Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Eikev 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Eikev 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this weeks parashah it is said (Devarim 7:12) vihaya Eikev tishmiun eis hamishpatim haeileh ushemartem vaasisem osam vishamar HaShem Elokecha lecho es habris vies hachesed asher nishba laavosecho, this shall be the reward when you hearken to these ordinances, and you observe and perform them; HaShem, your G-d, will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers. Rashi quotes the Sifri that states that the word eikev means heel, and thus the verse can be interpreted as follows: vihayah eikev tishmiun, if you perform the mitzvos that are normally trampled on by ones eikev, heel, then you will receive all the blessings that I have promised to your forefathers. In the past I suggested that in the context of these verses the Torah is alluding to Shabbos, as regarding Shabbos it is said (Yeshaya 58:13) im tashiv miShabbos raglecho, if you restrain your foot because it is the Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 113a) derives from this verse that one should not walk on Shabbos in the same manner as he walks during the week. I would like to examine this verse in Yeshaya, as according to the interpretation of the Gemara, there would appear to be a difficulty in the wording of the verse. The words im tashiv miShabbos raglecho, translated literally, is: if you will return from Shabbos your feet. Yet, the Gemara interprets the word tashiv to mean restrain. The word miShabbos is rendered to mean: because of Shabbos. One must wonder, however, regarding the approach of Scripture in teaching us the law that one should differentiate in his manner of walking on Shabbos from his walking during the week. Would it not have been sufficient for the verse to state: al teileichu biShabbos kimo bichol, do not walk on Shabbos as you walk during the week? Although Scripture is replete with metaphor and allegory, it is difficult to understand the lesson in the cryptic style of this verse. Perhaps, however, the answer to this question can be found in the words of Rashi, citing the Sifri. The word tashiv means to return or in this case, to restrain. One must restrain his feet on Shabbos from walking in a certain manner. It is also incumbent upon a person to always tread carefully, i.e. to be scrupulous in his observance of all of the mitzvos that HaShem has commanded us. It is difficult, however, for one to be constantly aware of even the “lighter mitzvos.” What, then, is the solution for a person to be scrupulous in all areas of Jewish life? The prophet answers in a cryptic fashion that provides us with the solution. Im tashiv, translated as: if you will restrain, can also be rendered: if you will repent. The essence of repentance is that we are going back to our Source, and that source is HaShem. When one makes the effort to study HaShem’s Torah in detail, he will find that it is much easier task to serve HaShem wholeheartedly, and not trample on the lighter mitzvos. Shabbos is equivalent to all the other mitzvos in the Torah, yet it is easy to disregard some of its laws, such as our manner of speech and how we walk on Shabbos. It is for this reason that the prophet exhorts us to shav, return to HaShem, on Shabbos. The word miShabbos, simply translated as from Shabbos, is rendered by the Gemara as: because of Shabbos. The Medrash (Maseches Sofrim §3) teaches us that when it is said (Vayikra 19:30) es Shabsosai tishmoru, My Shabbosos shall you observe, it is not from the Shabbos that one is afraid. Rather, the Torah is teaching us to fear the One Who commanded us regarding Shabbos. Thus, the prophet is teaching us that we must repent “because” of Shabbos, i.e. because of the One Who commanded us regarding the Shabbos. HaShem should allow us to walk faithfully in his ways and observe His Shabbos with joy.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Askinu Seudasa

Composed by the Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria

Tzivachin af aksin biteilin ushvisin biram anpin chaditin viruchin im nafshin, screaming and anguished, nullified and suspended! But for Israel - a new face, and spirit with soul increased. The explanation of this passage is that the powers of evil despair with the onset of Shabbos as they cannot penetrate the sanctity of Shabbos, where the union between the Jewish People and HaShem occurs. The new face refers to the neshama yeseira, the extra soul that HaShem bestows upon us with the onset of Shabbos. The words viruchin im nafshin literally mean spirits and souls. Perhaps this alludes to the idea mentioned in the Zohar (3:29) that on Shabbos, in addition to the neshama yeseira, there is also a ruach yeseira, an extra spirit, and a nefesh yeseira, an extra soul.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Kara lashemesh vayizrach ohr, He called out to the sun and it glowed with light. This seemingly simple passage contains a profound idea. HaShem called to the sun to illuminate the world, and the sun performed its role. Instead of seeking excuses, we should take a lesson from the sun and serve HaShem unequivocally.

