Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Ki Sisa-Parah 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת כי תשא- פרה תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Ki Sisa-Parah 5769
Listening and doing even if we do not understand
This week’s parasha is Ki Sisa, and we also read Parashas Parah, where the Torah discusses the laws of one who became impure through corpse tumah is purified by having the ashes of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer, sprinkled on him. It is fascinating that according to Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan, the Parah Adumah was used as atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf. One must wonder why is it that if someone contracts corpse tumah, his purification is an atonement of the sin of the Golden Calf. Furthermore, it is difficult to understand how there can be a reason offered for the use of the Parah Adumah when the Torah explicitly states that Parah Adumah is a chok, which means that its reason is unknown to man.
Listening and then performing a mitzvah that is a chok
What does it mean that a mitzvah is a chok? The simple understanding is that one must perform the mitzvah and not seek to rationalize why he is performing the mitzvah. Thus, one is sprinkled with ashes of the Parah Adumah and he does not understand how ashes purify him from corpse tumah Alternatively, the chok aspect of the Parah Adumah is that it purifies one who is impure and defiles one who is pure. However, there is also a deeper understanding of a chok. One may not understand the reason for a chok, but he listens to the commandment and performs it anyway. Thus, a chok is not merely that one performs the mitzvah without understanding the rationale. Rather, even though there is no rationale, he can listen to the chok and then perform it. While there may be a very fine line between listening and performing, regarding the accepting of the Torah we find a vast difference between the two. The Zohar states that when the Jewish People sinned by worshipping the Golden Calf, they forfeited naaseh, we will do, but were told to retain nishmah, we will hear. If one will not do, what is the benefit of hearing?
Parah Adumah rectifies the nishmah
The Pinei Menachem writes that the Zohar states that when the Jewish People sinned by worshipping the Golden Calf, they defiled their ears to the point that they were incapable of hearing words of Torah. This, asks the Pinei Menachem, is difficult to understand, as the Zohar itself states that they had still retained the listening aspect even after the sin? The Pinei Menachem answers this question by saying that although the Jewish People retained the aspect of listening, even this was tainted, and through the mitzvah of Parah, which serves as an atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, they can rectify the nishmah aspect like it was prior to the sin.
Listening rectifies the sin of the Golden Calf
We can suggest that this is the meaning of why when one is sprinkled with the ashes of the Parah Adumah, it serves as atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf. One who listens to the mitzvah of Parah Adumah and subsequently performs its ritual is demonstrating that he has rectified the hearing that was tainted with the sin of the Golden Calf. We can now understand why Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan offers a reason for the performance of the Parah Adumah, despite the fact that the Medrash states that its performance is a chok. The explanation for this is because the rectification of the sin of the Golden Calf is through listening, and when one listens and performs the mitzvah of Parah Adumah, he has rectified the sin of the Golden Calf.
The Shabbos Connection
The Zohar states that on Shabbos, Moshe Rabbeinu returns the two crowns of naaseh, we will do, and nishmah, we will listen, to the Jewish People. Thus, we can suggest that on Shabbos, not only do we gain back the nishmah, which is the aspect of listening, but we even earn the naaseh, the aspect of “we will do.” In a sense, Shabbos is even higher than Parah Adumah, as Parah Adumah rectifies the nishmah, and on Shabbos both the naaseh and nishmah are rectified. Hashem should allow us to listen to His commandments and perform them, and in the merit of our listening and performance, we should witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days, with the cessation of death and the Resurrection of the Dead.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Mah Yedidus
Composed by an unknown author named Menachem
Fowl, quail and fish on Shabbos
Lihisaneig bisaanugim barburim uselav vidagim, to indulge in delights fatted fowl, quail and fish. It is noteworthy that the first letters of the words taanugim, barburim, and slav spell out the word Shabbos, as these foods are the essence of the physical delights that we indulge in on Shabbos.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Unity in praising HaShem
Vihaofanim vichayos hakodesh biraash gadol misnasim liumas seraphim liumasam mishabichim viomrim, then the Ofanim and the holy Chayos, with great noise raise themselves towards the Seraphim. Facing them they give praise saying. Here we see how the various angels raise themselves up towards each other and unify in their praise of HaShem. We should also realize that no matter what our background is, all Jews are unified in their praise of HaShem.

