Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Shemos 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת שמות תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Shemos 5769
From the crucible and Sea of suffering to the sea of Shabbos and liberation
In this week’s parashah it is said (Shemos 2:23) vayehi vayamim harabim haheim vayamas melech Mitzrayim vayaianchu vinei Yisroel min haavodah vayizaku vataal shavasam el HaElokim min haavodah, during those many days, it happened that the king of Egypt died, and the Children of Israel groaned because of the work and they cried out. Their outcry because of the work went up to G-d. This verse needs to be understood. First it is said that the Jewish People groaned because of the work. Then it is said that their outcry because of the work went up to HaShem. The Torah could have simply said that that they groaned and cried out from the work to HaShem? Why is it necessary to state that they groaned from the work and cried out, and then to state further that their outcry because of the work went up to HaShem?
Understanding the Egyptian exile and slavery on a deeper level
We are accustomed to understanding that the Egyptian exile and slavery was the crucible that the Jewish People were required to endure so that they could be liberated in a pure state of being. The difficulty with this explanation is that it is well known from the words of the Arizal that the Jewish People had sunk to the lowest level of impurity in Egypt, and had HaShem not redeemed them at that moment, they would have been lost forever, Heaven forbid. If this was the case, how can we understand the Egyptian slavery as a purifying process? It would seem that the exile was the cause of the level of impurity that the Jewish People had reached, and it was the redemption that allowed them to become purified.
Crying for physical suffering is a catalyst for crying for spiritual lack
In order to better understand the Egyptian exile, we must examine what the purpose of the exile and the slavery was for the Jewish People. While the Jewish People certainly suffered physically, they also suffered in a spiritual sense. When one is physically abused it is very difficult to be in tune with ones spiritual needs. Thus, for a time the Jewish People suffered so much physically that their spiritual level was greatly affected. Subsequently, when the king of Egypt died, the Jewish People cried because of the work, as it is said: and the Children of Israel groaned because of the work and they cried out. This outcry, writes the Sfas Emes (Vayikra Pesach 5655) was the catalyst for the Jewish People to cry out to HaShem regarding their spiritual lack. This was what allowed the Jewish People to be worthy of redemption.
Spiritual decant is necessary to ascend spiritually
Based on this explanation we can now understand how the Egyptian exile was the crucible that the Jewish People had to endure in order to be liberated, while simultaneously they plunged to the nadir of impurity. Hashem afflicted the Jewish People on a physical level which catalyzed their spiritual descent. Yet, regarding the Jewish People, the saying is “what goes down must go up,” i.e. HaShem will ultimately save His children by bringing about a respite to the persecution and suffering. Once the king of Egypt died, the Jewish People were able to reflect on their suffering, and like every Jew must do, they realized that their psychical suffering was a punishment for their spiritual decline. They were then able to direct their cries to HaShem to save them from the spiritual descent, and ultimately HaShem redeemed them and raised them to the highest level of purity, which they attained at Har Sinai when they received the Torah.
The Shabbos connection
We must wonder at times why we have to endure the crucible of the weekday, with our struggle to earn a livelihood and the battles that we wage against the forces of evil. Shabbos is our salvation, so perhaps one would think that the entire week should be Shabbos, where one can remain in a state of holiness and purity. The truth, however, is that we know from the Zohar that Pharaoh and Egypt are metaphors for the Evil Inclination and the constrictions that one feels in his life. It is noteworthy that the word Mitzrayim is an acrostic for the words meitzar yam, the boundaries of the sea. Perhaps this can mean that it is Egypt, so to speak, that prevents us from crossing the sea into a state of liberation. It was for this reason that the Jewish People were not truly liberated until they had crossed the Red Sea and witnessed the Egyptians drowning. Shabbos, on the other hand, is referred to in the Gemara (Shabbos 118a) as a nachalah bli metzarim, literally translated as a heritage without boundaries. We can interpret this expression homiletically to mean a heritage without Mitzrayim, i.e. without the constriction and subjugation that is reflected in Egypt. Thus, in order to reach the “Sea of Shabbos,” we must first endure the crucible of Mitzrayim, by struggling with the challenges that we confront during the weekday. When we are granted respite from those struggles, we can then cry out to HaShem for the spiritual lack that we feel. With this idea in mind we can understand the Medrash (Medrash Tehillim § 114) that states that the Sea split in the merit of Yosef. What does Yosef have to do with the splitting of the Sea? Perhaps the idea is that Yosef reflects the idea of Tosefes Shabbos, extending the Shabbos into the week. When one draws the Shabbos into the week, he is allowing himself a release from the physical struggles of the week and then he merits redemption. Thus, Yosef was the catalyst of the splitting of the Sea, which was the ultimate redemption from the enslavement of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Hashem should allow us to cherish the Holy Shabbos and to strive to bring Shabbos into our lives every day.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Menuchah Visimchah
Composed by an unknown author named Moshe
HaShem allows us to eat and drink on Shabbos
Nishmas kol chai vigam naaritzach echol visimcha ki kevar ratazach, recite ‘Soul of all living’ and also ‘We proclaim Your strength.’ Eat in gladness for He has already shown you favor. One may be concerned as to how he can indulge in eating and drinking on Shabbos when Shabbos is a day of the soul and not a day of the physical. It is for this reason that we declare in this passage that one should eat in gladness for He has already shown you favor. This means that HaShem has declared the Shabbos to be His day, and on His day one can indulge in physical pleasures and they are all deemed to be spiritual pursuits.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Constantly praising HaShem with every breath that we take
Umivarchin umishabchin umifaarin umaaritzin umakdishin umamlichin, and bless, praise, glorify, revere, sanctify and declare the kingship of- … While these are all expressions of blessing and praise, it is noteworthy that the angels are constantly praising HaShem. The Jewish People have the opportunity to praise HaShem in Shul three times a day, but in truth we are also capable of praising HaShem constantly. It is said (Tehillim 150:6) kol haneshamah tihalel Kah, let all souls praise G-d. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 14:9) states that we learn from this verse that on every neshamah, breath, one should praise G-d. Although this may sound nearly impossible, one is required to praise HaShem as much as he can, and the more that one recognizes the good that HaShem bestows upon him, the more he will bless and praise HaShem.

