Friday, March 20, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Vayakhel-Pekudei-HaChodesh 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת ויקהל-פקודי-החדש תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Vayakhel-Pekudei-HaChodesh 5769
Returning to the level of Divine Presence of the Patriarchs on our tents
This week’s parashah discusses the actual construction of the Mishkan and we also read Parashas HaChodesh, which discusses the Exodus from Egypt. The Ramban writes in his introduction to the Book of Shemos that this Book is called Sefer HaGeulah, the Book of Redemption, because of the Exodus from Egypt. Furthermore, the Jewish People received the Torah and then built the Mishkan, which allowed them to return to the level of the Divine Presence that rested on the tents of their forefathers. What is the meaning of returning to the level of the Divine Presence that rested on the tents of the forefathers?
The Jewish People had a few merits which would allow them to be redeemed from Egypt
One of the most intriguing aspects of the redemption from Egypt and of receiving the Torah was that the Jewish People were not prepared for either of these events. The Arizal writes that had the Jewish People descended to the forty-ninth level of impurity, and had HaShem not delivered the Jewish People at the last moment, they would never have ascended from the depths of impurity. This idea is difficult to understand, as this implies that the Jewish People themselves did not have sufficient merits with which to leave Egypt. Yet, we know that when Moshe asked HaShem in what merit the Jewish People would leave Egypt, HaShem told Moshe that in the merit of receiving the Torah, the Jewish People would leave Egypt. Furthermore, the Medrash (see Bamidbar Rabbah 13:19) states that in the merit of not changing their names, language and clothing, the Jewish People left Egypt. Additionally, the Gemara (Sota 11b) states that in the merit of the righteous women the Jewish People left Egypt. This being the case, how is it possible that the Jewish people almost reached a point of no return and HaShem had to redeem them from Egypt with apparently no merits in their favor?
One must view himself as if he himself was redeemed from Egypt
In order to understand what it means that the Jewish People had almost reached the point of no return, we have to understand another statement that we recite in the Hagadah Shel Pesach. On Pesach night we recite the words that in every generation one must view himself as if he himself had just exited from Egypt. How can one view himself as if he had left Egypt if he never was exiled to Egypt? While we know that our souls were all present at the receiving of the Torah, and it follows that all our souls were in Egypt, we must also understand this recital in a practical sense. Is it possible for a person to experience having left Egypt when he does not feel like he was there in the first place?
Only HaShem can assist a person in overcoming the blandishments of his Evil Inclination
The answer to these questions is that it is well known that the Zohar compares the Egyptian exile to the power that the Evil Inclination has over a person. The Sefarim write that the word Mitzrayim, Egypt, is an acrostic for the words meitzar yam, the border of the Sea. In a deeper sense, however, this means that the Jewish People were surrounded by the sea of impurity which is the fiftieth level of contamination. Thus, besides the physical exile that the Jewish People were forced to endure in Egypt, they were also subject to the blandishments of the Evil Inclination. The same is true for us in our lives. While we may not always be cognitive of this, the fact is that the Evil Inclination is a constant presence in our lives, and it seeks to wreak havoc on our spiritual equilibrium. The Gemara (Kiddushin 30a) states that if not for the fact that HaShem aids a person in his struggles against the Evil Inclination, a person would not be able to overcome the enticement of the Evil Inclination alone. Thus, despite the many merits one may have, it is insufficient in his struggles with the Evil Inclination. Only Hashem can allow a person to be victorious over his Evil Inclination.
The merits of the Jewish People were insufficient for them to be redeemed from Egypt and the clutches of the Evil Inclination
We can now understand why, despite having the merit of certain virtues and the merit of the righteous women, the Jewish People were in need of something that would catapult them out of the clutches of the Evil Inclination. This extra push, so to speak, was the deliverance that HaShem provided for them. This idea also helps us gain a better perspective of what we should be feeling when we contemplate the Egyptian exile and the redemption. We are constantly struggling with the Evil Inclination and it is only HaShem’s compassion that enables us to overcome this struggle.
The Shabbos Connection
The Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 19:1) states regarding the mitzvah of Parah Adumah that it said (Iyov 14:4) mi yitein tahor mitamei lo echod, who can produce purity from impurity? No one! This is akin to Avraham who came from Terach, Chizkiahu from Achaz, Yoshiyahu from Amon, Mordechai from Shimi, the Jewish People from the gentiles, and the World to Come from this world. The Sfas Emes (Parah 5647) writes that HaShem made it that one attains purity by being tested and forged in the crucible of this world. It was for this reason that the Jewish People had to endure the Egyptian exile and they were submerged in the forty-ninth level of impurity, until they merited being redeemed and becoming pure. This idea is manifest in the Jewish People residing amongst the gentiles, and in the Jewish people sojourning in this world in order to attain their share in the World to Come. Similarly, writes the Sfas Emes, every Shabbos is a commemoration to the exodus from Egypt, and every week we merit being redeemed from the gates of impurity and ascending towards the gates of purity. Based on the words of the Sfas Emes, we can now better understand why building the Mishkan was the culmination of the redemption process. Our Patriarchs lived a life of complete purity, and despite their encounters with foreign ideas and people who were the antithesis of their beliefs, they remained pure at all times. After enduring the Egyptian exile, the Jewish People received the Torah, which is the epitome of priority in this world. To attain that purity HaShem instructed them to build a Mishkan, which would allow them to receive the Divine Presence. Every week, with the arrival of Shabbos, we are returning to that level of Divine Presence upon our tents, as we light candles, eat challah, and bask in the Divine Presence, which are all reminiscent of the level of purity and holiness that our Patriarchs attained. HaShem should allow us to enter the upcoming month of Nissan with great joy and purity, and we should witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Mah Yedidus
Composed by an unknown author named Menachem
Shabbos food is unique in fragrance and taste
Meierev mazminim kol minei matamim, from Shabbos Eve they prepare all manner of delicacies. Regarding the manna in the Wilderness it is said (Shemos 16:5) vihayah bayom hashishi viheichinu eis asher yaviu vihayah mishneh al asher yilkitu yom yom, and it shall be that on the sixth day when they prepare what they will bring, it will be double what they pick every day. Rashi (Ibid verse 22) cites the Medrash that states that the word mishneh, literally translated as double, can also mean that the manna was mishunah lishvach bireicho vitaamo, unique for praise in its fragrance and taste. Thus, we can interpret the passage here to mean that on Shabbos Eve, we prepare all the delicacies, which we know will be unique for praise in their fragrance and in their taste.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Unity in praising HaShem
Baruch kevod HaShem mimekomo, blessed is the glory of HaShem from His place. In the Kedusha that we recite in Shabbos Mussaf, we recite the words ayei mekom kevodo, where is the place of His glory? If the angels themselves ask regarding the location of HaShem’s glory, how is it that we can recite the words “blessed is the glory of HaShem from His place?” Perhaps the answer to this question is contained in an understanding of the word makom that is used throughout Scripture. When HaShem instructed Avraham to bring his son Yitzchak as an offering, it is said (Bereishis 22:4) bayom hashlishi vayisa Avraham es einav vayar es hamakom meirachok, on the third day, Avraham raised his eyes and perceived the place from afar. Rashi writes that Avraham was able to perceive “the place” because he saw a cloud hovering above the mountains, whereas his two attendants were not able to perceive the cloud. We find further that it is said (Devarim 17:8) ki yipalei mimcho davar lamishpat bein dam lidam uvein din lidin uvein nega lanega divrei rivos bishorecha vikamta vialisa el hamakom asher yivchar HaShem Elokecha bo, if a matter of judgment is hidden from you, between blood and blood, between verdict and verdict, between plague and plague, matters of dispute in your cities – you shall rise up and ascend to the place that HaShem, your G-d, shall choose. In this instance too we see that when a meter is hidden from a person, he must ascend to “the place.” The “place” implies a sense of clarity and perception. Thus, we pose the query, “where is the place of His glory?” and we also declare, “blessed is the glory of HaShem from His place,” as this declaration demonstrates that we are attempting to ascend spiritually and to perceive more of HaShem’s Presence in our lives.

