Friday, May 1, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Acharei –Mos-Kedoshim 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת אחרי מות-קדושים תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Acharei –Mos-Kedoshim 5769
Honoring ones parents and Shabbos
In this week’s parasha, Kedoshim, it is said (Vayikra 19:3) ish imo viaviv tirau vies Shabsosai tishmoru ani HaShem Elokeichem, every man: your mother and father shall you revere and My Shabbosos shall you observe – I am HaShem, your G-d. Why is the mitzvah of observing Shabbos juxtaposed to the mitzvah of fearing ones parents? Rashi cites the Medrash that states that the Torah is teaching us that although one is required to fear his parents, if a parent instructs a child to violate the Shabbos, the child is prohibited from listening to the parent. The obvious question on this interpretation is, why did the Torah choose too juxtapose specifically the commandment of fearing ones parents next to the mitzvah of observing the Shabbos?
The reason why we honor our parents
In order to answer this question, it is important to gain an insight into the mitzvah of fearing ones parents. The Ramban (Shemos 20:12) writes that the reason why the Torah placed the mitzvah of honoring ones parents in the Ten Commandmenst to teach us that just as there is a mitzvah to acknowledge HaShem as our G-d and not to claim anything else as our creator, so too we are instructed to honor our parents and not to serve them for selfish motives. The Baal HaTurim (Ibid) writes that the Torah juxtaposes the mitzvah of honoring ones parents to the mitzvah of observing Shabbos, to teach us that just as one is required to honor the Shabbos, so too one is required to honor ones parents. Let us understand what the connection is between honoring the Shabbos and honoring ones parents.
The reward for honoring ones parents is primarily in the World to Come
The Gemara (Kiddushin 39b) states that the reward for observing the mitzvah of honoring ones parents is that one earns a portion in the World to Come. One must wonder why the Torah specifies that the reward for this mitzvah is in the world to Come. Is not the reward for all mitzvos in the World to Come? What is unique about the mitzvah of honoring ones parents? Perhaps the explanation for this is that regarding other mitzvos, one also benefits in this world. An example of this would be the mitzvah of loving another Jew. When one loves a fellow Jew, he is creating bonds of friendship, and he can also benefit from this relationship. When one honors his parents, however, he may be benefiting by having his parents treat him nicer. Nonetheless, it requires great effort to honor a parents’ wishes, and many times a parent instruct a child to perform an act that is contrary to the desires of the child. It is for this reason that the Torah specifies that the reward for honoring ones parents is primarily in the World to Come, when he will be able to discern the benefits of having performed this mitzvah. In a similar vein, Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. The reason for this is because there is a great effort involved in preparing for Shabbos, and as the Gemara (Avodah Zara 3a) states, one who prepares on Erev Shabbos will eat on Shabbos. Thus, we see a direct connection between the mitzvah of honoring and fearing ones parents and the mitzvah of observing Shabbos
The Shabbos connection
Throughout the week we are faced with forces and desires that are the antithesis of holiness and purity. We struggle each week to desist these forces and at times we may despair, thinking that we cannot be victorious in our struggle. Yet, HaShem has prepared the antidote before the blow, and in His infinite mercy, he has bestowed us with the special gift of Shabbos. Hashem offers us the Shabbos as a taste of the World to Come, when there will no longer be a struggle with our Evil Inclination, and we will all bask in His Presence, for eternity.
Shabbos Stories
Rav Chaim’s Request For Forgiveness
Rabbi Yissachar Frand writes Acharei Mos is the parasha of the Yom Kippur service. The passuk says, “For on this day, He shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you, from all your sins before HaShem shall you be cleansed” [Vayikra 16:30]. Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria (in the last Mishneh of tractate Yoma [8:9]) derives the following lesson from that passuk: Sins between man and G-d Yom Kippur atones for, however Yom Kippur does not atone for sins against one's fellow man, until he first appeases his fellow man.
The Gemara [Yoma 87a] states in the name of Rav Yitzchak: “Whoever angers his friend needs to appease him.” Rav Yitzchak cites as a proof a series of pessukim in Mishlei [6:1-3]: “My son, if you have been a guarantor for your friend, if you have given your handshake for a stranger, you have been trapped by the words of your mouth, snared by the words of your mouth, do this, therefore, my child and be rescued; for you have come into your fellow's hand. Go humble yourself before him and placate your fellow.”