Shabbos Story
He knew the book well
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: In his youth, Reb Zorach Braverman, who later was known as a brilliant Jerusalem scholar, once travelled from Eishishok to Vilna, Lithuania. Sitting next to him was an elderly Jew with whom he began to converse. Reb Zorach commented to the old man that it was sad that in a city as large as Vilna there was no organized Torah youth group.
The old man became agitated. In a tear-stained voice he responded, “Whom do you expect to organize these groups,” he asked incredulously.” “The communal leaders who are destroying Judaism in Vilna? They do nothing to promote Torah values!”
The man went on to condemn a group of parnasim who had assumed control of the community affairs and constantly overruled the Rabbinical authorities in every aspect of communal life as it related to observance of Jewish law. Reb Zorach became incensed. Who was this man to deride a group of community elders? He responded vociferously. “Excuse me,” he interrupted, “but I think you should study the new sefer (book) that was just published. It is called Chofetz Chaim and deals specifically with the laws of slander and gossip. It details all the transgressions listed in the Torah for gossip as such! In fact, I have it here with me.”
The old man asked to see the book. He took it and immediately opened it to a section which specified the rare instance it was a mitzvah to speak out against a group of people, in the case when they act defiantly against rabbinic authority.
Reb Zorach remained quiet and silently took back the book. The trip ended and the old man and Reb Zorach went their ways in Vilna. It only took a day until Reb Zorach found out that he was seated next to none other than the Chofetz Chaim himself.
Reb Elya Svei gives new meaning to showing appreciation
Rabbi Kamenetzky writes further: More than 10 years ago, my brother, Reb Zvi and his wife had a beautiful little baby boy. He was truly beautiful. And he was truly little. Five weeks premature and only two-and-a-half pounds.
For a while it was touch and go. The prayers of a community and thousands of friends and relatives pulsed the support systems that sustained the child’s short breaths and the parents' deep hopes. For nearly two months the baby endured in the neo-natal unit under the care of the most prestigious doctors and devoted nurses that the city of Chicago had to offer. After two grueling months of prayers, incubators, and devoted healthcare, the baby arrived home healthy. The joy and gratitude to Hashem was overwhelming, but the young father did not forget his gratitude and appreciation to the mortal messengers, the entire medical and nursing staff, who worked arduously, day and night, to help insure the newborn’s health.
He wanted to express his appreciation in a very special way. He searched gift shops and bookstores for a proper memento to show his appreciation, but he could not come up with an appropriate gift. A few days after the baby was brought home, the young father mentioned his dilemma to his Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliyahu Svei, Dean of the Philadelphia Yeshiva.
“The nurses don’t want perfume, and the doctors don’t need pens,” said Rabbi Svei. “What they want to see is the continued growth and health of your child. Every year, on his birthday, bring the child to the hospital and let the staff share in the joy of his growth and success! That will be the most meaningful gift you can offer!”
[Reprinted with permission from]
Shabbos in Navi
Shmuel I Chapter 25