Shabbos Story
Not the way you want it to happen
A poor man once came to the renowned tzaddik, the Strikover Rebbe, who had a reputation for performing the most wondrous and amazing miracles. The man’s daughter had already been engaged twice, but when her father had been unable to provide the agreed- upon nadon (dowry), the engagements had been broken. Now she had become engaged once again, and her father desperately wanted this marriage to go through.
The Rebbe told him to go home, and buy a lottery ticket - the Ribbono Shel Olam would surely help him. The poor man optimistically returned home, and bought a ticket, but the ticket did not win. Although the father somehow managed to keep the shidduch (engagement) afloat and marry his daughter off, the Strikover Rebbe was so shaken by his “failure” the he refused to accept any more petitioners for his blessings. A Rebbe’s power, he argued, is derived from the dictum of Chazal, our Sages (see Taanis 23a) that Hashem fulfills the will of a tzaddik. Obviously, he was not a tzaddik!
Soon afterwards, Reb Simcha Bunim of Pshischa came to Strikov to visit the Rebbe. He was disturbed that the Rebbe had ceased accepting the hundreds of petitioners who desperately sought his blessings over the apparent failure of one blessing.
“Strikover Rebbe,” said Reb Simcha Bunim, “tell me: How does one reconcile that which we are taught, ‘Hashem fulfils the will of a tzaddik’ with the passuk in Iyov (Job 9:12), ‘Who can tell Him what to do!?’ The explanation, however, is as follows: Hashem will fulfill the Tzaddik’s will. But even the tzaddik has no right to dictate how Hashem will do it. Your beracha (blessing) was fulfilled. The marriage went off as planned - just not the way you thought it would happen!” The Rebbe saw the wisdom in his words, and resumed accepting Chassidim.

