Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Yisro 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת יתרו תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Yisro 5769
Shabbos all the time
In this week’s parasha the Torah records the Aseres HaDibros, the Ten Commandments. It is interesting to note that all of the Commandments contain an instruction that one must be constantly aware of. For example, the first Commandment instructs us to be constantly aware that HaShem is our G-d. The second Commandment instructs us that we are prohibited from fashioning idols or bowing down to idols. All the Commandments are constant, except for one, and that is the fourth Commandment that instructs us to keep Shabbos. It is said (Shemos 20:8) zachor es yom haShabbos likadisho, remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it. It would seem that the Commandment to remember the Shabbos is only applicable on the seventh day of every week. If this is true, why did HaShem include the Commandment of remembering Shabbos in the list of the Ten Commandments?
Rashi’s interpretation of the Commandment requiring us to remember Shabbos
In order to answer this question, it is worth examining the words of Rashi on this verse. Rashi writes that the word zachor is written in a present tense, which means that one should constantly remember the Shabbos day. Thus, if one encounters a fine item during the week, he should designate it for Shabbos. The difficulty with the words of Rashi, asks the Ramban, is that this does not follow the halacha stated in the Gemara. The Gemara (Beitzah 16a) states that Shammai would always eat in honor of Shabbos. When Shammai would find a choice animal, he would declare “this should be for Shabbos.” The next day Shammai would find a more preferred animal and he would eat the first one and leave the second animal for Shabbos. Hillel, however, had a different approach. All of Hillel’s actions were for the sake of Heaven, as it is said (Tehillim 68:20) baruch HaShem yom yom yaamas lanu, blessed is the Lord, day by day He burdens us. Thus, how could Rashi write that the explanation of this verse follows the interpretation of Shammai, when the halacha generally follows the opinion of Hillel?
Remembering Shabbos is a requirement throughout the entire week
The answer to this question is that although the halacha follows Hillel, Rashi chose to interpret our verse according to Shammai, because Rashi is explaining this Commandment according to the context of all the Commandments listed. Thus, Shabbos is not limited to the seventh day of the week. Rather, one is required to remember Shabbos throughout the entire week. One can achieve this remembrance by preparing foods for Shabbos, or even by counting the days to Shabbos, as the Ramban cites from the Mechilta.
Taking Shabbos into the week
With this premise we can understand the significance of the custom to eat Seudas Melaveh Malka, the feast that escorts the Shabbos Queen. In addition to paying respect to the departing Shabbos, by partaking in this feast we are also demonstrating how we are bringing the Shabbos into the week. Indeed, the word Melaveh, which is translated as escorted, is associated with the name Levi, who was thus named because Leah declared (Bereishis 29:34) atah hapaam yilaveh ishi eilay, this time my husband will become attached to me.
The Shabbos Connection
Shabbos is in a sense the culmination of the Commandments that are focused on our relationship with HaShem, commonly referred to as mitzvos shebein adam laMakaom, commandments that are between man and his Creator. Our acknowledgment of HaShem as the G-d Who redeemed us from Egypt, and our admission that there is no other G-d besides Him, culminated in our remembering and observing the Holy Shabbos. Shabbos is the day when HaShem rested from all His work, and HaShem’s rest, so to speak, allows us the opportunity to come even closer to HaShem than we do during the weekday. HaShem should allow us to remember the Shabbos throughout the entire week, and through the remembrance of Shabbos, we will remember that HaShem is our G-d Who loves us and bestows all His goodness on His Chosen People.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Mah Yedidus
Composed by an unknown author named Menachem
Overwhelmed by Shabbos
Mah Yedidus menuchaseich at Shabbos HaMalka, how beloved is your contentment, you Shabbos Queen. There are numerous verses that commence with the word mah. that it is said (Devarim 10:12) viatah Yisroel mah HaShem Elokecha shoeil meiimach, now, O Israel, what does HaShem, your G-d, ask of you? The Gemara (Menachos 43b) states that the word mah, what, can be interpreted to read meah, meaning one hundred, and from here we learn that one is required to recite one hundred blessings daily. It would seem from this Gemara that the word mah, besides the simple translation of what, also contains within it a deeper meaning, and that is an expression of overwhelming praise to HaShem. In a similar vein, here in this zemer we declare Mah Yedidus menuchaseich, how beloved is your contentment, as when we contemplate the beauty of Shabbos, we are overwhelmed with this precious gift that HaShem has bestowed on His beloved children.
Shabbos in Tefillah
The righteous who are deceased descend into this world to sanctify HaShem’s Name
Lihakdish liyotzrom binachas ruach, to sanctify the One Who formed them with tranquility. The Tiferes Shlomo (Moadim Shaar HaTefillah page 38) writes that besides the praise that is offered by the angels, the souls of the righteous in Gan Eden also constantly praise HaShem with love and with mesirus nefesh, sacrifice, through their service of HaShem that they performed while in this world. The source of holiness, writes the Tiferes Shlomo, is mesirus nefesh, and the righteous in Gan Eden accept upon themselves mesirus nefesh, even to descend to this world for the sanctification of HaShem’s Name and for the good of the Jewish People. This, then, is the meaning of the words that we recite here binachas ruach. These words are literally translated to mean with tranquility, but they can also be interpreted to mean the descent of the ruach, the spirit, into this world. The righteous that have left this world already are referred to as ruach.

