Friday, June 6, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Naso-Shavuos 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Naso-Shavuos 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

This week’s parashah is Parashas Naso and is followed immediately by the festival of Shavuos. The commentators traditionally link the parashah to the adjoining festival, so we will follow this approach and discuss the parashah and the festival of Shavuos. In Parashas Naso the Torah discusses the law that requires that people who have contracted various impurities must be sent out from the camp. It is said (Bamidbar 5:1-3) vayidabeir HaShem el Moshe leimor tzav es binei Yisroel vishalchu min hamacahaneh kol tazruah vichol zav vichol tamei lanefesh mizachar viad nikeivah tishaleichu el michutz lamachaneh tishalchum vilo yitamu es machaneihem asher ani shochein biscoham, HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying, “Command the Children of Israel that they shall expel from the camp everyone with tzaraas, everyone who has had a zav emission, and everyone contaminated by a human corpse. Male and female alike shall you expel, to the outside of the camp shall you expel them, so that they should not contaminate their camps, among which I dwell.” The Baal HaTurim offers a fascinating insight as to why the Torah juxtaposes the laws of a man who sins to the laws of sending out one who is impure from the camp. It was the sin of Adam HaRishon, the first man, who ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad and the Serpent deceived the woman, Chava, and the Serpent spoke evil about man. Subsequently, HaShem punished all three. The Serpent was afflicted with tzaraas, the woman was punished with impurities of zavah, and man was punished with death. Corresponding to these three punishments the Torah enumerates here the three punishments. Tzaraas corresponds to the punishment of the Serpent, zav alludes to the woman’s punishment, and becoming contaminated by a human corpse corresponds to the punishment of death that was decreed upon man. The words ‘male and female alike shall you expel’ alludes to the fact that man, woman, and the Serpent were all expelled from Gan Eden. It is noteworthy that the Ramban here writes that after counting the Jewish People and separating the Erev Rav (the mixed multitudes of converts) from their midst, the Torah concludes with the discussion of sin offerings regarding one who steals from a Jewish convert. Elsewhere (Shemos 19:1) the Ramban writes that it is likely that prior to the Jewish People receiving the Torah, they separated from their midst the Erev Rav, as only the Jewish People received the Torah. What lesson can we derive from the statements of the Ramban? To gain a better insight into the words of the Ramban, we must focus on the preparation that one must engage in prior to the festival of Shavuos. There are no specific mitzvos that one performs on Shavuos. Yet, Shavuos is refereed to as zeman matan Toraseinu, the time of the giving of the Torah. How does one prepare for the giving of the Torah? The Lev Simcha, the Gerrer Rebbe, cites his father, the Imrei Emes, who raises the following question. It is said (Devarim 33:4) Torah tzivah lanu Moshe morashah kehillas Yaakov, the Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the Congregation of Yaakov. This verse states explicitly that Torah is a heritage to the Jewish People. Yet, the Mishna in Avos (2:17) states vihaskein atzmicho lilmod Torah sheainah yerushah loch, apply to study Torah, for it is not yours by inheritance. The Mishna clearly states that Torah is not a heritage. What is the resolution to these contradictory statements? The Imrei Emes answered that while the study of Torah itself is a heritage, the preparation for Torah is not a heritage. We can suggest that this means that the preparation for Torah is to remove the evil influences from our midst. It is said (Tehillim 34:15) sur miera vaaseih tov bakeish shalom viradfeihu, turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it. The Mishna (Avos 6:3) states that the word tov usually alludes to Torah. Thus, we can interpret this verse to mean that one must first turn away from evil and only then can he accept the Torah. Prior to receiving the Torah at Sinai, the Jewish People were required to distance themselves from the Erev Rav, who were deemed to be a bad influence on the people, as is evidenced with the fashioning of the Golden Calf. It was the Erev Rav who instigated the creation of the Golden Calf, which led to dire results fro the Jewish People. Similarly, to maintain the holiness of the camp, those who contracted tzaraas or impurities were required to leave the camp. This law had its precedent in the episode of Adam HaRishon eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, and this act resulted in HaShem banishing him from Gan Eden. HaShem did not want Adam to sully the character of Gan Eden, and for this reason he and Chava were banished forever. Prior to accepting the Torah on Shavuos, every individual must make a reckoning of his surroundings and his actions and to properly prepare for receiving the Torah, one must cleanse himself from all sin and one must distance himself from all evil influences. Similarly, prior to Shabbos one must purify himself and distance himself from the overtures of the evil influences that permeate his life during the weekday. One who properly prepares for Shabbos and Yom Tov will certainly merit Divine Assistance and be able to study Torah in an exalted state of holiness and purity. HaShem should allow us that this Shavuos we all enter the festival properly prepared, and we should merit the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, the descendant of Dovid HaMelech, who was born on Shavuos, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Bo eshbos kaasher tzivisani lisharsecho vichein agid gedulascho birinah, on it shall I rest, as You have commanded me, to serve You, and so I shall relate Your greatness with joyous song. One of the most important aspects of Shabbos is singing and praising HaShem. Thus, we declare that we will serve you, and we serve HaShem by relating His greatness with joyous song.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Hamisgaeh al chayos hakodesh, He Who exalts Himself over the holy Chayos. It is noteworthy that the word gaeh, exalted, equals 9 in gematria, and the word emes, truth, in mispar katan, digit sum, equals 9. Thus, we declare that HaShem is exalted above all else as HaShem is the Ultimate Truth in this world.

