Sunday, October 12, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Haazinu-Sukkos 5769

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Haazinu-Sukkos 5769

Shabbos in the Parashah

This week is Parashas Haazinu and will be followed next week by Sukkos. What is interesting about the association between Haazinu and Sukkos is that Haazinu is basically the end of the Torah, where Moshe informs the Jewish people of what will occur when they do not follow the Torah. In a sense Haazinu is the depiction of the End of Days and the Ultimate Redemption. Sukkos is referred to in the Torah as the Chag Haasif, and the Haftorah that we read on the first day of Sukkos is from Zechariah, where the prophet foretells the arrival of Moshiach and of the celebration of the Sukkos festival. Thus, Sukkos is a time of ingathering, and there are various aspects of ingathering that are reflected in Sukkos. One aspect of ingathering is that Sukkos is the time of the year when the farmers gather in the produce of the harvest, and this is a cause for joy. There is another ingathering, however, and this is the spiritual ingathering that occurs at this time of the year. It is said (Shemos 34:22) vichag Shavuos taaseh lecho bikurei kitzir chitim vichag haasif tekufas hashanah, you shall make the Festival of Weeks with the first offering of the wheat harvest; and the Festival of the Harvest shall be at the changing of the year. The Sfas Emes (Sukkos) writes that the word tekufas can be interpreted as strength, as Sukkos is the strength of the year. The Sfas Emes writes that Sukkos is the sustenance of the entire year. Let us gain a better understanding of this idea. There are several words that the Torah uses for ingathering. One word is asifah and another word is atzeres. After the seven days of Sukkos we have Shemini Atzeres. The Sfas Emes writes that Shemini Atzeres corresponds to Yosef. It is said (Tehillim 96:12) yaaloz sadai vichol asher bo az yiraneinu kol atzei yaar, the field and everything in it will exult; then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy. The Medrash (Tanchumah Emor § 16) interprets this verse to be alluding to the Four Species that are taken on Sukkos. There is an interesting hint contained within the word atzei. The word atzei is an acrostic for the words tzaddik yesod olam, the righteous one is the foundation of the world. The Sefarim write that Yosef is referred to as tzaddik yesod olam, because Yosef resisted temptation from the wife of Potiphar. Thus, we see a direct association between Yosef and Sukkos. Furthermore, we find that when Yosef was born, his mother Rachel declared (Bereishis 30:23) asaf Elokim es cherpasi, G-d has taken away my disgrace. We find a parallel to this wording when Yehoshua, who was from the tribe of Yosef, circumcised the Jewish People upon entering Eretz Yisroel. It is said (Yehoshua 5:9) vayomer HaShem el Yehoshua hayom galosi es cherpas Mitzrayim meialeichem vayikra shem hamakom hahu Gilgal ad hayom hazeh, HaShem said to Yehoshua, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from upon you.” He named that place Gilgal [Rolling], to this day. Regarding that incident of circumcision the prophet also uses the term rolling away, which is similar to asifah in the sense that something is being removed or concealed. Thus, we can suggest that Rachel was hinting to the fact that in the future a descendant of Yosef would remove the shame of being uncircumcised from the Jewish People. It can be said that Yosef represents shemiras habris, the guarding of the covenant, and Sukkos is a time of strength that sustains us throughout the year. It is known that shemiras habris is what sustains the Jewish People, and will even be the herald of the Final Redemption. In a similar vein, Shabbos is also an ingathering, as according to the Zohar, the blessing of the Shabbos sustains the whole week. Additionally, the Gemara (Shabbos 12a) states that if one visits someone who is ill on Shabbos, he should say Shabbos hi milizok urefuah kerovah lavo, though the Shabbos prohibits us from crying out, may a recovery come speedily. The Meor Anavim (Likuttim) offers a fascinating homiletic interpretation to this statement. He writes that normally one has to gather various herbs to create a medicine. Shabbos, however, is referred to as Shabbos Kallah and incorporates everything. Thus, on Shabbos one does not need to gather herbs from all over, and it is for this reason that the healing comes speedily. In conclusion, we see that Haazinu is the ingathering of the parshiyos of the Torah, Sukkos is the spiritual ingathering that is reflected through shemiras habris, and Shabbos is the time of ingathering that incorporates the week and the entire world within it.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Askinu Seudasa

