Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shabbos: Ta'am HaChaim Ki Seitzei 5767

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Ki Seitzei 5767

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this week’s parashah the Torah instructs us regarding the nations of Ammon and Moav. It is said (Devarim 23:4-7) lo yavo Amoni uMoavi bikehal HaShem gam dor asiri lo yavo lahem bikehal HaShem ad olam. Al devar asher lo kidmu eschem balechem uvamayim baderech bitzeischem mimitzrayim vaasher sachar alecho es Balaam ben Beor miPesor Aram Naharayim lekalileko. Velo avah HaShem elokecha lishmoa el Balaam vayahafoch HaShem Elokecha lecho es hakelalah livrachah ki aheivechah HaShem Elokecha. Lo sidrosh shelomam vitovasam kol yamecha liolam. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of HaShem, even their tenth generation shall not enter the congregation of HaShem, to eternity. Because of the fact that they did not greet you with bread and water on the road when you were leaving Egypt, and because he hired against you Balaam, son of Beor, of Pethor, Aram Naharaim, to curse you. But HaShem, your G-d, refused to listen to Balaam, and HaShem, your G-d, reversed the curse to a blessing for you, because HaShem, your G-d, loved you. You shall not seek their peace or their welfare, all your days, forever. The Torah informs us that the primary reason that the males from Ammon and Moav are prohibited from marrying into the Jewish People is because they were not considerate of the Jewish People’s needs when the Jewish People were sojourning in the Wilderness. The Torah thus exhorts the Jewish People that they should not seek the good or peace of Ammon and Moav for eternity. The Jewish People are all about good and peace, and Ammon and Moav cannot partake in those attributes. It is noteworthy that regarding Shabbos, we find the words good and peace mentioned numerous times. The Zohar states that Shabbos is peace, and the Gemara (Shabbos 23b) states that a woman lights Shabbos candles for Shalom bayis, domestic harmony. In the Shabbos prayers we recite the words sabeinu mituvecha, satiate us from Your Goodness. Why is Shabbos referred to as a day of goodness and peace? We know that good is usually interpreted as the opposite of bad, but peace does not necessarily mean serenity. Rather, peace connotes the co-existence of two contradictory ideas. Ammon and Moav are deemed to be bad neighbors of the Jewish People (See Gemara Sanhedrin 96b). The reason that they are bad neighbors is because despite the fact that the Torah instructs us not to provoke Ammon and Moav to war, these nations still felt it necessary to deny us bread and water and Moav hires Balaam to curse the Jewish People. Thus, one who cannot co-exist with another is not at peace and is certainly not good. On Shabbos, we are at peace, because, despite the trials and tribulations we may undergo during the week, on Shabbos we come to peace with our situation and we enter into the world of HaShem, where everything is truly good.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Melech hadur, King Who is glorious. What do we mean when we declare that HaShem is glorious? It is said (Tehillim 104:1) hod vehadar lavashta, You have donned glory and majesty. Glory is an external cloak that HaShem dons (see Malbim Tehillim Ibid and to 96:6) and this in a sense defines HaShem’s exterior. Similarly, it is said (Ibid) hadar kevod hodecho vidivrei nifliosecha asicha, the splendorous glory of Your power and wondrous deeds I shall discuss. Hashem’s Power is revealed and His wondrous deeds are often hidden. When we declare that HaShem is glorious, we are indicating that we can discern His external glory but we cannot necessarily attain an understanding into His Inner Glory.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Umeiolam vead olam atah kel, from this world to the World to Come, You, are G-d. The Mishnah in Brachos (54a) states that all those who would conclude blessings in the first Bais HaMikdash would say ad haOlam, “until the World.” When the Sadducees corrupted the faith and declared that there is only one world, Ezra and his colleagues instituted that those who conclude blessings in the Bais HaMikdash should say: min haOlam vead haOlam, “from the World until the World.” This declaration strengthened the belief in the existence of the World to Come. The Sfas Emes writes (Vayikra-Shabbos HaGadol 5637) that there are two types of Shabbos. One form of Shabbos is when one is granted respite from the Evil Inclination and forces of evil. A second Shabbos is when one is no longer a servant to HaShem in the traditional sense. Rather, one serves HaShem like a son serves His father. This, the Sfas Emes writes, is the meaning of the words min haOlam vead haOlam, from this world to the World to Come. The word olam is derived from the word helam, which means hidden. There are two forms of concealment. One form of concealment is when one is physically submerged and he cannot see because of the darkness that the Evil Inclination spreads over him. The second form of concealment is when one cannot perceive the depths of holiness which is so distant from him. When one is freed from the first concealment, he merits the first Shabbos, and he enters into the servitude of HaShem, which in relation to the first enslavement, is deemed to be freedom. When the Jewish People were redeemed from Egypt, however, they merited the second level of Shabbos, and this is referred to as Shabbos HaGadol. (See Sfas Emes Ibid for detailed explanation of this profound concept.)