Shabbos Story

Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: Many years ago, my father told me the following story: Before the turn of the century, Reb Dovid, a talented worker, decided that he had had enough of the shtetl. There was no money to be made, and he decided to travel to America in search of even a small fragment of the fabled streets that were paved with gold. Before he set off, he appointed his friend, Yankel, a prominent businessman, to receive the monies that would soon be pouring in from his successful overseas ventures. After taking a small fee for his services, Yankel would deliver the remaining money to the man's family. “How much should I take, and how much should I give your wife?” asked Yankel. The America-bound traveler put his full faith in the friend and simply told him to use his own discretion. After a few months, Dovid’s efforts began to bear fruit, and he sent a respectable sum of money to Yankel’s bank account in Kovno to be distributed to his wife and family. Yankel, however, had different plans. He kept almost the entire sum for himself, while allotting only a fraction of the cash to Dovid's wife and family. They, in turn, dejectedly, falsely assumed that Dovid was still not able to make ends meet. A few months went by and Dovid's wife received a letter from him assuring her that things were going well and soon he would be able to move the entire family to the United States. “Meanwhile,” he concluded, “I am sure that the sums you are receiving enable you to live in extreme comfort.” Dovid’s wife was flabbergasted. She had hardly received enough to feed her family! She ran to the Kovno Rav, Rabbi Isaac Elchonon Spector, and cried her heart out. “Yankel is cheating us! My husband is sending him a fortune, but he is giving us a pittance!” Immediately, the Rav summoned Yankel to his study, “Is it true,” asked Rabbi Spector, “that you were supposed to give the monies received to Dovid’s wife?” “Yes,” the man declared smugly. “But I was allowed to take my fair share.” “And what were you supposed to give her?” the rabbi asked, almost incredulously. “Dovid told me, ‘Give her what you want.’ “So,” he continued, a broad smirk on his face, “I took 90 percent of the money and gave her what I wanted. And that was 10 percent.” Immediately Rabbi Spector stood up and asked the man to repeat himself. “Can you repeat yourself? What did Reb Dovid tell you to give her?” “He told me to give her exactly what I want.” “Good,” declared Rabbi Spector, knowing fully what Dovid’s true intention was. “As Rabbi of Kovno, I command you to give her the ninety percent portion that you had kept for yourself.” “But why?” stammered the man. “Because that is exactly what you want. You are to give her exactly what you wanted!”