Shabbos in Navi
Shmuel II Chapter 3

HaShem give us Shabbos to overcome the Evil Inclination

In this chapter we learn how Ish Boshes accused Avner ben Ner of sinning with the concubine of Shaul, so Avner defected to the camp of Dovid. Avner made a treaty with Dovid, pledging allegiance to Dovid. When Avner left Dovid, Yoav came to Dovid and informed Dovid that Avner was merely seeking to entice Dovid and to learn about his comings and goings. Yoav then tricked Avner and killed him as revenge for Avner having killed Asahel, the brother of Yoav. Dovid heard about this murder and cursed Yoav, and Dovid then eulogized Avner. Dovid did not wish to punish Yoav at that point, because he claimed that the sons of Tzeruyah were more powerful than him. We mentioned above that the Gemar (Kiddushin 30a) states that the Evil Inclination is very powerful, and without HaShem’s help, one would not be able to overcome the blandishments of the Evil Inclination. The incident where Yoav killed Avner and Dovid not retaliate reflects this idea. Although Yoav was certainly a great man, Dovid had the right to kill him because he was the king. Nonetheless, Dovid felt powerless at that time to punish Yoav with death. Similarly, throughout the week we may feel an urge to subdue once and for all the forces of evil, but it can prove difficult, if not impossible. Thus, we wait for the arrival of the Holy Shabbos, when all harsh judgments depart, and HaShem and His Heavenly entourage, so to speak, subdue all the forces of evil.

Shabbos in Agadah

Hashem gives the Jewish People the souls of the righteous for Shabbos

It is said (Shemos 16:29) riu ki HaShem nasan lachem haShabbos al kein hu nosein lachem bayom hashishi lechem yomayim, see that HaShem has given you the Shabbos; that is why He gives you on the sixth day a two-day portion of bread. The Tiferes Shlomo (Ibid) interprets this verse homiletically to mean that Shabbos alludes to the soul of the Tzaddik, and the Gemara (Shabbos 10a) states that HaShem declares, “I have a precious gift in My treasure house and it is called Shabbos.” Yosef symbolizes Tosefes Shabbos and Moshe symbols the Shabbos. Thus, Moshe was telling the Jewish People that HaShem has given you a precious gift, which is the soul of the tzaddik, and this is referred to as Shabbos. Therefore HaShem is giving you on the sixth day a two-day portion of bread, which is reflected in Yosef, as the word lechem, bread, when multiplied by two, equals in gematria the name Tosefes. It is the idea of Yosef that HaShem is giving you as preparation for Shabbos.

Shabbos in Halacha

Insulating a pot on the blech

Although nowadays it is not common to store food in materials such as salt, peat, lime, sand, wet cotton, grass or straw, there are several common application regarding this prohibition. A pot that one wrapped in a towel and left on the blech or hot plate is deemed to be insulated in a heat-intensifying material as the towel combines with the heat below to allow the temperature of the pot to rise. Thus, one is prohibited from wrapping completely a pot left on the blech or hot plate, even if this was done on Erev Shabbos.

Shabbos Challenge Question

Last week we posed the question: why do we mention in the first Perek of Kabbalas Shabbos that the Jewish People are an errant-hearted people that do not know HaShem’s ways? The Pinei Menachem writes that one must prepare for Shabbos. To attain true spiritual perceptions on Shabbos, one must have good character. On Shabbos one can attain the levels of nefesh, ruach, and neshamah. It is for this reason that prior to Shabbos we recite the chapter in Tehillim (107:4) where it is said tau vamidbar bishimon darech, they wandered in the wilderness, in the desolation of the path. Furthermore, we recite the words (Ibid 95:10) arbaim shanah akut bidor vaomar am toei levav heim viheim lo yadu derachai, for forty years I was angry with the generation; then I said, “An errant-hearted people are they, and they know not My ways.” It is said (Mishlei 21:2) kol derech ish yashar bieinav visochein libos HaShem, a man’s every way is upright in his eyes; but HaShem resides inside his heart. Shabbos is a propitious time for one to straighten the paths, and to arrive at a state where his mind is at ease and he is accountable for his actions.

This week’s question is: The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:8) states that Shabbos complained to HaShem that every day has a mate and only Shabbos does not have a mate. Hashem responded that the Jewish People will be your mate. The question is, why did Shabbos not have a mate? Shabbos could have been the mate of the sixth day, similar to the fact that the fifth day was deemed to be the mate of the sixth day. 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 Vayakhel-Pekudei-HaChodesh 5769
Is sponsored by Mrs. Eileen Borsand in memory of
Chaim Lazar ben Meir HaKohen ob”m.
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 Gut Chodesh.
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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