Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Yisro 5770

שבת טעם החיים יתרו תש"ע
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Yisro 5770

The Ten Commandments, Shabbos and Torah

Introduction
זכור את יום השבת לקדשו, remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it (Shemos 20:8)
In this weeks parasha the Torah records the giving of the Torah, or more specifically, the Ten Commandments. The Gemara (Shabbos 86b) states that all opinions concur that the Torah was given on Shabbos. What significance is there in this statement? Does it make a difference to us today when the Torah was given? Had the Torah been given on the fourth day of the week, would we be lacking something? Let us understand the association of the Torah, the Ten Commandments and Shabbos.
The Torah expounds on Shabbos in the Ten Commandments
When we examine the wording of the Ten Commandments, we will notice that the Torah is brief regarding most of the commandments. The only commandment that the Torah elaborates on is the commandments to remember the Shabbos. What is it about Shabbos that necessitated a lengthy instruction?
Shabbos was not erased from the Luchos
The Pinei Menachem writes that although Moshe broke the Luchos upon witnessing the Jewish People worshipping the Golden Calf, Shabbos was not erased from the Luchos. It is noteworthy that in the Shacharis prayer of Shabbos, we recite the words yismach Moshe bematnas chelko ki eved neeman karasa lo kelil tiferes birosho nasata lo biamado lefeonecho al har Sinai ushnei luchos avanim horid beyado vichasuv bahem shemiras Shabbos vichein kasuv bisorasecho, Moshe rejoiced in the gift of his portion: that You called him a faithful servant. A crown of splendor You placed on his head when he stood before You on Mount Sinai. He brought down two stone tablets in his hand, on which is inscribed the observance of the Shabbos. So it is written in Your Torah… The simple meaning of this passage is that Moshe brought down the two tablets on which was inscribed the commandments of observing the Shabbos. On a deeper level, however, we can suggest that this passage alludes to the idea that after Moshe brought down the two tablets, although he subsequently broke them, the words of Shabbos remained forever.

Shabbos and Torah are eternal

Now that we have learned that the words of Shabbos that were inscribed on the tablets remained, we can better understand the statement of the Gemara that all agree that the Torah was given on Shabbos. The Gemara is teaching us that similar to Torah which is eternal, Shabbos by itself is also eternal. While Shabbos is a part of the Torah, it contains its own element of holiness and transcends this world. This is also the explanation for the words that we recite in Birkas HaMazon on Shabbos: may He cause us to inherit the day which will be completely a Shabbos and rest day of eternal life. Shabbos is not merely a day off from the rest of the week. Rather, Shabbos and Torah are unique that they both transcend time and matter.
The Shabbos connection
It is brought in Halacha that one should study novel topics of Torah on Shabbos. This ruling is in line with the idea that we mentioned that all agree that the Torah was given on Shabbos. Shabbos is a day of Torah, and HaShem should allow us to study new topics, introduce new insights in Torah to our families and friends, and merit a holy and peaceful Shabbos.
Shabbos Stories
Baron Rothschild Teaches the Ksav Sofer Peshat in Bikur Cholim
The famous Baron Reb Shimon Wolf Rothschild was a close friend of the Ksav Sofer. When they would spend time in the same spa-town, Baron Rothschild would come to visit the Ksav Sofer every day, to hear Torah from his mouth.
One day Baron Rothschild stayed only briefly and then suddenly got up to leave. The Ksav Sofer asked him why he is cutting his visit so short. He answered that he noticed that the Ksav Sofer was not feeling well. The Gemara in Bava Metzia (30b) says that we learn the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim from a passuk in Yisro (18:20), “ViHodatem Es Haderech Yeilchu Ba,” you should show them to go in the way of the Torah. Chazal say, “'Yeilchu - Zeh Bikur Cholim.” The Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim is learned from the word Yeilchu.

Baron Rothschild continued and said that the message we can learn from this Drasha is that Bikur Cholim does not always necessitate a long visit with the sick person. Sometimes the greatest mitzvah of Bikur Cholim is “Yeilchu” to know when to go. By going you may be doing the Choleh a far bigger favor than by staying.
The Chasam Sofer frequently repeated these words in the name of the Baron. (Shnayim Mikra) (www.Revach.net)

Lessons Learned When Attending to Gedolim

After R’ Reuven Grozovsky, Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Medrash Elyon, had a stroke he was left paralyzed on the right side of his body. The bochurim in the Yeshiva had a rotation to help the Rosh Yeshiva wash negel vasser, hold his siddur and wrap the Rosh Yeshiva’s Tefillin around his arm and head. To make the task an even greater challenge, the Rosh Yeshiva’s left hand would occasionally shake uncontrollably.

On one particular occasion, a new bachur was assigned the task of helping R’ Reuven, and the bachur was very nervous. He had never really spoken with the Rosh Yeshiva before. When he heard R’ Reuven wake up, the nervous young man quickly walked over to help the Rosh Yeshiva wash negel vasser. Unfortunately, R’ Reuven’s hand suddenly shook and the water missed the Rosh Yeshiva’s hand entirely. The embarrassed bachur tried a second time, but this time he was so nervous that he ended up pouring the water all over the Rosh Yeshiva’s bed and clothing. The bachur now wanted to run, but R’ Reuven was relying upon him. The third time he carefully poured the water over R Grozovsky’s hands, held the siddur while R’ Reuven said birchos hashachar and helped put Tefillin on the Rosh Yeshiva. As the bachur was ready to leave, R’ Reuven called him over and chatted with him for a few moments. The bachur left a few minutes later much calmer than before after this pleasant conversation with the Rosh Yeshiva.

When the bachur retold the story to his friends in the Bais Midrash they couldn’t believe it. As far as anyone knew no one could ever remember the Rosh Yeshiva speaking while he was wearing Tefillin. It became clear to everyone that R’ Reuven had made an exception to the rule in order to be able to put the mind of this young bachur at ease.

Honoring the Opinion of Rabbi Yehudah

The year was 1970. The Admu”r from Sanz was traveling to Meiron, and on the way he and his entourage paused to daven Mincha. The Rebbe suddenly instructed that the group stop at the grave of the Tanna, Rabbi Yehudah bar Ilaei (Rabbi Yehudah in the Mishnah), to daven minchah. Although the site of the monument on his grave was along the road to Meiron, it was surprising that the Sanzer Rebbe be so determined that this be the spot where the group daven that day.

The Rosh HaYeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu Shmerkler, who was accompanying them on that excursion, noticed the curiosity of those assembled, and he explained. “Fifteen years ago (1955) was the year the Rebbe first visited Eretz Yisroel. As we arrived in the north to spend Shabbos in Tzefas, we passed this spot, and we stopped to daven minchah here, at the grave of Rabbi Yehudah. As we were about to leave, the Rebbe turned to those around him and anguished, ‘Oy vey! What have we done! Rabbi Yehudah is the one who rules that one may only daven minchah until plag minchah, and we just convened a minyan to daven after plag minchah!’
The Rebbe never forgot that oversight, and he often told me to remind him that when we come this way again, we should amend for our insensitivity. This is why we made a special effort to arrive here, and to daven minchah before plag.” (Daf Digest)
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Yisro 5770
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Bais Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, half an hour before Mincha.
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos.
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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