Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Tazria 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Tazria 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

This week many of us heard words of inspiration from Torah leaders regarding the tragic massacre that occurred recently at Yeshivas Mercaz HaRav in Yerushalayim. We know that on Shabbos one is prohibited from mourning publicly and one is forbidden to cry on Shabbos. Yet, it is worth taking a closer look inside this week’s parashah for a lesson that we can all glean from this shocking episode. It is said (Vayikra 12:1-2) vayidabeir HaShem el Moshe leimor dabeir el binei yisroel leimor isha ki sazria viyaldah zachar vitamah shivas yamim kimei nidas divosa titma, HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying: speak to the Children of Israel, saying: when a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be contaminated for a seven-day period, as during the days of her separation infirmity shall she be contaminated. Rashi quotes the Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 14:1) that states that Rabbi Samlai said: just like regarding creation, the creation of man followed the creation of animal, so too the laws of man (i.e. laws of impurity) are explained after the laws of animals and fowl. What is the lesson to be learned from this Medrash? The Medrash earlier states that if man were to merit, he would be informed that he preceded all of creation. If, however, man is not meritorious, then he is informed that even the gnat preceded him in creation. Apparently the Medrash is informing us that our actions are what determine our significance in this world. The Gemara (Shabbos 151b) states that there is a tradition that a lion does not attack two people. Although there have been incidents where a lion did attack more than one person, the Gemara resolves this discrepancy by stating that a wild animal can only dominate a human being if the man appears to it like an animal. We must realize that there are incidents, such as what occurred recently, where a being that most may refer to as man, but whom really was an animal, killed men. The men, or boys, who were killed, were not merely men. They were men who were engaged in studying HaShem’s Holy Torah. In His infinite wisdom, HaShem allowed a savage to overcome these holy angels and bring an end to their time on this earth. Yet, we know that death only exists in the physical form. The Mabit in Bais Elokim (Shaar HaYesodos §55) writes that man was created in the spirit of HaShem and that spirit remains with him all his life. Thus, despite the fact that death transforms the person into dust, the spirit is still alive because the spirit is derived from beneath HaShem’s Heavenly Throne. The Mabit concludes that based on this premise, it is obvious that the spirit will eventually return to the body of man where the spirit originally reposed. This idea can be applied to the Kedoshim who were massacred and were the vehicle for the sanctification of HaShem’s Holy Name. Their Torah study was a perpetuation of the life that was granted to them by their Creator. In truth we all are living creations of HaShem, and we must realize that death is merely a figure of speech. One experiences a more exalted state of life on Shabbos, which the Gemara (Brachos 57b) states is a semblance of the World to Come. Furthermore, when we recite Kiddush on Shabbos, we are in effect sanctifying HaShem’s Name in our lives. Additionally, the Gemara (Shabbos 119b) states that when one prays on Friday night and recites vayechulu, it is as if he has become a partner with HaShem in creation. HaShem should give continued strength to His beloved nation, and in the merit of the Kedoshim we should take upon ourselves to study Torah diligently and observe the Holy Shabbos properly. HaShem will then see the love that we have for Him and His Torah and mitzvos, and we will merit the fulfillment of the verse (Yeshaya 65:18) ki im sisu vigilu adei ad asher ani borei ki hinini borei es Yerushalayim gilah viamah masos vigalti biYerushalayim visasti viami vilo yishama bah od kol bichi vikol ziakah, only rejoice and be happy forever for what I am creating; for behold, I am recreating Jerusalem as “Gladness,’ and its people as ‘Joy’; for I will rejoice over Jerusalem and exult with My people, and there will no longer be heard in it the sound of weeping and the sound of outcry.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Visein banu yeitzer tov leovdecho biemes uviyirah uviahavah, give us a virtuous desire to serve You with honesty, awe and love. The Medrash (Koheles Rabbah 4:13) states that the Yeitzer Tov, the Good Inclination, enters into a Jewish person upon becoming Bar Mitzvah, at the age of thirteen years old. One must wonder, then, why we request here that HaShem should instill in us the Yeitzer Tov, if we already have had the Yeitzer Tov in our company since the age of Bar Mitzvah. Perhaps the answer to this question can be found in the prayer that we recite every morning when we ask HaShem: vidabkeinu biyeizter hatov uvimaassim tovim, attach us to the Good Inclination and to good deeds. At times our Evil Inclination can be so overwhelming that the Good Inclination is shunted aside and has little influence on our actions. Thus, we pray that HaShem should attach us to the Good Inclination so that we can perform His will. With the onset of Shabbos, however, all harsh judgments are removed, and the Good Inclination is given a wide berth to perform. Thus, we beseech HaShem that He give us a Good Inclination, who during the week at times appeared to be almost non-existent.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Umi domeh lach, for who is like You? It is said (Tehillim 65:2) lecho dumiyah sehillah, to You, silence is praise. Perhaps we can suggest that when we say umi domeh lach, we are intimating that the only way to praise HaShem is with dumah, silence.