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green writes: The Maggid of Dubno was famous for answering all questions with a parable. Even when he was asked why he always answered with parables! Here is the answer he gave. “Truth was walking about town but everyone was scared to look at him. Wherever he went, people screamed and ran away because he was completely naked! Along came his friend named Parable who told Truth that if he wanted to be accepted, he would offer him a suit of clothing. That is what happened. Parable gave Truth a suit so people would be more comfortable in his presence.” The Maggid was once asked why there is a need for the two Jewish Holidays of Simchas Torah and Shavuos as they seem to have the same function. Why don't we condense them into one grand Holiday? He answered with one of his most famous stories. Once there was a King and Queen who were without children for many years. In desperation they visited an old wise man who gave them a potent blessing with one caution attached. If the child would be a girl, no man must see her until her wedding day, lest she die! When the Queen gave birth to a baby girl a secluded island was prepared for the Princess to live on where she would be raised in the finest royal style with all female educators. When the Princess came of age, the King approached a handsome nobleman and offered his daughters hand in marriage. “Sure,” was the response, “let’s meet her!” After the King explained that his daughter was not to be seen before the wedding day, the nobleman declined. Time after time the King was confronted with the same frustrating reaction. “Let’s see her!” “If not, then how do I know what I'm getting myself into?” Finally, the last worthy man told the King that he was greatly honored by the offer. If the princess had the attributes of her royal parents then he would be delighted to marry her even without seeing her till the wedding day. A date was set and the whole world was invited to the celebration. Everyone came to dance and rejoice. A marvelous time was had by all...except the groom! He was overcome with anxiety. He had hidden his inner fears over not having even met his bride. Even after the wedding he remained apprehensive. He anticipated that, although she was beautiful, somehow her ugly side would eventually surface. After months of happy marriage, he came to appreciate more and more profoundly, her wonder, beauty, charm and wisdom. Each day another wondrous facet was revealed. The Prince then became upset that he had withheld himself from joyful expression at his own wedding. He approached the King and admitted that although now he was delighted beyond measure, at the time of the wedding he had been filled with inner turmoil. A decision was made that a new party would be arranged. All the guests would be invited back but this time only one person, the Prince himself, would dance to express his supernal delight. The Maggid of Dubno explained that when the Torah was offered to the world there were questions about its contents. However, when the Jewish nation was given its turn to answer, there was a clear consensus that they were committed to do even before understanding all it contained. The goal, though, of total trust was not yet complete. The mind can know what the heart cannot yet accept. After living with Torah and experiencing what King Solomon described as “All its ways are pleasant and all its paths are peace” (Mishlei), then the Jewish nation is ready on Simchas Torah to express intense joy over The Almighty's precious gift. A great Rabbi asked a group of his students who were preparing for marriage, “On what do you base your marriage?” They unanimously agreed, “On love and understanding!” The Rabbi corrected them saying that although their sentiments are correct, they would not be able to build a marriage on love and understanding because they as yet neither loved nor understood their respective brides. Love is something that grows with understanding and the experience of sharing. Love and understanding are goals, not basis. The foundation of a marriage is a total and absolute commitment to arrive at the mountain peak of love and understanding. Similarly, the basis of our relationship with the Almighty is in this awesome initial step: to learn...perchance to understand and therefore love. Sinai was a mountain of commitment, aspiring to an ocean of deep love and profound understanding. As the entire oak tree resides in the acorn, so is the whole of Jewish destiny in the seed of that initial commitment from which we can continuously grow and to which is constantly referred to as a wedding day! [Reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos in Navi

Shoftim Chapter 15

In this chapter the Navi records how Shimshon burned down the grain fields of the Plishtim and how Shimshon smote one thousand Plishtim with the jawbone of a donkey. Shimshon became thirsty and he cried out to HaShem, and HaShem split open the hollow that was in the jawbone and water came out from it for Shimshon to drink. These miracles demonstrate to us that at times HaShem changes the order of the world for the righteous. Lest we think that we are not deserving of such miracles, HaShem has granted us the Holy Shabbos, which is a miracle in itself. Is it possible that an entire nation rests for a complete day and relies on HaShem to provide their sustenance? This is the greatness of Shabbos, as those who observe the Shabbos properly will be greatly rewarded.

Shabbos in Agadah

In the Book of Rus which we read on Shavuos it is said (3:1) virachatz vasacht visaamt simlosaiich alayich viyaridit hagoren al tivadi laish ad kaloso leechol vilishtos, therefore, bathe and anoint yourself, don your finery, and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. The Gemara states that Naomi was telling Rus to don her Shabbos finery in preparation of meeting Boaz. Moshiach is a descendant of Boaz and Rus. In Kabbalas Shabbos we recite the words hisnaaari meiafar kumi livshi bigdei sifarteich ami al yad ben Yishai bais halachmi koravh el nafshi gealah, shake off the dust – arise! Don your splendid clothes, My people, Through the son of Yishai, the Bethlehemite! Draw near to my soul – redeem it! In preparation for Moshiach’s arrival, we must don our Shabbos finery, and then HaShem will deem us deserving of the Ultimate Redemption, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in Halacha

Regarding adjustable crockpots, one is required to line the entire heating element with aluminum foil. Preferably, one should also cover the knob on the crockpot.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

The last verse in the Book of Rus states (4:22) viOveid holid es Yishai viYishai holid es Dovid, and Oveid begot Yishai, and Yishai begot Dovid. The Gemara states that were the Jewish People to observe two Shabbosos properly, they would be redeemed immediately. This idea is alluded to in this verse, as the words Yishai viYishai holid (701) equals in gematria the word Shabbos (702), and Moshiach will be a descendant of Dovid HaMelech. HaShem should allow us to merit the redemption immediately.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Naso-Shavuos 5768

Is sponsored as a zechus lirifuah shileima Yosef Chaim Avinoam Ben Alexandra Bruria

Bisoch shaar cholei Yisroel.

Shabbos hi milizok urefuah kirovah lavo.

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 Good Yom Tov

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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