Shabbos in the Parashah
In this week’s parashah it is said (Shemos 35:1) Vayakhel Moshe es kol adas binei yisroel vayomer aleihem eileh hadevarim asher tzivah HaShem laasos osam, Moshe assembled the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and said to them: “These are the things that HaShem commanded, to do them.” The Baal HaTurim writes that at the end of last week’s parashah it is said (Shemos 34:35) virau binei yisroel es penei Moshe ki karan ohr penei Moshe, when the Children of Israel saw Moshe’s face, that Moshe’s face had become radiant. The Torah juxtaposes this verse to the parashah of Shabbos to teach us what the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:2) states that the shine on one’s face during the week is not the same as the shine one exudes on Shabbos. This teaching is fascinating, as it reveals to us the secrets that are hidden within the Torah. Additionally, there is another aspect to Shabbos that is alluded to in this opening verse. The Baal HaTurim writes that the fact that the Torah juxtaposes Vayakhel, and he assembled, to the laws of Shabbos, reflects on the idea that on Shabbos and on the festivals the people come to hear the lectures. I would like to extend this idea further to incorporate the idea of unity. There is a custom that one immerses himself in a mikveh prior to the onset of Shabbos. It is accepted that the reason for this is so that one enters into the Shabbos in state of purity and holiness. Perhaps there is an added dimension to the concept of immersing in a mikveh prior to the onset of Shabbos. The word mikveh means gathered. It is said (Bereishis 1:9) vayomer Elokim yikavu hamayim mitachas hashamayim el makom echod viseiraeh hayabashah vayehi chein, Hashem said, “Let the waters beneath the heaven be gathered into one area, and let the dry land appear.” Thus, we see that a mikveh means a gathered pool of water. It is noteworthy that the verse states that the waters shall be gathered into one makom, area. It would seem that the words mikveh and makom are associated as they both contain the letters mem, kuf and vav (the root word for mikveh is kaveh and makom is a different word; I am just referring to the similarity in letters). This verse is actually the first time that the word makom is mentioned in the Torah. We recite in the Shabbos Mussaf prayers the words ayeh mikom kevodo, where is His place of glory? The Arizal writes that the word ayeh is an acronym for the words es yom haShabbos. We have mentioned previously that the word makom appears to signify Shabbos. Shabbos is thus the place where we are focused on and to which we gather ourselves. One immerses in a mikveh prior to the onset of Shabbos to demonstrate that he is uniting himself with all of the Jewish People. This idea is essentially the underlying theme of any mitzvah that we perform. The Medrash (Toras Kohanim Kedoshim) states that the mitzvah of viahavta lereiecho kamocha, that one should love his friend like himself, is a great rule in Torah. This is interpreted to mean that whenever one performs a mitzvah, in some respect he is incorporating the entire Jewish People in the fulfillment of the mitzvah. Thus, one immerses in a mikveh, a gathering of water, to enter into the makom echod, the one place, which alludes to Shabbos, which is referred to as raza diechod, the Secret of Unity. Hashem should allow us to purify our hearts so that we are united in serving Him and observing His Holy Shabbos.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Ribbon kol HaOlamim
Published in 5401 (1641)
Umitcoh osher vechavod, amid wealth and honor. It is said (Mishlei 10:22) bircas HaShem hi taashir, it is the blessing of HaShem that enriches. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:1) states that this refers to Shabbos. One who observes the Shabbos will merit great riches. The reason for this, writes the Igra DiKallah, is because the Zohar states that Shabbos bestows blessing upon the six days of the week. Thus, when one observes the Shabbos properly, he will merit great riches from his work during the week, and this will allow him to receive Shabbos amid wealth and honor.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Misgav baadeinu, be a stronghold for us. We have already mentioned that HaShem is Tzur misgabeinu, our rocklike stronghold. One must wonder, then, why are we requesting now that HaShem should be a stronghold for us? Perhaps the answer to this question is that the word Misgav stronghold, is reserved for the Jewish People, as it is said (Tehillim 20:2) yancho HaShem biyom tzarah yisagevcha shem Elokei Yaakov, may HaShem answer you on the day of distress; may the Name of Yaakov’s G-d make you impregnable. We find that Moshe requested from HaShem that He only rest His Divine Presence on the Jewish People and not on the gentiles. Similarly, we request that HaShem be a stronghold for us and not for the other nations of the world.
