Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bechukosai 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bechukosai 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this week’s parashah it is said (Vayikra 26:3) im bichukosai teileichu vies mitzvosai tishmiru vaasisem osam, if you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them. The Medrash states (Vayikra Rabbah 35:1) that it is said (Tehillim 119:59) chishavti derachai vaashivah raglai el eidosecho, I considered my ways and returned my feet to Your testimonies. Dovid HaMelech said, “Master of the world! Every day I calculated where I would go, and my feet brought me of their own accord to the synagogues and study halls.” This is what is meant when it is said “and returned my feet to Your testimonies.” It is noteworthy that regarding Shabbos it is said (Yeshaya 58:13) im tashiv miShabbos raglecho asos chafatzecha biyom kodshi vikarasa laShabbos oneg likdosh HaShem michubad vichibadito meiasos dirachecho mimtzo cheftzicho vidabeir davar, if you restrain your foot because it is the Shabbos; refrain from accomplishing your own deeds on My Holy day; if you proclaim the Shabbos ‘a delight’, and the holy day of Hashem ‘honored’, and you honor it by not engaging in your own affairs, from seeking your own needs or discussing the forbidden. On Shabbos one is required to restrain his regel, literally translated as foot, which the Sfas Emes interprets to mean the hergel, what one is accustomed to. Although one may talk about mundane matters during the week, on Shabbos one is forbidden to discuss matters that do not relate to the holiness of Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 307:1). Shabbos is a time when we should naturally turn to matters of holiness and spirituality. We have just celebrated Lag BaOmer, the day when the students of Rabbi Akiva ceased dying, and the day when Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai left this world. The Gemara (Shabbos 33b) relates that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son, Rabbi Elazar, hid in a cave for twelve years for fear of their lives from the Roman government. When they exited the cave, they observed people working the ground. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Elazar were disturbed by the fact that people were engaged in material pursuits, so wherever they looked, the object of their vision would be burned. A Heavenly voice then instructed them to return to the cave, and they dwelled in the cave for another year. On Friday after they exited the cave, Rabbi Shimon and his son saw an old man who was carrying two bundles of myrtles and was running with them as twilight descended. When they questioned the man as to the purpose of these myrtles, he answered that they were in honor of Shabbos. One was for zachor, remembering the Shabbos, and one was for shamor, safeguarding the Shabbos. Rabbi Shimon said to his son, “see how cherished the mitzvos are to the Jewish People,” and they were both appeased. The Gemara elsewhere (Brachos 35b) records a debate between Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Rabbi Yishmael maintains that that one must study Torah and conduct himself in the ways of the world, whereas Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai maintains that when the Jewish People perform HaShem’s will, then their work is performed for them by others. When the Jewish People do not perform HaShem’s will, however, then they have to perform their own labor. Rabbi Yishmael is of the opinion that one must “conduct himself in the ways of the world.” Although Rabbi Yishmael certainly advocated intense Torah study, he felt that were one to rely on others for sustenance, he would eventually abandon Torah study completely (Rashi Ibid). Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, however, opined that one must break the hergel, i.e. what one is accustomed to, which is the ways of the world, and delve into Torah study and mitzvah performance. It is for this reason that when Rabbi Shimon and his son saw the man running to honor the Shabbos, they were appeased, as they favored one who is completely engaged in the pursuits of spirituality. The Zohar (Parashas Naso) states that through the study of the Zohar, which was authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, we will merit the Ultimate Redemption. In the merit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son, we should merit to observe the Shabbos properly and then we will certainly merit the coming of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Vaeshneh vaashaleish od lihaid al kosi bisoch simchasi kaasher tzivisani lizachro, I repeated and will again repeat it over my cup amid my gladness as You commanded me to recall it. In the simple sense this passage refers to the idea that we recite vayechulu in Shemone Esrei and we repeat it after Shemone Esrei and we recite vayechulu again in Kiddush. On a deeper level, however, perhaps this idea of reciting vayechulu three times alludes to the three meals that we eat on Shabbos, and those three meals correspond to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Gadlo vituvo malei olam, His greatness and goodness fill the world. What is the distinction between HaShem’s greatness and goodness? Gedulah, greatness, is the trait of chesed, kindness. The world was created with kindness, as it is said (Tehillim 89:3) olam chesed yibaneh, forever will [Your] kindness be built. Nonetheless, the world cannot exist without Torah, and Torah is referred to as tov, good. Thus, we declare that HaShem’s kindness fills the world, but most important is the fact that there is Torah, for without Torah the world could not exist.

