Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Tzav-Shabbos HaGadol 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת צו-שבת הגדול תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Tzav-Shabbos HaGadol 5769
Avraham and Pesach
This week is Shabbos HaGadol, literally translated as the Great Shabbos. What is the significance of this Shabbos? The Halacha teaches us that on the Shabbos prior to the Jewish People being redeemed from Egypt, HaShem instructed the Jewish People to take a sheep and tie it to their beds. Given the fact that the sheep was the deity of the Egyptians, the Egyptians were distressed to hear from the Jewish People that their deity would be slaughtered. Nonetheless, the Egyptians were powerless to confront the Jewish People, and this was cause for celebration. Thus, every year, on the Shabbos prior to Pesach, we celebrate this event by referring to the Shabbos as Shabbos HaGadol. Upon further contemplation, however, there appears to be a difficulty with this appellation. Referring to this Shabbos as Shabbos HaGadol is fine, but what significance does this Shabbos have with relation to Pesach? Is this commemoration merely a prelude to Pesach, or does this Shabbos have a significance in its own right?
Commemorating the redemption and all its facets
In order to answer this question, we must reflect on the history that culminated in the redemption of the Jewish People from the Egyptian slavery. HaShem made a pact with Avraham Avinu, known as the Bris bein HaBesarim, the Pact of the Parts. When HaShem informed Avraham that his descendants would inherit the Land of Canaan, Avraham questioned the promise and HaShem responded that the Jewish People would have to endure many years of slavery in an alien land. Nonetheless, along with this forewarning of suffering, HaShem promised Avraham that those who persecuted Avraham’s descendants would be duly punished and the Jewish People themselves would leave their master’s land with great wealth. Thus, in addition to commemorating the Egyptians slavery, we are also required to recall every facet of that redemption, which incorporates all the promises that HaShem made to Avraham. Avraham represents the Attribute of Kindness, referred to as Gedulah, greatness.
The Shabbos connection
What is the association between Avraham and Pesach? In addition to the fact that HaShem promised Avraham on Pesach that his descendants would be redeemed from Egypt, HaShem also informed Avraham on Pesach that he would have a son, Yitzchak, born to him on Pesach. It is evident that Avraham is intertwined with the redemption of the Jewish People from Egypt. Thus, it is appropriate that this Shabbos is referred to as Shabbos HaGadol, the Great Shabbos, as the fact that HaShem fulfilled all His promises to Avraham regarding His descendants is a testimony to HaShem’s greatness and kindness. We should merit that this year HaShem will demonstrate to us His kindness and redeem us from this long and bitter exile, and next year we will all be together with Moshiach Tzidkienu in Yerushalayim Habenuyah.
Shabbos Story
Just Let Me Know When You Are Done
Dr. Kook, a known doctor in Yerushalayim, told about an amazing encounter he had with the Gaon Rav Aharon Cohen, one of the Roshei Yeshivah of Chevron. Reb Aharon once had a deep wound in his shoulder which was not healing on its own, and Dr. Kook decided he needed to operate. However, Reb Aharon was a very weak man, virtually skin and bones, and Dr. Kook was in a dilemma about how to operate on him. He was afraid to put him under anesthesia due to his frailty, but if he wouldn’t put him to sleep, R’ Aharon would suffer terrible pains during the operations. Dr. Kook discussed the dilemma with R’ Aharon, and R’ Aharon immediately said. “There’s no need to use anesthesia. Just tell me when you begin to operate, and everything will be fine.”
Dr. Kook then accounted what occurred during the operation. “I informed R’ Aharon when I began the operation. After I had finished operating, R’ Aharon asked me if I had finished. Until today I can’t believe how a person could be capable of withstanding such pain without reacting at all. I asked him how R’ Aharon how he did it, and he said that he thought about words of Torah, and he was so immersed in his learning that he even had to ask if the operation was finished!” (Shaal Avicha Veygadcha)

Rav Naftali Trop Stays Up To Watch The Thief

A vagrant Jew had acquired a reputation as a thief, and was ostracized by society. However, when he came to Radin, he encountered Rav Naftali Tzvi Trop, the famed Rosh Yeshivah of the Chofetz Chaim's Yeshiva. Rav Trop greeted him warmly, invited him to eat by his table, and even offered him a bed to sleep for the night in his home. The Jews of Radin began murmuring with each other, wondering why R’ Trop was exerting himself for this unsavory character.
Someone worked up the courage to ask R’ Trop directly why he was treating this thief with such warmth. R’ Trop answered in surprise, “It’s known that a thief pays back double the value of what he stole, and if he can’t pay it back, he’s sold as a slave. But where is it written that I’m exempt from fulfilling the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim? Isn’t he a Jew? Didn’t Avraham Avinu fulfill the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim even with Arabs who worshipped the dust of their feet? It’s true that it’s risky to bring a suspected thief into my house, but I can watch over him carefully the whole time he’s in my home. However, I have no excuse to exempt myself from the mitzvah.”
The next day, the people in Radin heard that R’ Trop had done exactly what he had said. He had stayed awake the entire night to guard the thief while he slept in his home. (Sidras Tikun HaMidos) [Reprinted with permission from ]

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
Parashas Tzav-Shabbos HaGadol 5769
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, an hour before the Shabbos HaGadol Drasha (given by Rabbi Daniel Arm) at 5:55 PM.
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos and a Chag Kosher Visameach.
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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