Shabbos Story

The parents of a retarded child entered the study of Rabbi Shlomo Auerbach. They decided to place their child in a special school in which he would live; the question was which one. “Have you asked the boy where he would like to go?” asked the sage. The parents were dumbfounded. “Our child cannot be involved in the process! He hasn’t the capacity to understand,” explained the father. Reb Shlomo Zalman was not moved. “You are sinning against your child. You are removing him from his home, placing him in a foreign environment, and you don't even consult with the child? He will feel helpless and betrayed – I would like to talk to him.” The couple quickly went home and brought the boy to the Torah sage. “My name is Shlomo Zalman,” smiled the venerable scholar. “What is yours?” “Akiva.” “Akiva,” exclaimed Rabbi Auerbach, “I am one of the leading Torah sages in the world and many people discuss their problems with me. Now, I need your help. “You are about to enter a special school, and I need a representative to look after all the religious matters in the school. I would like to give you semicha, making you my official Rabbinical representative. You can freely discuss any issue with me whenever you want.” Reb Shlomo Zalman gave the boy a warm handshake and hug. The boy entered the school and flourished. In fact, with the great feeling of responsibility, he rarely wanted to leave the school, even for a weekend; after all, who would take care of any questions that would arise?

After the end of World War II, the brilliant and flamboyant Torah sage, Rabbi Eliezer Silver visited and aided thousands of survivors in displaced persons camps in Germany and Poland who were waiting to find permanent homes. One day, as he was handing out Siddurim (prayer books) and other Torah paraphernalia, a Jewish man flatly refused to accept any. “After the way I saw Jews act in the camp, I do not want to have any connection with religion!” Rabbi Silver asked him to explain what exactly had turned him off from Jewish practice. “I saw a Jew who had a Siddur, yet he only allowed it to be used by the inmates in exchange for their daily bread ration. Imagine,” he sneered, “a Jew selling the right to daven for bread!” “And how many customers did this man get?” inquired Rabbi Silver. “Far too many!” snapped the man. Rabbi Silver put his hand around the gentlemen and gently explained. “Why are you looking at the bad Jew who sold the right to pray? Why don’t you look at the many good Jews who were willing to forego their rations and starve, just in order to pray? Isn’t that the lesson you should take with you?” [Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos in Navi

Shoftim Chapter 6

In this chapter the Navi records the beginnings of the prophet Gideon, whose father Yoash worshipped idols. HaShem instructed Gideon to break apart the altar of the Baal that belonged to his father and to cut down the Asheirah-tree that was near it. Gideon then built an altar for HaShem and offered one of his father’s bulls on the altar as an offering. The people of the city who discovered the breaking of the altar of the Baal and the cutting down of the Asheirah tree requested from Yoash that Gideon should die for his actions. Yoash, however, refused, declaring that the Baal should avenge its honor. The Gemara (Eiruvin 69b) states that one who intentionally desecrates the Shabbos is akin to one who worships idols. It would behoove us to study well the laws of Shabbos so that we can also declare like Yoash that idolatry and all foreign influences are mere distractions from the reality of HaShem and His Torah.

Shabbos in Agadah

As we approach the month of Nissan, we are reminded of the great miracles that HaShem performed for our forefathers in Egypt. Moshe performed a less known miracle when he had Pharaoh acquiesce to allowing the Jewish People to rest on Shabbos. The Holy Shabbos is the lifeblood of our nation, and we must view the opportunity to observe Shabbos freely as nothing short of a miracle. In times of Jewish persecution, Shabbos was one of the main precepts of Judaism that was initially attacked. When we observe the Shabbos, we are demonstrating that we are only subservient to HaShem and not to any other master.

Shabbos in Halacha

One is permitted to stir water and other pure liquids, such as milk, if they were boiled and are still warm. This stirring is even permitted if the liquids are on a flame. (Once the liquids cool, however, liquids are subject to the restrictions of bishul, cooking, and like uncooked liquids, they may not be stirred.)

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

It is the custom amongst many Jews to sing zemiros, songs of praise by the Shabbos meals. It is noteworthy that the word zemer, song, in mispar katan, digit sum, equals 13 (zayin is 7, mem is 40, which is 4, and reish is 200, which is 2). This alludes to the idea that Shabbos is raza diechod, the Secret of Oneness, and the word echod, one, equals 13.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Tazria 5768

is sponsored in memory of the Kedoshim from Yeshivas Mercaz Harav

Haneehavim vihanimim bichayeihem uvimosam lo nifradu,

viyinkom lieineinu nikmas dam avadav hashafuch,

who were beloved and pleasant in their lifetime

and in their deaths were not parted from HaShem.

May He, before our eyes, exact retribution for the spilled blood of His servants.

I will be giving a class in Navi Shabbos afternoon

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.

For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363.

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