On Shabbos Hashem’s Name is known throughout the world

In this chapter we learn how Dovid sent messengers to Naval requesting that he show Dovid’s attendants favor and that Naval should give whatever he could to Dovid and his servants. Naval rejected Dovid’s offer and ridiculed Dovid, whereby Dovid set out to kill Naval. Avigayil, the wife of Dovid, sent food to Dovid and beseeched Dovid not to kill Naval. Dovid acquiesced to Avigayil’s request and Naval ended up dying. Dovid then took Avigayil for a wife. The Gemara (Megillah 14b) states that Dovid felt that Naval was deserving of death, whereas Avigayil countered that Shaul was still alive and Dovid’s name had not yet been publicized in the world. In a similar vein, throughout the week we are not always cognizant of HaShem’s kingship, as we struggle with the forces of evil who attempt to make us forget about HaShem’s existence, Heaven forbid. With the arrival of Shabbos, however, all harsh judgments depart and we are fortunate to recognize HaShem as our King.

Shabbos in Agadah

Moshe gave us Shabbos and gave HaShem the credit

The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 1:18) states that Moshe saw that the Jewish People were not able to rest because of their difficult slavery. Moshe then requested from Pharaoh that they be given one day a week to rest, and the Jewish People were thus allowed to rest on Shabbos. The Lev Simcha (5743) writes that Shabbos is the portion of Moshe and Moshe’s gift to the Jewish people. This is the explanation of the words that we recite in the Shabbos Shacharis prayer yismach Moshe bematnas chelko, Moshe rejoiced in the gift of his portion. We then recite the words ki eved neeman karasa lo, that You called him a faithful servant. This, writes the Lev Simcha, means that although Moshe gave the Jewish People the Shabbos in Egypt, when he was told to inform the Jewish People regarding Shabbos in Marah, he said (Shemos 16:29) riu ki HaShem nasan lachem haShabbos, see that HaShem has given you the Shabbos. Moshe did not take the credit for himself. Rather, Moshe attributed the credit to HaShem. Similarly, we recite further in the Shabbos Shacharis prayer the words ushnei luchos avanim horid beyado vichasuv bahem shemiras Shabbos , he brought down two stone tablets in his hand, on which is inscribed the observance of the Shabbos. The Lev Simcha also explains the passage in the Friday night Zemiros where we recite the words zichru Toras Moshe bimitzvas Shabbos girusah, remember Moshe’s Torah as its Shabbos precept is expounded. Why does the author of the zemer single out the mitzvah of Shabbos? The Lev Simcha answers that this refers to the fact that even prior to receiving the mitzvah of Shabbos in Marah, Moshe had already proffered the mitzvah of Shabbos to the Jewish People in Egypt.
Shabbos in Halacha

Application of Hatmanah, Insulating

The prohibition to insulate food applies to food that is completely cooked and to partially cooked foods. One cannot wrap a pot of warm food in a forbidden insulation on Shabbos.

Shabbos Challenge Question

Last week we posed the question: what is the significance of extending the end of Shabbos past nightfall? One answer to this question is that the Gemara (Sanhedrin 65b and Rashi Ibid) states that on Shabbos the fires of Gehinom do not operate, so the wicked are granted a respite from their punishment on Shabbos. With the end of Shabbos, however, the wicked are once again punished. Thus, by ending Shabbos later, we can delay the punishment of the wicked. Alternatively, Shabbos is a day of holiness and we wish to bask in this holiness for as long as possible.

This week’s question is, why was it necessary to have two commandments regarding Shabbos, one of zachor, to remember Shabbos, and one of shamor, to safeguard the Shabbos? 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
Parashas Shemos 5769
is sponsored in merit
of all the wounded soldiers, Shabbos hi milizok urefuah kerovah lavo, bisoch shaar cholei Yisroel

I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, a half an hour before Minchah.
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos.
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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