Composed by the Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria

Asader lidroma minarta dissima vishulchan im nahama bitzipona arshin, I shall arrange to the south the Menorah of hidden wisdom and a table with bread shall I emplace to the north. The Gemara (Bava Basra 25b) states that one who wishes to become wise should face the south, whereas one who wishes to become wealthy should turn to the north. The symbol for these two ideas is that in the Mishkan, the Menorah, which represented wisdom, was located in the south, and the Shulchan, which represented material wealth, was located in the north. I saw an amazing explanation for this passage in the Sefer Kol Mevaser. He writes that Asader lidroma minarta dissima means that the ultimate goal and desire is in the south, where the wisdom is found. Nonetheless, vishulchan im nahama bitzipona arshin, I give permission (arshin is from the root word reshus, which means permission) for wealth to come from the north, as Torah scholars who are poor will thus be able to have the resources to sufficiently honor the Shabbos.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Zeh shir shevach shel yom hashevii shebo shavas Keil mikol milachto, this is the song of praise of the Shabbos Day: that on it G-d rested from all His work. Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman Shlita said that regarding the service of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, it is said (Vayikra 16:3) bizos yavo Aharon el hakodesh, with this shall Aharon come into the Sanctuary. The word bizos implies something specific and true, and on Yom Kippur we are demonstrating that we are being truthful with our recognition of HaShem. Perhaps we can suggest that the same principle applies to this passage, as we are declaring that zeh, this, is the song of Shabbos, as the word Shabbos and the word emes, truth, in mispar katan, digit sum, both equal 9, as Shabbos is the day of truth. For this reason we state that this is the song of praise of the Shabbos day, as this is the truth, which is reflected in Shabbos.