Shabbos Story
Good morning to everyone
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: Last year my brother, Rabbi Zvi Kamenetzky of Chicago, tried to contact a friend who was vacationing at Schechter’s Caribbean Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. After about 15 rings, the hotel operator, an elderly, southern black woman, who worked at the hotel for three decades politely informed my brother that the man was not in the room. “Would you like to leave a message?” she inquired.
“Sure,” responded Reb Zvi, “tell him that Rabbi Kamenetzky called.”
The woman at the other end gasped. “Raabbi Kaamenetzky?” she drawled. “Did you say you were Raabbi Kaamenetzky?” She knew the name! It sounded as if she was about to follow up with a weighty question, and my brother responded in kind. “Yes.” He did not know what would follow. “Why do you ask?”
“Are you,” asked the operator, “by any chance, related to the famous Rabbi Kamenetzky?”
There was silence in Chicago. My brother could not imagine that this woman had an inkling of who his grandfather, the great sage. Dean of Mesivta Torah Vadaas to whom thousands had flocked for advice and counsel, was. She continued. “You know, he passed away about ten years ago at the end the wintah?” She definitely had her man, thought Reb Zvi. Still in shock, he offered a subdued, “Yes, I’m a grandson.”
“YOOOU ARE?” she exclaimed. “Well, I’m sure glad to talk to ya! Cause your grandpa -- he was a real good friend of mine!”
My brother pulled the receiver from his ear and stared at the mouthpiece. He composed himself and slowly began to repeat her words, quizzically. “You say that Rabbi Kamenetzky was a good friend of yours?”
“Sure! Every mornin’ Raabbi Kaaamenetzky would come to this here hotel to teach some sorta Bible class (It was the Daf-Yomi.) Now my desk is about ten yards from the main entrance of the hotel. But every mornin’ he made sure to come my way, nod his head, and say good mornin’ to me. On his way out, he would always stop by my desk and say good-bye. Oh! Yes! He was a great Rabbi but he was even a greater man. He was a wonderful man. He was a real good friend of mine!”
[Reprinted with permission from]
Shabbos in Navi
Shmuel I Chapter 29

Recognizing HaShem’s Greatness on Shabbos

In this chapter we learn how the Philistine officers were angry at Achish their king for allowing Dovid and his men to go into battle with them. The officers convinced Achish to send Dovid away from the battle and Dovid and his men returned to the land of the Plishtim. It is amazing that when Achish had to give Dovid the bad news, he said (Shmuel I 29:6) chai HaShem ki yashar atah, as HaShem lives, you are an upright person. Further on it is said that Achish told Dovid (verse 9) yadatai ki tov atah bieinay kimalach Elokim, I know – for in my eyes you are as good as an angel of G-d. It is amazing that a gentile had such wonderful praises for HaShem and for Dovid. Throughout the week we are faced with many challenges and it is difficult to always be cognizant of HaShem’s Presence. Hashem, in His infinite goodness, bestowed upon us the Holy Shabbos, which is His precious gift that allows us to be come close to Him. If a gentile was able to discern the greatness of HaShem and of the righteous, we certainly can be cognizant of HaShem’s greatness and of the great love that HaShem has for us, His Chosen People.

Shabbos in Agadah

Shabbos is pure and cannot be tarnished

It is said (Shemos 31:13) ach es Shabsosai tishmoru, however, you must observe My Shabbos. Rashi writes (Bamidbar 31:22) that the word ach teaches us that before performing hagalah, ritual immersion, of golden vessels, one has to remove the chaludah, the tarnish that is found on the vessel. The Pinei Menachem quotes his father, the Imrei Emes, who cites the Sfas Emes (Ki Sisa 5631) who writes that Shabbos is clean and holy and no blemish can penetrate the Shabbos. Shabbos is a vehicle for repentance, and repentance can elevate a person to even a higher place than where the righteous stand.

Shabbos in Halacha

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

There are certain instances in which a container can be insulated in a heat-retaining material on Shabbos. [These exceptions only apply to fully cooked food. One is never permitted to insulate partially cooked food on Shabbos.] One example of this permit is that one can rewrap a pot of fully cooked food that was wrapped in a heat retaining material, i.e. a towel, prior to Shabbos and then became uncovered on Shabbos. Furthermore, one can unwrap the container on Shabbos to remove some food and re-insulate it. One is also allowed to add an extra layer of insulation i.e. another towel to a pot that was insulated prior to Shabbos.

Shabbos Challenge Question

Last week we posed the question: why do we recite in the blessing of Retzei in Bircas Hamazon that there should be no distress, grief, or lament on this day of contentment? Do we only desire that Shabbos should be free of strife and not the rest of the week? The Pinei Menachem answers that the Zohar states the source of all blessing during the weekday is from Shabbos, so it follows that if there is no distress, grief, or lament on Shabbos, then there will not be distress, grief, or lament during the week either.

This week’s question is, 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? 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 Yisro 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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