Shabbos Story

A widow once came to Rav Aharon of Karlin in tears. Her daughter was a kallah and she had promised to provide a dowry. The wedding date was drawing near, and she still had not succeeded in attaining the money. The chassan’s family was now threatening to cancel the wedding if she didn’t fulfill her promise. Rav Aharon had pity on her and gave her the entire sum she needed. A few days later, the woman returned, again in tears. This time, she said that she had no money to buy her daughter a wedding dress. Rav Aharon asked her how much a dress would cost, and he again gave the entire sum she needed. After the woman left, the Rebbetzin turned to her husband and asked, “The first time the woman came, the wedding was in danger of being canceled, which is why you gave her the entire sum, since the mitzvah of hachnasas kallah is so great. But why did you give her additional money now when she came for a dress? The wedding won’t be canceled because of a dress! Maybe it would have been better to give this sum to poor people?” Rav Aharon answered, “I had the same thought myself – that maybe I should give the money to poor people. But I immediately asked myself, ‘Where does this thought of giving money to the poor stem from? Is it from the yetzer tov? If so, why didn’t he tell my yesterday to give money to the poor? Is it davka today, when a woman comes crying to me, that my yetzer tov remembers the hungry poor people? It was nothing but the eitzah of the yetzer hara, and therefore it was forbidden to listen to him!’” (Ukarasa Leshabbos Oneg)

Rav Shlomo Kluger of Brod was known for his fierce opposition against the Reform movement, whose members called themselves Maskilim. The Maskilim began changing old-age customs, including the customs involving in burying the dead. They began transporting the niftar in a wagon, instead of the customary method of carrying the niftar in their hands and walking on foot during the funeral. When Rav Kluger became aware of this, he forbade any niftar which was carried by wagon to be brought to Kever Yisrael, Jewish burial. Instead, the niftar would have to be buried among non-Jews. When the Maskilim heard about Rav Kluger’s decision, they started a court case against him in the non-Jewish court. The judge ruled that the dead should be transported in wagons until the case was heard. The heads of the Torah community came to Rav Kluger with heavy hearts, and told him about the judge’s decision. They asked him what to do when the next funeral became imminent. Rav Kluger answered them, “I promise you that until the judge will legally allow us to continue with our custom, no one from the kahal in Brod will die!” Three months passed, and not only were there no deaths during this period, but there were also no stillborns. When the court case was finally heard, the judge asked Reb Shlomo, “Bring me a proof from the Tanach, that the dead body is carried specifically in one’s arms.” The Rav immediately replied, “It is written in Parshas Vayechi, ‘And they carried Yaakov their father.’” The judge accepted the proof and said, “The Rav is right – that is how it’s written, to carry in the hands and not in a wagon.” (Told over by R’ Yaakov Teitelbaum from his Rav, Rav Meir Arik) (Shaal Avicha Veyegadcha) [Reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos in Navi

Shoftim Chapter 13

In this chapter the Navi records the birth of Shimshon. Yaakov Avinu prophesied regarding Shimshon the verse that states (Bereishis 49:18) lishuasecho kivisi HaShem, for Your salvation do I long, O HaShem! Yaakov assumed that Shimshon would be Moshiach, but as we will learn, Shimshon took his life along with the Plishtim and the Jewish People did not merit the Ultimate Redemption. Throughout our long and bitter exile there have been many opportunities for the redemption, but Heaven has not yet seen fit to redeem us. The Sefarim write that Shabbos is a form of redemption. Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come, and we anxiously await the time when we will merit the day that will be completely a Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.

Shabbos in Agadah

It is said (Shemos 16:5) vihayah bayom hashishi viheichinu eis asher yaviu vihayah mishneh al asher yilkitu yom yom, and it shall be on the sixth day when they prepare what they bring, it will be double what they pick every day. Reb Menachem Mendel from Rimanov (Menachem Tziyon Parashas HaMan page 41) explains that many people plant and sow and they do not reap the fruits of their labor, whereas we find righteous people who sowed and plowed and through those acts they reached a level of prophecy. This is because these righteous people connected all their actions to the holy service of HaShem. However, it is only through Shabbos that one can understand how his actions reached such a high level of holiness. This then is the meaning of the words vihayah bayom hashishi viheichinu eis asher yaviu. The word viheichinu, written with the letter chaf, can also be read with the letter veis, as viheivinu, and they will understand. On Shabbos they will understand the truth of their actions.

Shabbos in Halacha

When one maintains uncooked food inside an oven or on top of an electrical appliance (i.e. a crockpot or a hot plate) one is required to cover the source of heat, as he is thus indicating that he is no longer concerned with raising the temperature. Next week we will describe the proper method of covering these appliances.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

The Zohar (Parashas Naso) states that the Ultimate Redemption will come by virtue of the study of the Zohar. The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that the redemption will come through the observance of the Shabbos. Perhaps these two ideas are alluded to in the word goel, redeemer. The first and last letters are gimmel and lamed, which equal in gematria 33, and this alludes to the thirty-third day of the Omer, Lag BaOmer, which is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar. The remaining letters are vav and aleph, which equal in gematria 7, which alludes to Shabbos the seventh day of the week.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bechukosai 5768

Is sponsored in honor of the birth of a baby girl

to Reb Yonasan Mackay and his Rebbetzin.

Hashem should bless them with much mazal and bracha

and give them nachas from all their children.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim Bechukosai is also sponsored in the merit of the Tanna Eloki, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, zechuso yagein aleinu vial kol Yisroel,

and in his merit HaShem should bring us Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.

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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