Shabbos Story

There was once a Karliner chassid who lived in a small town in a small broken down house. This chassid did not have much of anything, but nonetheless he was happy with his lot. Every year when the festival of Sukkos arrived, the chassid would wait until everyone else had built their Sukkos, and he would then go around and ask for whatever they had left over. People would offer him a rotted board or a rusted nail, and it was from these leftovers that he would build his Sukkah. For seven days the chassid would sit in his Sukkah and sing with great joy. Across the field from the chassid lived a very wealthy man. This wealthy man owned the local factory and employed most of the town. The magnate’s house was large, and he did not lack anything in the way of materialism. The wealthy man had everything he could imagine, but he was not happy. In fact, he was more than just not happy. He was really sad and downright miserable. The Sukkah that the wealthy man had built every year was a wonder. The Sukkah was the size of a football field, with an oak table, candelabras and running water. The Sukkah had within it everything one could imagine. Nonetheless, every year the wealthy man sat in his Sukkah, and when he would hear the Karliner chassid singing from across the field, it drove him absolutely crazy. There is nothing that makes a sad person so sad as to meet a happy person, and there is nothing that makes a sad person happier than to meet another sad person. One year as the festival of Sukkos approached, the wealthy man was struck by an idea. The wealthy man approached everyone in his town and told them, “When the Karliner chassid comes around asking for a rotted board or a rusted nail, do not give it to him.” Now when the wealthy man issued such a directive, what was anyone to do? After all, the wealthy man did own the town. Thus, when the chassid requested from the townspeople if they could spare a leftover piece from their Sukkah, the people would just shrug their shoulders, turn their palms up, and shake their heads. “I am sorry,” they would say, “but this year I cannot even spare a rusty nail.” The chassid was rejected by every single person in town and was about to despair of building a Sukkah that year, when suddenly he had a brainstorm. In the town’s cemetery, the people would place wooden planks to serve as tombstones instead of the standard marble or stone tombstones. On the wooden planks was inscribed the words “Here lies..” The chassid knew that there were many wooden planks in the cemetery, so he thought to himself: “certainly there will not be hundreds of people who die in this town over Sukkos. Thus, why would anyone care if I were to borrow a few planks and return them after the holiday?” The day before Sukkos arrived and the wealthy man looked across the field and smiled. This year there was no Sukkah outside the house of the Karliner chassid. Sukkos arrived and the wealthy rich man sat at his oak table in his Sukkah, with his candelabras and everything he could imagine. The wealthy man recited Kiddush in peace and blissful quiet. He then began to eat his fish, still in peace and blissful quiet. Suddenly, from across the field, he heard singing! The wealthy man quickly jumped up! “How can it be?” he wondered aloud. He looked outside and lo and behold, across the field, a shabby Sukkah was propped against the Karliner chassid’s house. The wealthy man ran across the field and burst in on the chassid. “Where did you get the wood for this Sukkah?” the wealthy man exclaimed. The Karliner chassid received the wealthy man with a glowing face. “Shalom Aleichem! Come in! Sit down!” Still standing, the rich man repeated his question, “Where did you get this wood from?” “I will be glad to tell you,” the chassid said, “just come in and sit down.” The wealthy man’s eyes darted to and fro, first gazing at the chassid, and then at the Sukkah, the door, and then back to the chassid. Frowning, the wealthy man at himself on the half broken chair across from the chassid. The Karliner chassid then said to the wealthy man, “please, allow me to tell you a story. Yesterday, I was looking around town for some way to build a Sukkah, and I asked people if they could spare a board or a nail. It was the strangest thing that ever happened to me, as I could not find anything. It seemed like everyone had used up their materials and there was nothing left over. It was already getting late in the afternoon and I was still walking around town without even the first board to use for a Sukkah. Who do you think I should then run into? None other than the Angel of Death!” Upon meeting him, I said, ‘Angel of Death! Shalom Alechem!’ and he said, ‘Alechem Shalom.’ I said, ‘what brings you to town?’ The Angel of Death responded, ‘I just have one more pick up before the holiday comes in.’ I said to the angel of Death, ‘one more pickup, huh? Would you mind if I ask you who it is?’” “Now, you will not believe this,” the Karliner Chassid continued, leaning forward, staring right at the rich man, “but the Angel of Death mentioned your name!” I then said to the Angel of Death, ‘That guy? You came to get that guy? You do not have to bother.’ The Angel of Death asked, ‘I do not have to bother? Why is that?’ I said to the Angel of Death, ‘You do not have to bother, because that guy is so sad, it is like he is already dead.’ The Angel of Death said, ‘He is that sad?’ ‘Yes,’ I responded, he is that sad.’ ‘Well,’ said the Angel of Death, ‘if he is that sad, I guess I do not even have to bother. Thanks for saving me the work!’” “Now,” said the Karliner chassid, “as the Angel of Death was about to leave, I asked him for a little favor. I said to the Angel of Death, ‘Listen, I helped you out, so maybe you can help me out?’ The Angel of Death responded, ‘Sure, what can I do for you?’ I said to the Angel of Death, ‘I really need a Sukkah for the holiday.’ The Angel of Death paused, and then he said, ‘You know, I am not scheduled to return here until after the festival. In the burial society, they have the wooden stakes that they put in a new grave before they put up the headstone. Those are the wooden stakes that say ‘Here Lies… at the top. I am not planning to return here, so you can use those stakes to build your Sukkah.’” “That is exactly what I did,” the chassid said. “In fact, if you look up there, you can see that on each board, it says ‘Here Lies….’” With that, the Karliner chassid burst into a joyous song. The Chassid’s words pierced the wealthy man’s heart like arrows. He began to cry from the depths of his heart. Finally, the wealthy man asked the chassid, “What can I do? I cannot remove the sadness from my heart. Tell me, I have everything, but no joy. And you, who have nothing - from where do you get all this joy?” The chassid responded: “If you want to be joyous, you must go to the holy Karliner Rebbe. There you can learn what true simcha is.” The wealthy man went to Karlin, and where in the past he had been full of anger and sadness, he was transformed into a person full of joy and happiness, and became one of the greatest Karliner Chassidim. All that he needed was for someone to ignite the spark that was hidden deep within him.

