Thursday, May 1, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Kedoshim 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Kedoshim 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this week’s parashah it is said (Vayikra 19:1-2) vayidabeir HaShem el Moshe leimor dabeir el kol adas binei Yisroel viamarta aleihem kedoshim tihyu ki kadosh ani HaShem Elokeichem, HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the entire assembly of the children of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for holy am I, HaShem, your G-d. Rashi quotes the Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 24:5) that states: this portion of the Torah was said by Hakhel (every seven years the Jewish People gathered together to hear the reading of the Torah from the king) as the majority of the essentials of the Torah are dependant on this portion. One must wonder what the meaning of this statement is. Prior to performing certain mitzvos we recite the following words: “the performance of the mitzvah should be worthy before HaShem as if one has fulfilled it in all its details, implications, and intentions, as well as the six hundred and thirteen commandments that are dependant upon it.” Thus, it appears that all mitzvos are dependant on each other, so what is so unique about this portion of the Torah that it was said by Hakhel? To answer this question, we must examine the verse that instructs us to be holy. Rashi, based on the Toras Kohanim, interprets the verse to mean that one must distance himself from immoral relationships, as wherever we find a safeguard from immorality, there we find holiness. The Ramban disagrees and writes that the Torah is instructing us that one should not even engage in permitted activities for the sake of indulging. Rather, one should restrain himself as much as possible and limit himself to what is absolutely necessary in the realm of materialism. Assuming that one can adopt the approach of Rashi and the approach of the Ramban, we can better understand why this portion of the Torah was said by Hakhel. It is said (Vayikra 19:18) lo sikom vilo sitor es binei amecha viahavta lireiacha kamocha ani HaShem, you shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your fellow as yourself – I am HaShem. The Toras Kohanim states that Rabbi Akiva said that the words viahavta lireiacha kamocha are a klal gadol baTorah, a great rule in the Torah. It is written that this statement can be interpreted to mean that whenever one is engaged in a mitzvah, somehow that mitzvah incorporates the mitzvah of loving your fellow as yourself. It is said (Mishlei 18:1) lisaavah yivakeish nifrad bichol tushia yisgala, one who removes himself to court desire will be exposed in every Torah enclave. Rabbeinu Bachye (Introduction to Parashas Kedoshim) writes that this means that if one is constantly pursuing his desires, he will ultimately find himself to be alone. People will flee from him because of his inappropriate behavior. It would follow, then, that one who refrains from immoral actions and distances himself from indulging in physical pleasures will be embraced by his fellow man. When one performs a mitzvah, he is clearly distancing himself from inappropriate behavior and he is engaged in holy pursuits. Thus, whereas the immoral person remains alone, the holy person is part of the Holy Congregation, i.e. the Jewish People who serve HaShem with fear and love. It is for this reason that when one performs a mitzvah, he is incorporating the mitzvah of viahavta lireiacha kamocha. Now we can understand why the parashah of Kedoshim, which commences with the laws of holiness, was said by Hakhel. The only way to be a part of the Jewish People is by performing mitzvos and attaining a level of holiness. Every week HaShem is gracious to us and bestows upon us His Holy Day of Shabbos. Shabbos is a time when we are free from materialism and we can perform mitzvos and involve our families and friends in holiness. HaShem should allow us to all be a part of the Jewish People, and when we are all together as one, we will witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Ki hidlakti neirosai vihitzati mitasi vihechelafti simlosai lichvod yom haShabbos, for I have kindled my lamps, spread my bed, and changed my clothes in honor of the Shabbos day. The Gemara (Shabbos 25b ) states that the reason one lights candles prior to the onset of Shabbos is for shalom bayis, literally translated as peace of the house. Rashi (Ibid) explains that when candles are lit, one will not come to stumble. Thus, the first thing one must do with the arrival of Shabbos is to illuminate the way, i.e. ensure that there are no areas where one can stumble, both in a physical sense and in a spiritual sense. Once the way is illuminated, one can prepare his surroundings and himself to greet the holy Shabbos.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Viain domeh lecho moshieinu lischiyas hameisim, and there will be none like You, our Savior; at the Resuscitation of the Dead. In Shemone Esrei we recite the words atah gibor liolam HaShem michayei meisim atah rav lihoshia, You are eternally mighty, my Lord, the Resuscitator of the dead are You; abundantly able to save. Further on we declare melech meimis umichayeh umatzmiach yeshuah, O king Who causes death and restores life and makes salvation sprout. What is the association between the resurrection of the dead and salvation? The Avudraham writes that the words rav lihoshia are based on a verse that states (Yeshaya 63:1) ani midabeir bitzedakah rav lihoshia, It is I, Who speaks with righteousness, abundantly able to save. Furthermore, writes the Avudraham, HaShem rained down on Sodom and Amorah sulphur and fire, and HaShem saved Lot and his two daughters from the destruction. It is noteworthy that whereas the people of Sodom were wicked and did not allow guests in their home, Lot went out of his way to host guests and feed them. Thus, Lot was saved from destruction because of his acts of charity and kindness. It is said (Mishlei 11:4) lo yoil hon biyom evra utzedakah tatzil mimaves, wealth will not avail in the day of wrath, but charity will rescue from death. Thus, we see that charity actually saves one from death. Interpreted homiletically, we can suggest that this is the association between the resurrection of the dead and salvation. When one gives charity and performs acts of kindness, he merits his own salvation, and is saved from death, which is equivalent to one who was dead and was resurrected.

Shabbos Story

Rabbi Abraham Twerski tells the story of his grandfather, the Hornsteipler Rebbe. The custom of the Chassidim was that when gathering for a meal, a large pot would be placed in front of the Rebbe, who would taste a mere morsel of its abundant bounty. He would then pass the rest shirayim to the Chasidim, who would wait anxiously to partake in the leftovers of the Holy Rebbe. One Shabbos the Rebbe, accompanied by his Chasidim, stayed at the inn of a poor widow. The hostess brought out a sizeable bowl of cholent which was placed in front of the Rebbe. As was his custom, he tasted a small portion and stopped. He licked his lips and smiled. “This is truly delicious, I must have some more!” The Chasidim were stunned. The Rebbe never ate more than a half-teaspoon before beginning the distribution. The Rebbe took a larger portion and again commented on its delightful taste. Then he ate more. He continued to eat, and within ten minutes the pot was empty. The Chasidim were shocked at the seemingly uncharacteristic gluttony of such a holy man. Dismayed, the shammas returned to the kitchen with the empty pot, only to hear in disappointment that there was no more cholent. Coursing the inside of the pot with his index finger, the shammas tried to partake in some of the remnants of the cholent that the Rebbe had just devoured. When he licked his finger he recoiled. As he rushed to find water, he realized why the Rebbe consumed the pot while singing the praises of its contents. He now understood why the Rebbe did not distribute it to the Chasidim. He did not want to embarrass the poor woman with a possible snide remark made by of one of his flock. For the woman had accidentally added kerosene to the cooking oil. For the Chasidim it may have stunk, but to the Rebbe the taste was truly delicious.

Rav Yitzchak Blaser was once seated at a gathering of the most prominent sages of his generation that was held in his city of St. Petersburg. Among the Talmudic sages present was Rabbi Yosef Dov HaLevi Soleveitchik of Brisk, world renown for his Talmudic genius. Rabbi Soleveitchik presented a Talmudic question that his young son, Reb Chaim, had asked. After posing the question, a flurry of discussion ensued, each of the rabbis offering his own answer to the riddle, while other rabbis refuted them with powerful rebuttals. During the entire repartee, Rabbi Blaser, who had a reputation as a Talmudic genius, sat silently. He did not offer an answer, nor did he voice approval to any of the answers given by the Rabbis. When Rabbi Soleveitchik ultimately offered his son's own solution, Rabbi Blaser sat quietly, neither nodding in approval nor shaking his head in disagreement. It seemed as if he did not comprehend the depth of the insightful discourse. It was as if he was not even there! Bewildered, Reb Yosef Dov began having second thoughts about the renowned Rabbi Blaser. “Was he truly the remarkable scholar that the world had made him out to be?” he wondered. Later that evening, Rabbi Soleveitchik was in the main synagogue where he got hold of the book Pri Yitzchak, a volume filled with Talmudic exegesis authored by none other than Rabbi Blaser himself. After leafing through the large volume he saw that the afternoon’s entire discourse, his son’s question, the offered and reputed responses, and the final resolution, were all part of a dissertation that Rabbi Blaser had himself published years earlier! “Now I realize,” thought Rabbi Soleveitchik, “Rabbi Blaser is as much a genius in humility as he is in Talmudic law!” [Reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos in Navi

Shoftim Chapter 10

In this chapter the Navi records how during seven periods the Jewish People successively worshipped seven different idols. Perhaps we can suggest that the Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that one who observes Shabbos properly, even if he has worshipped idols like the generation of Enosh, he is granted atonement for his sins. Shabbos, the seventh day, has the power to atone for one who worships the seven idols mentioned here. Seven has its strength in evil, as is mentioned in numerous instances in Scripture. Nonetheless, the Zohar states that all sevens are holy and beloved, so it follows that seven in holiness can be the antidote for seven that is found in the influences of evil.

Shabbos in Agadah

Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov (Menachem Tziyon Parashas HaMan) writes that all the days of the week are materialistic. This does not refer to those who pursue their physical desires, as the Torah does not discuss those who are “dead.” Rather, this refers even to the righteous and pious ones who serve HaShem with every fiber of their being. Nonetheless, even these righteous people cannot attain perfection in their actions until Shabbos arrives. The Mishna (Demai 4:1) states that Shabbos imposes fear on an ignorant person that he cannot tell a lie on Shabbos. Once Shabbos arrives, the righteous become cognizant of how far-reaching were the actions that they performed during the week.

Shabbos in Halacha

One cannot leave uncooked food on an open flame prior to Shabbos in order that it cook on Shabbos. The reason for this prohibition is because if it were permissible to maintain raw food on a flame, one may be inclined to adjust the flame so that the food will cook faster and thereby one will violate the prohibitions of mavir, kindling, and bishul, cooking. This prohibition, however, was only instituted if there is a concern that one will come to adjust the flame on Shabbos. If this concern is unlikely, one would be permitted to allow uncooked food that was placed on the flame prior to Shabbos to cook on Shabbos.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

It is said regarding the manna (Shemos 16:22) vayehi bayom hashishi laktu lechem mishneh shinei haomer laechad vayavou kol nisiei haeidah vayagidu liMoshe, it happened on the sixth day that they gathered a double portion of food, two omers for each; and all the princes of the assembly came and told Moshe. It is noteworthy that the last letters of the words shinei haomer laechad in mispar katan, digit sum, equal seven. This alludes to the idea that on Shabbos, the seventh day of the week, there are many instances of shinei, two, and Shabbos is the Secret of Unity, which is alluded to in the word laechod.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Kedoshim 5768

Is sponsored by Jack and Shelley Jaffe in loving memory

of Shelley’s dear mother Lillian Langerman, Leah bas Vered ob”m,

niftarah December 7, 2007 – 28 Kisleiv 5768

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 and a Chag Kosher V’sameach

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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