Shabbos Story

Dr. James David Weis had been attending Rabbi Berel Wein’s classes for a while, and though he was not committed to Yiddishkeit in all its aspects, he was truly fascinated by the amazing insights and the spiritual impact that Torah study had made on his life. In fact, although he was a shiur regular, and his wife was committed to Torah observance as prescribed by the Shulchan Aruch, the doctor had not yet made the commitment to observe Shabbos. Towards the summer, Dr. Weiss mentioned to Rabbi Wein that shortly he would be visiting Israel. The doctor had heard Rabbi Wein’s stories of his experiences, as the Rabbi of Miami Beach, having chauffeured Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, the Ponovezher Rav, on his fund-raising missions in the United States. In many of his lectures, Rabbi Wein had related his close relationship with Rav Kahaneman, and Dr. Weiss excitedly told Rabbi Wein that he would soon visit the Ponovezher Yeshiva. Dr. Weiss did not know that the Rav had passed away a decade earlier, so he enthusiastically offered to send Rabbi Wein’s regards to the Ponovezher Rav. Not trying to discourage the visit, Rabbi Wein smiled and said, “you could try.” Dr. Weiss arrived at the Ponovezher Yeshiva and after marveling at the beauty of its gilded Aron Kodesh and nearly 1000 swaying Talmudists, he asked a boy to direct him to the Ponovezher Rav. Since the Rav had passed away a decade earlier, they directed him to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Menachem Shach. Dr. Weiss waited for the sage to lift his head from the large tome. The old sage looked up and greeted the doctor. Dr. Weiss stuck out his hand, and with the remnants of the Yiddish he had salvaged from his youth, he addressed Rav Shach. “Sholom Aleichem! My name is Dr. Weiss I study with Rabbi Wein and I come from America with warmest regards from him.” Rav Shach looked at him quizzically. “I do not know a Rabbi Wein.” “Do you not remember?” asked Dr. Weiss in shock. “Rabbi Berel Wein,” he repeated. “He would often drive you when you visited Miami on behalf of the Yeshiva.” Rav Shach smiled. “I do not know Rabbi Wein, and I have never been to Miami. My name is Shach. I think you meant to see Rav Kahaneman, but unfortunately he has passed away.” Dr. Weiss looked embarrassed, but Rav Shach quickly dissolved the discomfort by holding the doctor’s hand and blessing him warmly. “Dr. Weiss, you are a good Jew and you should be a gebenchta (a blessed) Jew. But remember, Shabbos observance is an integral part of Yiddishkeit. Do not forsake the Shabbos!” Dr. Weiss was astonished. How did Rav Shach know about his wavering commitment to Torah-observance? It did not make much of a difference, because from that day on Dr. Weiss affirmed his committed to Shabbos with the same intensity that he had always committed to his fellow man.

Shabbos in History

In the years before the establishment of the State of Israel, Rabbi Aryeh Levin, the Tzaddik of Jerusalem, would visit the inmates of the British-controlled Jerusalem prison on every Shabbos. Though most of the Jewish prisoners were not observant, they would quickly don kippot before the revered Rabbi would greet them. Then they would join in the Shabbos morning prayer service that Reb Aryeh organized and they would read along with the rabbi, as if they were observant Jews. The entire scene agitated one particularly nasty fellow named Yaakov. He would try in every way to irritate the gentle Rabbi. Each Shabbos, he would purposely light up a cigarette in Reb Aryeh's face in order to disturb him. Reb Aryeh was never fazed. One Shabbos, Yaakov stormed into the makeshift synagogue and snapped at the aged Rabbi. “Why do you waste your time with these liars and fakes? They are no more observant than I am. They only put the kippah on their heads when you come here. Furthermore, they only pray and open their lips to G-d when you are here. Otherwise they have no feeling in their hearts!” Reb Aryeh turned to Yaakov and rebuked him with a firm but gentle voice. “Why do you slander these souls? They come to pray every single week. I do not look at their heads but rather in their hearts. And when I hear the prayers coming from their lips, I know that their hearts are following as well.” It was not long before Yaakov became a steady member of the prayer group.

Shabbos in the Daf

Yevamos 114a

The Gemara states that if a gentile seeks to extinguish a fire on Shabbos, we do not tell him to extinguish the fire, as the Chachamim prohibited one from instructing a gentile to violate a Shabbos prohibition. Yet, one is not required to tell the gentile not to extinguish the fire, as a Jew is not commanded to restrain a gentile from performing labor on Shabbos. Regarding a Jewish minor, however, if the minor seeks to extinguish the fire, we do not allow him to do so, because we are commanded to restrain a minor from violating a Shabbos prohibition. It is fascinating that Jewish children from a young age are inculcated with the concept that an item is muktzeh, prohibited from moving on Shabbos, and other tenets of the Holy Shabbos. Shabbos is ingrained in the Jewish People, and it is worth our while to educate our children regarding all the various laws of Shabbos, so that they will observe the Shabbos properly. In this way they will also appreciate the distinction between a Jew and a gentile, as this is one of the fundamentals of Shabbos.

Shabbos in Halacha

When one uses a ladle to take soup from a kli rishon, i.e., a pot, there is a question regarding the status of the ladle. Some Poskim adopt the view that the ladle has a status of a kli sheini, thus rendering the bowl in which the soup is served a kli shelishi. According to this opinion, one would be permitted to add baked items or any spices to the bowl of soup. Other Poskim rule that given the fact that the ladle is submerged in a kli rishon (the pot), the ladle is also deemed to be a kli rishon. According to this view, the bowl is only a kli sheini, into which one is forbidden to add baked items or uncooked spices. [We will discuss next week what one should do in practice].

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

It is said regarding Shabbos (Shemos 31:17) beini uvein bnei Yisroel os hi liolam, between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:8) states that HaShem told Shabbos that the Jewish People would be its mate. It is noteworthy that the last letters of the words os hi liolam spell the word teom, which means twin. This alludes to the idea that Shabbos is between HaShem and the Jewish People like a twin, as Shabbos is the mate of the Jewish People.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Ki Seitzei 5767

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos.

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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