Shabbos Story
Parshas Vayechi: Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin Curses The Hospital
The famous Maggid of Yerushalayim Rav Bentzion Yadler retold the story of a group of Askanim who came to Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin to tell him that they purchased a plot of land to build a hospital outside of the old city of Yerushalayim near Shaar Shechem. Rav Yehoshua Leib said to them, “Yehi Ratzon Shelo Tishreh Shechinah Aleha,” it should be Hashem’s will that the Shechinah will not reside there. The group was baffled. Why would Rav Yehoshua Leib curse their holy venture?Then they realized the slyly disguised bracha in Rav Yehoshua Leib’s words. The passuk says (Vayechi 47:31) that after Yosef swore to bury Yaakov in Eretz Yisroel, Yaakov turned to the head of the bed and bowed. Rashi explains that from here the Gemara (Shabbos 12b) learns that the Shechinah rests above the head of a sick person's bed. Rav Yehoshua Leib gave them a bracha that their hospital should not have many sick people in it and all of Am Yisroel should be blessed with good health! (Gilyon Pninim Al HaParsha)
Rav Zemele Volozhin Follows The Doctors Orders
Rav Zemele Volozhin the beloved talmid of the Vilna Gaon and the brother of Rav Chaim Volozhin once went with another Rov to the house of a very poor person. The host was in middle of eating and begged them to sit down and join him. Rav Zemele knew that the host did not have enough food for them so he refused claiming the doctor told him he cannot eat.
When they left the Rov that accompanied him, asked him if it is true that he is sick. He said no he is not. “Then how could you lie? What happened to Midvar Sheker Tirchok?”He answered that the great doctor, the Rambam wrote that it is assur to eat from a meal where there is not enough food for the host. He indeed was just following the doctor’s orders. [Reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos in Navi
Shmuel II Chapter 2

On Shabbos we put aside our differences and show each other love

In this chapter we learn how Dovid was declared ruler over the people of Yehudah while Avner ben Ner made Ish Boshes, son of Shaul, the ruler over Yisroel. Avner and Yoav staged a dual between their men and many of the men died as the fighting got out offhand and culminated in tragedy. Asahel the son of Tzeruyah then chased after Avner and Avner killed Asahel. It is always troubling to read in Tanach how Jews killed each other. While it is difficult to understand how great leaders of the Jewish People reflected hatred towards each other, to the point of allowing their hatred to lead to bloodshed, we must remember that Shabbos is a day of peace. Thus, we should strive to sanctify this Holy Day and allow it to be free of strife and we should only show love towards our fellow Jews.

Shabbos in Agadah

Shabbos elevates everything to a higher place

The Pinei Menachem wriets that on Shabbso every Jew has his place, as it is said (Shemos 16:29) al yeiztei ish mimkomo bayom hashevii, let no man leave his place on the seventh day. Shabbos, writes the Pinei Menachem, elevates everything to a higher place. Following the sin of the Golden Calf, it is said (Ibid 33:14) panai yeileichu vahnichosi lach, He said, “My Presence will go and provide you rest.” This rest alludes to Shabbos.

Shabbos in Halacha

Insulating with an item that increases heat

There are materials that can increase the heat of the item that they enclose. These materials, which include salt, peat, lime, sand, wet cotton, grass or straw, are referred to as davar hamosif hevel, items that increase heat. Without exception, one is prohibited to insulate any container, even a kli sheini, in such a material, and this is prohibited even Erev Shabbos

Shabbos Challenge Question

Last week we posed the question: why do we ask HaShem to forgive our sins specifically on Motzai Shabbos? The Pinei Menachem writes that the Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that one who observes Shabbos properly is granted atonement for all of his sins. On Shabbos we do not recite Viduy, confession, so for this reason we substitute our confession with our request for atonement on Motzai Shabbos.

This week’s question is: why do we mention in the first Perk of Kabbalas Shabbos that the Jewish People are an errant-hearted people that do not know HaShem’s ways? 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 Ki Sisa-Parah 5769
Is sponsored in memory of the Heilege Gerrer Rebbe, the Pinei Menachem, HaRav HaGaon HaTzaddik Pinchas Menachem Alter, zechuso yagein aleinu vial kol Yisroel litovah, alah bisarah hashamaymah, 16 Adar 5756.
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, an hour before Minchah.
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos and a Freilechen Purim.
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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