, and this is also deemed to be salvation. May HaShem allow us to see the Ultimate Salvation, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos Story

Rav Chaim of Sanz had a custom: he would test the local children on a monthly basis. The children would recite orally from the Mishnah or Talmud and Rav Chaim would reward them generously with sweets and money. Once a group of secular Jews decided to dupe Rav Chaim. They taught a Talmudic selection to a gentile child and reviewed it with him until he knew it perfectly. They dressed him like a Chasidic child and had him stand in line with all the other children to be tested. The rabbi listened to the young boy intently. The other children were puzzled: they did not remember this boy from their cheder, yet they were amazed at the remarkable fluency he displayed in reciting his piece. Rav Chaim was not impressed at all. He turned to the young man and said, “please tell your father that there are better ways to earn a few coins!” With that he dismissed the child. The secularists were shocked. “How did the Rabbi know?” Their curiosity forced them to approached Rav Chaim. Rav Chaim smiled as he answered them. “There are two ways to say the Gemara. One is filled with spirituality. The child’s body is swaying and filled with the emotion of Torah. The other is just repetitive rote. This young man lacked the fire and the true joy that the Jewish children have when learning Torah. I knew he was not one of ours.”

Reb Dovid was happily married to his dear and loving wife, Chayka, for nearly half a century. Her sudden death cast him into a terrible depression for which there was almost no cure. His son and daughter-in-law, Roizy, graciously invited him to stay at their home and share everything with them. Reb Dovid’s daughter-in-law, cooked every meal for him but Reb Dovid was never pleased. No matter how deliciously prepared the meals were, he would sigh and mutter to himself, loud enough for his son to hear, “this was not the way Momma made the soup.” Roizy poured through her mother-in-law’s old recipe books and tried to re-create the delicious taste for which her father-in-law longed. But Reb Dovid was still not pleased. One day, while the soup was on the fire, Reb Dovid’s grandchild fell outside. In her haste to get to the child, Roizy almost dropped in the entire pepper shaker. In addition, by the time the child was washed and bandaged, the soup was totally burned! There was nothing for Reb Dovid’s daughter to do but serve the severely spiced, burnt soup. She stood in agony as her elderly father in-law brought the soup to his lips. This time he would probably more than mumble a complaint. But it was not to be. A wide smile broke across Reb Dovid’s face. “Delicious! my dear daughter,” said Reb Dovid with a tear in his eye. “Absolutely delicious! This is exactly how Momma made the soup!” [Stories told by Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky and reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos in Navi

Shoftim Chapter 1

In this opening chapter of the Book of Shoftim, the Navi records how the tribe of Yehudah went to battle against the Canaanites and Perezites and defeated them. The Navi then records how the tribe of Yehudah captured Chevron and Calev then offered his daughter Achsa in marriage to whoever would capture Kiryas Sefer. Asniel ben Kenaz captured Kiryas Sefer and then Calev’s daughter requested of her father to give her a source of blessing, as she had been given arid land. She desired springs of water, and Calev gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. In Kabbalah there are two forms of Gan Eden, Paradise. One is referred to as Gan Eden HaTachton, the Lower Paradise, and there is also Gan Eden HaElyon, the Upper Paradise. Shabbos is deemed to be parallel to the World to Come and to Paradise. The Medrash (Shochar Tov 92:1) states that everything on Shabbos is double. Perhaps we can suggest that on Shabbos we earn a portion in the Lower Paradise and in the Upper Paradise. This is alluded to in Achsah’s request from Calev and his response to her. She requested a source of blessing, i.e. Shabbos, as the weekdays are void of true life, and Calev responded by bestowing upon her the upper springs and the lower springs, which allude to the Upper Paradise and the Lower Paradise.

Shabbos in Agadah

There are many events that are associated with Shabbos. We will soon be entering into the period referred to as the Four Shabbosos, when we read in the Torah Parashas Shekalim, Zachor, HaChodesh and Parah. Perhaps the idea of these four readings being associated with Shabbos is to teach us that we must always anticipate Shabbos and when Shabbos arrives, we will merit even more than what we were expecting. Thus, Shabbos is not one-dimensional. Rather, Shabbos encompasses all aspects of life, from charity, remembrance, purity and redemption, which are reflected in these four parshiyos.

Shabbos in Halacha

Foods that were left on the perimeter of the blech (i.e. not yad soledes bo) cannot be moved into the yad soledes bo area on Shabbos. It is common that when one will leave several pots on the blech prior to Shabbos, he will place one or more pots on the perimeter of the blech (i.e. not yad soledes bo). The pots cannot be moved closer to the flame, near the area where they can become yad soledes bo.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

In Shabbos Zemiros we recite the words hashomer Shabbos habein im habas, whoever keeps the Shabbos, a man and woman alike. It is fascinating to note that the word bein in mispar katan, digit sum, equals 7, which alludes to Shabbos, the seventh day of the week. The word habas in mispar katan, equals 11, and 1+1=2. This alludes to the idea that on Shabbos everything is double. This is also significant because the word bas in Aramaic means rest, and on Shabbos we are commanded to rest. Alternatively, the word bas in mispar katan equals 6. Bein refers to the male, who influences the bas, the female. Thus, bein, 7, which alludes to Shabbos, influences bas, which is the 6 days of the week.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Ki Sisa 5768

is sponsored by the Waxenberg family on the occasion of the first yahrtzeit of their dear mother and grandmother, Janis Waxenberg, Yehudis bas Tzvi Hirsch ob”m

Niftarah 23 Adar

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Ki Sisa 5768

is also sponsored by Rabbi Aharon Amzalak in loving memory of his dear father whose yahrtzeit was 10 Adar

The class in Navi will resume IY”H on Shabbos afternoons after the clock changes.

The class will be held at Congregation Dovid Ben Nuchim-Aish Kodesh 14800 West Lincoln, in Oak Park, ½ an hour before Minchah.

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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Anonymous said...

Wonderful dvar Torah rav! Only a day ago when learning the parsha, specifically the annulment of the Brit Har Sinai-- Am Yisrael alone in the midbar stripped of its true purpose--I felt the desolation. The emptiness. To the point of tears.
This is the loss which you bring to your dvar.

But I must look for a source for the breaking of the luchot symblozing abrogation of the Brit.

Shabbat Shalom

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words. Is it not obvious that breaking the luchos was an annulment of the bris?

Shabbat Shalom

Reb Ben