Shabbos Story

Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: In 1987, Rabbi Yosef Karmel, currently National Director of Peylim/Lev L’Achim, was Director of Camp Agudah of the Midwest, in South Haven Michigan. One weekend he invited two prominent guests to the camp; Rabbi Eliezer Levin, one of America’s oldest and most revered rabbis, a student of the Chofetz Chaim, and the Rav of Detroit for nearly fifty years and his son, Rabbi Avraham Chaim Levin, dean and founder of the Telshe Yeshiva of Chicago, a member of the council of Torah Sages, of Agudath Israel, and one of the outstanding and dynamic leaders of American Orthodoxy. It was a rare and extraordinary occasion for the campers, and the atmosphere was spiritually charged. Guests arrived in South Haven to bask in the glow of two generations of Torah giants. After the Shabbos services, Rabbi Karmel announced that while the campers would attend their regularly scheduled learning classes, Rabbi Avraham Chaim Levin would teach the Daf HaYomi, the daily-apportioned Talmudic folio, studied concurrently by Jews the world over, to the lay guests who had come to vacation that weekend together with the camp and the distinguished visitors. As everyone dispersed from shul Rabbi Karmel felt a soft tap on his arm. “Where,” the elderly Rav of Detroit asked, “is the Daf HaYomi shiur taking place?” Rabbi Karmel understood that Rav Levin, ever the rabbinic gentleman, had somehow figured it to be improper for him not to attend the class along with all the other guests. In his humility, conjectured Rabbi Karmel, this scholar - who most certainly could spend the time studying Torah on his own lofty level, was about to sacrifice an hour sitting at a class geared lay people, all in the name of good manners. Reassuringly the camp director told the elderly Rav Levin, “There is no need for you to attend this shiur. It is intended for the Ba’ale Batim (lay people) and no one expects the Rav to attend.” The elderly Rav looked at Rabbi Karmel with incredulity and uttered words, which Rabbi Karmel told me, he will never forget: “What? Do you think I would miss the chance to hear my son teach a blatt of Gemara?” (Rabbi Karmel added afterwards: “At the time of this story Rav Avrohom Chaim, soon to become a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America, had already served as a Rosh Yeshiva for more than thirty years. The shiur he was to say was not a singular event but rather an example of what he has done so well for many decades. There certainly was no question as to his ability to deliver a brilliant shiur. Yet, to his father it represented an opportunity to be amongst the listeners; a tangible nachas that was more real than all the fame his son had so deservedly accumulated.”)

Rabbi Kamenetzky writes further: A number of years ago, one particular yeshiva student entered 9th grade. In his elementary school, this youngster earned a reputation for being very bright, but also being one of the wildest and most innovative troublemakers that a school can afford! The high school was afraid to accept him, but his potential for success and his parent's good standing in the community helped them decide to take a chance. The dean of the school wanted to place him in a class with a no-nonsense, make-‘em-work type of rabbi, but the high school’s principal strongly disagreed. He wanted to put him into a class that had a new teacher, a quiet young man who hardly spoke above a whisper. In addition to his low-key demeanor, the rabbi looked as frail and emaciated as a war-refugee. That rabbi’s most outstanding trait, which was inversely proportional to his physical stature, was his love and devotion toward even the most difficult student. The principal assured the dean that despite this young student’s reputation, he would thrive with this rebbe. Against his better judgment, the dean consented. What took place was truly remarkable. This young boy not only excelled in his Hebrew studies, but during class he never called out, sat quietly in his chair taking notes, and participated in all the discussions. The dean asked the rabbi how he was able to calm him down, and the rabbi just shrugged. Then the dean decided to ask the boy himself. “What changed your classroom attitude this year?” asked the austere dean. “What formula do we have that made you so successful? I’d love to know so I can share it with all our students.” “Sorry,” smiled the boy. “It was not you or even the school. It’s rebbe! You see, I thought to myself, how can I even think of making trouble. Rebbe is such a tzaddik; he cares so much for me. I know that he even davens (prays) for my success, and I am almost sure that he even fasts for me! I may be a troublemaker, but I am surely no ingrate!” [Reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos in Navi

Shmuel I Chapter 5

In this chapter we learn how after the Plishtim captured the Aron, the Holy Ark, they were afflicted with hemorrhoids. Seeing that the cause of their affliction was the Aron, they transferred the Aron from one city to the next. Thus, they recognized that HaShem was all-powerful, and they did not wish to retain the Aron. One who reads this chapter should be struck by an obvious observation. The Plishtim clearly saw the hand of HaShem. Yet, all they chose to do was remove the cause of their affliction from their midst. They could not take the extra step of recognizing HaShem and abandoning their idols. We, the Chosen People, merit every week to bask in the Divine Presence of HaShem, on His Holy Day of Shabbos. Is it possible that we can return to the weekday without being uplifted and inspired in some way? HaShem should allow us to keep the light of the Holy Shabbos burning in our hearts throughout the week.

Shabbos in Agadah

The Pinei Menachem, the Gerrer Rebbe, writes (Vaeschanan 5755) that the Gemara (Pesachim 105b) states that one can take in Shabbos early but one should end Shabbos late. The reason for this ruling is so that one does not view Shabbos as a burden. The mitzvos were not given to us for pleasure, and one should be cognizant of the yoke of responsibility that the mitzvah entails. Nonetheless, one should not willingly remove the yoke of a mitzvah from upon him. It is said (perhaps in the name of the Rizhiner) that one should not look to see when Shabbos will depart. This is akin to a king who arrives in a city. One should not be looking for the time when the king will depart.

Shabbos in Halacha

A pot can only be ‘returned’ to a flame that is covered by a blech. [It is preferable to also have the knobs covered.] One can never return a pot to an open flame. Although we have explained previously that one can ‘maintain’ fully cooked food on an open flame, nonetheless, one can return the food to its place once the food has been removed from the fire. It is, however, permitted for one to transfer the pot from the open fire to a fire that is covered by a blech (provided that the other four conditions are met). [It is advisable that one always use a blech, even when he is not required to do so under the laws of shihiyah, maintaining, in order to permit lifting and removing the food.]

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

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. It is noteworthy that the word Shabbos is found three times in this verse; once in the word tashiv and the word miShabbos and the word laShabbos. Perhaps this alludes to the Halacha that one should eat three meals on Shabbos.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Eikev 5768

Is sponsored in loving memory of Ita Tzipporah bas R’ Hirsch ob”m

I will be giving a class in Navi Shabbos afternoon

at Congregation Dovid Ben Nuchim-Aish Kodesh,

14800 West Lincoln, in Oak Park, an hour before Minchah.

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos and may we merit this year the speedy arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu bimheira viyameinu amen.

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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