A famous Magid was asked to lecture in a prosperous and modern city. Before he was to speak he was told to consult with the synagogue's president. “This is a very distinguished community,” he was told, “and we must be careful. We surely would not want to offend anyone with even the slightest rebuke.” The Magid met the president who was sitting in a richly upholstered leather armchair behind a mahogany desk. As the Magid entered, the man rested his lit cigar on the corner of a brass ashtray. “Rabbi,” asked the president, “you have a reputation as a remarkable speaker. One who inspires crowds and makes - might I say - waves. “Pray tell me,” he continued, “what are you intending to speak about in our town?” The Magid promptly replied, “I intend to talk about Shabbos observance.” The president’s face turned crimson. “Oh no dear rabbi, please. In this town, such talk will fall on deaf ears. We all struggle to make a living and Shabbos is just not in the cards. I implore you. Talk about something else.” The rabbi pondered. “Perhaps I should talk about kashrus.” “Kashrus? Please,” begged the president, “do not waste your time. There has not been a kosher butcher in this town for years.” “How about tzedakah?” offered the Magid. “Charity? Give us a break. Do you know how many shnorrers visit this town each week. We are sick of hearing about charity!” Meekly the Magid made another suggestion. “Tefillah? (prayer).” “Please. In a city of 1,000 Jewish families, we hardly get a weekday minyan. The synagogue is never filled except on the High Holy Days. No one would be interested.” Finally the Magid became frustrated. “If I cannot talk about Shabbos, and I cannot talk about tzedakah, and I can not discuss kashrus, what do you want me to talk about?” The president looked amazed. “Why, rabbi,” exclaimed the president. “That is easy! Talk about Judaism!”
The daughter of Rabbi Zusia of Anipoli was engaged. As poor as he was, Reb Zusia and his wife scraped together enough money for a seamstress to sew a beautiful gown for the bride-to-be. After a month the gown was ready, and Reb Zusia’s wife went with her bundle of rubles to the home of the seamstress to get the finished gown. She came home empty-handed. “Where is the gown?” asked both the Rebbe and his daughter, almost in unison. “Well,” said his wife, “I did a mitzvah. When I came to pick up the gown, I saw tears in the eyes of the seamstress. I asked her why she was crying and she told me that her daughter, too, was getting married. Then she looked at the beautiful gown that she had sewn for me and sighed, “if only we could afford such beautiful material for a gown.” Reb Zusia’s wife continued. “At that moment I decided to let the seamstress have our gown as a gift!” Reb Zusia was delighted. The mitzvah of helping a poor bride was dear to him and he longed for the opportunity to fulfill it. But he added one question to his wife. “Did you pay her for the work she did for us?” “Pay her?” asked the wife. “I gave her the gown!” “I am sorry,” said the Rebbe. “You told me the gown was a gift. We still owe her for the weeks of work she spent for us.” The Rebbetzen agreed, and in addition to the gift of the gown she compensated the seamstress for her work. [Stories told by Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky and reprinted with permission from torah.org]
Shabbos in Navi
In this chapter the Navi records the death of Yehoshua and his entire generation. It is said that the people served HaShem all the days of Yehoshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Yehoshua. The subsequent generation, however, did not know HaShem and they forsook HaShem to follow strange gods. When HaShem observed this behavior, He declared that He would no longer drive away the nations, as HaShem wished to test the Jewish People to see if they would follow in His ways or not. Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch (Shemos 1:6) writes that the word dor, literally translated as generation, is similar to tefer, which means stitches. Thus, a generation symbolizes a tapestry of people, who are connected to each other. When the Jewish People forsake HaShem, they are demonstrating that they are a dor acher, an estranged generation. Regarding Shabbos it is said (Shemos 31:16) veshamru binei yisroel es haShabbos lassos es haShabbos ledorosam bris olam, the Children of Israel shall observe the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos an eternal covenant for their generations. Shabbos is a time for families to connect and to spend time together in the service of HaShem. HaShem should allow us to merit seeing dor yesharim, upright generations, and with our collective observance of Shabbos, we should merit the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in Agadah
The Gemara (Shabbos 86b) states that all opinions concur that the Torah was given on Shabbos. The Tur (Orach Chaim 290) writes that when the Jewish People were wandering in the Wilderness, the Torah complained to HaShem, “Hashem, when the Jewish People enter into Eretz Yisroel, what will happen to me? Who is going to study me? The Jewish People will be preoccupied with plowing, planting and harvesting their fields. When will they have time to study?” Hashem responded to the Torah, “I have a partner for you, and this is the Shabbos. On Shabbos the Jewish People will not be engaged in labor. They will go to the study halls and devote themselves to the study of Torah.” Shabbos is, according to the Zohar, the day of the soul. Were one to recognize the true value of Shabbos, he would not waste a minute of Shabbos in frivolous pursuits. One should preoccupy himself with prayer and Torah study on Shabbos.
Shabbos in Halacha
Fully cooked food that is placed within the yad soledes bo area at the onset of Shabbos can be placed directly over the flame on Shabbos. Since the exact temperature of yad soledes bo is uncertain, this rule only applies to the area that is 160º F.
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
There is a custom that one should immerse in a mikveh prior to the onset of Shabbos. The word mikveh (mem is 4, kuf is 1, vav is 6, and hey is 5- 4+1+6+5=16) in mispar katan, digit sum, equals 16, and 1+6=7, which alludes to Shabbos, the seventh day of the week. Furthermore, the word mikveh in at bash equals 184 (mem is yud, 10, kuf is daled, 4, vav is peh, 80, and hey is tzadi, 90 - 10+4+80+90=184) and 1+8+4=13, and Shabbos is referred to as raza diechod, the secret of Unity. Thus, one who immerses in a mikveh prior to the onset of Shabbos is being gathered in to the Secret of Unity.
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayakhel 5768
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