At first glance, this teaching of the Amora Rav Yitzchak seems very strange. Why do we need his exegesis from the pessukim in Mishlei to teach us the fact that one needs to appease his friend, if we have an explicit passuk from Chumash -– cited by the Tanna Rav Elazar ben Azaria -- that teaches us the same thing?
Rav Chaim Soleveitchik explained the novelty of Rav Yitzchak’s teaching to his son, Rav Moshe Soleveitchik, in the course of an incident that happened in Brisk. A certain butcher came to the Beis Din of Rav Chaim Soleveitchik (Rav of Brisk) and Rav Simcha Zelig (Dayan of Brisk) asking them to adjudicate a din Torah involving a sum of 3,000 rubles. Rav Chaim suggested they make a compromise (peshara), but the butcher refused. The Beis Din then heard the case and decided against the butcher. The butcher reacted angrily to this, and started yelling at Rav Chaim, calling him a thief and a murderer.
Rav Chaim answered back: “When you came to this court, I suggested that you compromise with your disputant, but you refused. Since it was you who refused the compromise, it is not my fault that you have now lost 3,000 rubles. It is your own fault.” The butcher yelled even louder at Rav Chaim. Rav Chaim then said, “You disrespectful one, get out of here!”
On Erev Yom Kippur, Rav Chaim told his 3 sons that he must go to the butcher and ask for his forgiveness for the harsh words they exchanged that day in court. The Rav of Brisk accompanied by his 3 sons went to the shul where the butcher davened. Everyone was davening with their tallesim over their heads so it was impossible to tell who was who. Rav Chaim went around from person to person until he finally found the butcher. Rav Chaim then said, “I want to ask your forgiveness for calling you disrespectful and sending you out of my court.” The butcher turned to Rav Chaim -– right before Kol Nidrei -- and said, “I do not forgive you. You are a thief and a murderer!”
Rav Chaim responded: “The halacha is that I must ask you three times in front of three people for forgiveness. I have brought my three sons here with me. Will you forgive me?” Again the response was “No!” The exchange was repeated three times and then Rav Chaim said, “I have discharged my duty and am ready to leave.” Before leaving he turned once more to the butcher and said, “You should know that at this point I am no longer obligated to ask for your forgiveness. In fact, you were the one who insulted me in the first place, and I had a right to respond in kind to your insolence. The only reason I came to appease you is because it is meritorious to overlook one’s honor and accept embarrassment rather than cause embarrassment to others. I was not obligated to ask your forgiveness, but I did it anyway, three times in front of three people. I am leaving. Now it is your problem!”
When they left the synagogue, Rav Moshe Soleveitchik asked his father why he went in the first place, when he never did anything wrong and it was the butcher who should have been asking for forgiveness all along.
Rav Chaim explained to his son that this was in fact the novelty in the ruling of Rav Yitzchak in Yoma. The passuk in Acharei Mos cited by Rav Elazar ben Azaria in the Mishneh teaches that if one WRONGS his fellow man, he must ask forgiveness. The pessukim in Mishlei expounded by Rav Yitzchak teach that if one angers his fellow man – even justifiably so – he still needs to try to make peace and ask for forgiveness.
This was not the type of “mechilah request” which would have held back the effectiveness of Rav Chaim's Teshuvah vis a vis sins between man and G-d. Those are only for sins where you in fact harmed someone or insulted him inappropriately. Rav Yitzchak is saying a stronger teaching: Even when I am 100% right, if I utter harsh words against my fellow man, it is still appropriate for me to beg forgiveness and attempt to restore friendship between us.
This, Rav Chaim, said is the meaning of the Shulchan Aruch when it states that on Erev Yom Kippur, every person needs to ask for forgiveness from his fellow man. This halacha is difficult –- if I wronged someone, why should I wait until Erev Yom Kippur to make amends? The answer is that this law is not speaking about a case where I've wronged someone. Nevertheless, on Erev Yom Kippur there is a special obligation to make peace even when, strictly speaking, no amends are called for.
[Reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
Parashas Acharei –Mos-Kedoshim 5769
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, an hour before Mincha
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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