Friday, February 20, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Mishpatim 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת משפטים תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Mishpatim 5769
Shabbos is a spiritual day accompanied by physical indulgences
In this weeks parasha we learn about the precursor to the Jewish people fashioning the Golden Calf. It is said (Shemos 24:9-11) vayaal Moshe viAharon Nadav viAvihu vishivim miziknei Yisroel vayiru es Elokei Yisroel visachas raglav kimaasei livnas hasapir uchietzem hashamayim latohar viel atzilei binei Yisroel lo shalach yado vayechezu es HaElokim vayochlu vayishtu, Moshe, Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel ascended. They saw the G-d of Israel, and under his feet was the likeness of sapphire brickwork, and it was like the essence of the heaven in purity. Against the great men of the Children of Israel, He did not stretch out His hand – they gazed at G-d, yet they ate and drank. Rashi (Bamidbar 11:16) writes that this eating and drinking is comparable to a commoner who bites into a piece of bread while talking to a king. One must wonder, though, how it was possible that the great men of Israel could witness the greatest revelation ever experienced by mankind and then engage in such mundane acts like eating and drinking. How are we to understand this apparent paradox?
Attaining spiritual heights on Shabbos requires physical indulgence
There is a well known statement from the Holy Baal Shem Tov of blessed memory who said that on Shabbos, we are instructed by the Torah and the prophets to indulge in eating, drinking and other physical actions and this is deemed to be oneg Shabbos, delighting in the Shabbos. The Zohar refers to Shabbos as yoma dinishmasa, the day of the souls. How is it, then, that one can view Shabbos as a spiritual day when he is involved in such physical acts? The Baal Shem Tov would say that the Satan, i.e. the Evil Inclination, does not wish that a Jew attain such great spiritual heights on Shabbos. If a Jew would not eat and drink and indulge himself on Shabbos, the Satan would thwart the Jew’s attempt to ascend the spiritual ladder. Thus, HaShem instructed us to eat and drink on Shabbos, and this would satisfy the Satan.
The great leaders of Israel sought to attain a high level of spirituality while their souls were separated from their bodies
In a similar vein, we can suggest that the great leaders of Israel witnessed the revelation at Sinai, and this experience literally took the souls out of the bodies of the Jewish people. While the soul leaving the body is an indication of great spiritual heights, the Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 7:6) posits that HaShem did not desire that the Jewish People remain at this level. Thus, HaShem instructed Moshe (Devarim 5:27) lech emor lahem shuvu lachem liahaleichem, “go say to them, ‘return to your tents.’” The Rambam interprets this to mean that HaShem desired that the souls of the Jewish People should return to their bodies. The great leaders, however, wished to retain this level of spirituality. While HaShem desires that a person live on a high spiritual level, and this normally requires the attachment of the body to the soul, the great leaders felt that by eating and drinking at the time of the great spiritual revelation, they would somehow be able to maintain the status of their souls being outside their bodies. This concept, that one can be totally spiritual and yet indulge in physical matters, is beyond our comprehension. Yet, according to the words of the Holy Baal Shem Tov, this is exactly the dichotomy that we experience every Shabbos. The great leaders at Sinai, however, did not follow HaShem’s instructions, and by attempting to retain the level of their souls outside their bodies, they were punished later with the death penalty.
The Shabbos Connection
This fresh perspective of what we are experiencing on Shabbos should inspire us to prepare even more for the Holy Day of Shabbos, when HaShem allows us to physically indulge to thwart the schemes of the Satan. By following HaShem’s will, we should merit a day that is completely Shabbos and a day of rest for eternal life.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Mah Yedidus
Composed by an unknown author named Menachem
Running with desire to Shabbos
Bichein narutz likraseich boi challah nesucha, therefore we run toward you, ‘Come, O royal bride.’ The word ratz, which means run, is associated with word ratzon, will. Thus, we are declaring that that it is our greatest desire to approach the Holy Shabbos.

Shabbos in Tefillah
The angels speak articulately in the Holy Tongue
Bisafah verurah uvinimah, with clear articulation, and with sweetness. The Eitz Yosef writes that the words bisafah verurah equal in gematria the words lashon hakodesh, the Holy Tongue, as the Holy Tongue is a clear language. This idea is in accordance with e statement of the Gemara (Shabbos 12b) that the angels do not understand Aramaic. It would follow, then, that the desired language of the angels is the Holy Tongue.

Shabbos Story
Seeing the angels on Friday night
The Baal Shem Tov once visited Lemberg and stayed with his relative, the Gaon, Rabbi Chaim HaKohen Rappaport, the rabbi of the city. It was the custom of Reb Chaim to pray in the town synagogue. Reb Chaim was a great and famous rabbi and he was not a follower of the Baal Shem Tov and did not appreciate his new Chasidic movement.
The Baal Shem Tov asked for permission to pray with a separate minyan of the town’s Chasidim. Reb Chaim agreed, but with the condition that his guest, the Baal Shem Tov, not pray a long Friday night service - as he usually did - as this would delay the Sabbath meal if they had to wait for him.
The Baal Shem Tov agreed to this request. In actuality, however, he Baal Shem Tov could not control his ecstatic davening, so the Baal Shem Tov prayed for a long time, and thus arrived late at the rabbi’s house. Reb Chaim was waiting for his guest to arrive. When the Baal Shem Tov finally arrived, the rabbi began with Shabbos Zemiros, and he continued the meal without saying anything about the Baal Shem Tov’s lateness, which contradicted their agreement.
When the meal was over, the Rebbetzin asked her husband, “Why didn’t you rebuke the Baal Shem Tov regarding his tardiness?” “How could I rebuke him?” the rabbi responded. “The Talmud states that on Friday night two angels accompany a person back home from the synagogue. When the Baal Shem Tov entered, I actually saw the two angels entering with him! I certainly always believed what the Talmud said regarding the angels. Now, however, I actually saw them! That shows what my level is compared to the level of the Baal Shem Tov. Tell me, then, how could I say anything to him?”
Shabbos in Navi
Shmuel I Chapter 30

Reward for those who prepare and for those who act

In this chapter we learn how Dovid arrived at Tziklag and discovered that the Amalekim had attacked Tziklag, burned it with fire and had captured all the women and children residing in Tziklag. Dovid and his men then went and took revenge against the Amalekim, killing them all except for four hundred youths riding on camels, who fled. Dovid then rescued all the spoils that the Amalekim had taken, and he also rescued the women and children. Two hundred of Dovid’s men had remained behind, as they were too exhausted to cross the Besor Brook. The mean-spirited and base people of Dovid’s men declared that the men who had not fought should not receive any of the spoils, and Dovid disgraced with them. Dovid argued that the ones who remained with the baggage should receive equal share to those who had gone out to battle. This idea of sharing the spoils applies also to Shabbos. The Gemara states that one who toils on Erev Shabbos will eat on Shabbos. Many Jews eat and drink on Shabbos but they are not engaged in the preparations for Shabbos. It is usually the women who spend the most time preparing for Shabbos, and the Gemara states that the women are obligated in both the positive and negative commandmenst that are said regarding Shabbos. Thus, it follows that both men and women will earn equal reward for preparing and observing the Shabbos.

Shabbos in Agadah

Desire for Shabbos and mitzvos

The Pinei Menachem said that his Holy Father, the Imrei Emes of blessed memory, would delay reciting Kiddush on Friday evening, as the Imrei Emes would study Zohar before the meal. The Imrei Emes once asked the Pinei Menachem, who was then a child, if he was hungry, and the Pinei Menachem responded in the negative. The Imrei Emes told the Pinei Menachem that the Gemara (Pesachim 99b) states that one should enter into Shabbos with an appetite. His words were, “one must be hungry.” Apparently, related the Pinei Menachem, the intention of my father was that one must have an appetite for the mitzvah. The desire of tzaddikim is mitzvos and good deeds, as it sis aid (Yeshaya 26:9) nafshi ivisicho, my soul desired You, and it is also said (Ibid verse 8) lishimcho ulizichricho taavas nafesh, Your Name and Your mention, the yearning of [our] soul.

Shabbos in Halacha

Exception to the prohibition of insulating with a heat-retaining material

Regarding heat-retaining materials, the prohibition of insulating only applies to a kli rishon, i.e. the original pot that was heated on the flame. If the food is transferred to a kli sheini, i.e. second vessel, one is permitted to insulate that vessel with a heat-retaining material. Thus, if one needs to insulate hot food on Shabbos, one should transfer the food to a kli sheini and insulate that second container. Based on this ruling, one can wrap a baby bottle filled with warm drink (kli sheini) in a towel to retain its heat.
Shabbos Challenge Question

Last week we posed the question: the Gemara (Shabbos 119b) states that if everything is prepared properly on Friday night, then the bad angel must declare that it should be this way the following Shabbos. How is it possible that angels who do not change can be transformed from bad to good? A reader responded: the angels that accompany us are those created by our deeds during the week. We have the negative spiritual force of all the sins we did, i.e. “the bad angel,” and we have all the good we did during the week, i.e. “the good angel.” These angels can be changed through teshuvah, as the Gemara states that zedonos naasu zichuyos, which means that the forces themselves change or at least become subordinate to the good angel and are forced to say amen. Shabbat has the same letters as tashev – return, repentance, and through observance of Shabbos we cause a transformation in our deeds and our spiritual forces known as angels created during that week. This is also symbolized by the cleaning of the cup before Kiddush as this demonstrates that one has to cleanse himself of all negativity from the week and only then can one pour in the wine, which is akin to the bracha and shefa from above. The Pinei Menachem answers that when a Jew receives the Shabbos with proper preparation, then even the forces of evil transform to good, as all the angels are created from our mitzvos and our actions.

This week’s question is: Why is Shabbos referred to as a kallah, a bride? 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 Mishpatim 5769
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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