Shabbos in Navi

Shmuel I Chapter 12

In this chapter we learn how Shmuel requested that the Jewish people testify about him that he had not cheated them or robbed from them and the Jewish People testified that Shmuel had not committed any crime against them. Shmuel then reminded the Jewish People about their past and how they had come to request from him that they have a king appointed over them. Shmuel then had HaShem perform a miracle and although it was then the wheat harvest season when it does not rain, HaShem made it rain on that day. Shmuel had this occur to demonstrate to the people that they had been wicked to ask HaShem for a king. Upon seeing the rain it is said that the Jewish People feared HaShem and Shmuel and they requested that Shmuel pray on their behalf that they do not die because they had requested to have a king appointed over them. Shmuel then informs the people that HaShem will never forsake His people and they should fear HaShem and serve Him faithfully with all their hearts. There are two ideas that dominate this chapter. One idea is fear of HaShem and the second idea is the poor choice of appointing a king. A king is good for the people so long as they realize that the king represents HaShem’s kingship on this earth. In a similar vein, Shabbos is a time when HaShem reveals His kingship on earth. It is specifically for this reason that on Shabbos, even a person who is not scrupulous in separating tithes is believed to say that he has tithed. The fear of Shabbos is upon him and he is deemed to be declaring the truth. We should all merit fearing HaShem and the Holy Shabbos that He has bestowed upon us.

Shabbos in Agadah

The Gerrer Rebbe, the Imrei Emes (Sukkos) writes that Shabbos is akin to Sukkos as on Shabbos we request from HaShem to spread over us the shelter of His peace. On Shabbos all harmful agents are removed from the Jewish People and then there is a place for the Name of Heaven to rest. Similarly, subsequent to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur the Jewish People have attained purity and then the Name of Heaven rests upon the Sukkah.

Shabbos in Halacha

The first three conditions that were mentioned previously (a blech, completely cooked food and still warm) are absolutely required. Food can never be returned unless there conditions are in place. One must adhere lichatchilah (in the first place) to the last two conditions (still in one’s hand and intent to return). Bideved (ex post facto), however, there will be situations where exceptions apply. Thus, if one inadvertently forgot to adhere to these two conditions, there will be situations when returning is permitted.

Shabbos Challenge Question

Last week we posed the question: Why are we instructed to speak less on Shabbos? If Shabbos is a day when we praise HaShem, would not it be fitting that we talk even more? Perhaps one approach to answer this question is that on Shabbos we are not instructed to minimize our speech just for the sake of minimizing idle chatter. Rather, on Shabbos HaShem is displaying His Kingship to us and it is said (Chabakuk 2:20) vaHaShem biheichal kadsho has mipanav kol haaretz, but HaShem is in His holy Sanctuary, let all the world be silent before Him. Thus, when HaShem is revealing to us His majesty, it behooves us to be silent.

This week’s question is, on Shabbos we wish each other Good Shabbos or Shabbat Shalom. What is the significance of declaring that Shabbos is good or that Shabbos is peaceful? If you have a possible answer, please email me at and your answer will be posted in next week’s edition of Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Haazinu-Sukkos 5769

is sponsored lizchus lirifuah shileima Brachje Ephraim ben Rivka

New for this year is Doreish Tov, a daily email offering insights on that week’s Medrash Rabbah. To receive this publication please email

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos and a Good Yom Tov

and may we merit this year the speedy arrival of

Moshiach Tzidkienu bimheira viyameinu amen.

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363.

To subscribe weekly by email, please send email to

View Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim and other Divrei Torah on

No comments: