Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Sukkos 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Sukkos 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah
This Shabbos is the festival of Sukkos, when we commemorate the fact that HaShem enveloped the Jewish People in the Wilderness with the Clouds of Glory. The Ksav Sofer raises a profound question. Why do we commemorate the miracle of the Clouds of Glory, whereas there is no apparent commemoration for the other miracles that HaShem performed for the Jewish People in the Wilderness? We do not commemorate the daily manna that HaShem proffered to the Jewish People and we do not commemorate the miracle of the well of Miriam that journeyed with the Jewish People for forty years. What is unique about the Clouds of Glory that we commemorate their protection of the Jewish People? To answer this question, we must understand the various miracles that HaShem performs for the Jewish People. There are certain miracles that HaShem performs for us that save us from danger. One example of such a miracle is when the Amorites hid in the caves of the mountains with the intent of ambushing the Jewish People. Hashem performed a miracle and the mountains joined together, thus crushing and killing the Amorites. A different type of miracle that HaShem performed for the Jewish People was the ten plagues in Egypt which served as a punishment for the Egyptians and simultaneously demonstrated that HaShem loves the Jewish People. The miracles of the daily manna and the well of Miriam demonstrated HaShem’s love for the Jewish People. The Clouds of Glory were a reflection of HaShem’s love for the Jewish People, but they also served as a protection for the Jewish People. Furthermore, the Baal HaTurim (Bamidbar 22:5) writes that while the Jewish People were able to see him, he was not able to see the Jewish People, as they were surrounded by the Clouds of Glory. It is noteworthy that the Medrash (Sifri) states that there were seven Clouds of Glory. We are biblically required to dwell in the Sukkah for seven days. Shabbos is the seventh day of the week. The Medrash states that all sevens are cherished and holy. Commemorating the miracle of the clouds of Glory is not merely a commemoration of a miracle. Rather, the Sukkah, which is symbolic of the Clouds of Glory, demonstrates how HaShem loves the Jewish People, and how we are distinct from the rest of the world. The Yaavetz writes in his Siddur that the greatest miracle of all time is that the Jewish People have survived all the exiles and all the persecutions. What better way is there to commemorate this miracle than by celebrating the festival of Sukkos? The word Sukkah is normally translated as covering. Alternatively, the word Sukkah is derived from the word sach, which means to look (See Rashi Bereishis 11:29). This interpretation reflects on the dual functionality of Sukkos. One aspect of the Sukkah is that we conceal ourselves in the Sukkah, as the Sukkah reflects HaShem’s protection of us from the outside world. On the other hand, however, the Sukkah demonstrates how after Yom Kippur HaShem grants us a new perspective on life, where we can actually “see” the Clouds of Glory. Similarly, Shabbos is a day when HaShem shows His love for the Jewish People. Additionally, as we recite in the Shabbos Shacharis prayers, HaShem did not prefer the Shabbos to the nations of the world. Rather, Hashem gave it with love to the Jewish People, whom He has chosen. Sukkos and Shabbos both reflect on HaShem’s love for the Jewish People, and that are distinct from the nations of the world. Let us use this Divine opportunity to study HaShem’s Torah, perform the unique mitzvos of dwelling in the Sukkah and taking the Four Species, and then HaShem will allow us to merit what is said (Amos 9: 11) bayom hahu akim es Sukkas Dovid hanofeles, on that day I will establish the booth of Dovid that is fallen, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros
Ribbon kol HaOlamim
Published in 5401 (1641)
Melech yachid umeyuchad, King Who is unique and Whose uniqueness is proclaimed. One must wonder why we refer to HaShem as a unique king. Is not the fact that HaShem is the King of all kings sufficient praise? Why do we need to mention that HaShem is unique? Perhaps the answer to this question is that it is not sufficient to declare that HaShem is the King of all kings, because this praise may merely indicate that the other kings have power and HaShem has more power. When we declare that HaShem is unique, which defines HaShem’s Oneness, we are declaring that HaShem is the only true king, and all other kings are merely a reflection of HaShem’s kingship in this world.

Shabbos in Tefillah
Ribbon kol hamaasim, Master of all deeds. What does it mean that HaShem is Master of all deeds? One explanation is that HaShem is Master of all of our deeds. The Sfas Emes writes that we are merely akin to an axe in the hands of a woodchopper. When we perform an action, we are not merely fulfilling HaShem’s will. HaShem Himself in His glory is involved in every action that we perform, and thus it is fitting to praise HaShem as Master of all deeds.

Shabbos Story
One year on Sukkos a German Jew ran into the Sukkah of Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, crying, “gevalt, Rebbe, my seven good friends have left me.” The gabbai of the Rebbe was disturbed by this strange behavior. Who was this person who was carrying on to the Rebbe about having been forsaken by his seven good friends? Although the gabbai attempted to chase the man away, the Rebbe intervened and whispered something in the man’s ear. The stranger was placated and he left in a joyous state. Some time after the Rebbe passed away, the Rebbe’s son Reb Eliezer became the new Rebbe. One year, due to health reasons, Reb Eliezer was required to be in Vienna for Sukkos. When the Rebbe entered the Sukkah of his host on the first night of Sukkos, he was amazed to see the seven holy Ushpizin sitting in the Sukkah. When the Rebbe queried his host regarding this phenomenon, the man smiled and said, “Rebbe, do you not recognize me?” I am the German Jew who burst into your father’s Sukkah one year, lamenting the fact that my seven friends had deserted me. Reb Eliezer now recalled the incident. The host then explained the entire story. “I was a diamond merchant and I dealt with precious and rare stones. It was my custom that every year in honor of Sukkos I would display my most exquisite jewel that I possessed in my Sukkah. If I were to come across a nicer jewel during the year, I would set aside the jewel that I had used the previous year and use the new jewel in my Sukkah. In the merit of this mitzvah I would merit having the Ushpizin grace my Sukkah every year. One year I designated a very special stone for my Sukkah. Subsequently, a powerful king in Arabia desired this particular stone for his crown. Initially I resisted all offers for the stone, but when they offered me ten times the value of the stone, I succumbed and sold the stone. That year when I entered the Sukkah, I nearly fainted when I did not see the Holy Ushpizin. I understood that I was being punished for having sold the precious jewel. I was very depressed that Sukkos, until a friend of mine suggested that I ask the advice of the holy Berditchev. The Rebbe calmed me down and told me that if I were to accept on myself to adhere to my custom and not sell the stone I set aside for any price, the Ushpizin would return. And, the host said with a smile, “you see with your own eyes that the blessing of the Rebbe came true.” The host then invited the new Rebbe to recite Kiddush in the presence of the seven distinguished guests.

Shabbos in Navi
Yehoshua Chapter 4
In this chapter HaShem instructs Yehoshua to choose twelve men, one from each tribe, and that each man should remove one stone from the middle of the Jordan River and carry the stone across the river and set the stone in their place of lodging. The purpose of removing these stones was so that future generations will know that the waters of the Jordan River were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of HaShem. After following the instructions of Yehoshua, Yehoshua erected twelve other stones in the Jordan River and they remained there until this day. We have written previously that Tzadok HaKohen from Lublin writes that the commandment regarding Shabbos observance is mentioned twelve times in the Torah. We know that there are twenty-four chapters in Maseches Shabbos, and the Shabbos is compared to a bride, who is adorned with twenty-four jewels mentioned in the Book of Yeshaya. It would appear that the number twelve regarding Shabbos reflects the Jewish People, who consist of twelve tribes. Twelve reflects Shabbos, and twelve reflects the Jewish People, who function as the partner of Shabbos. Twelve and twelve is twenty-four, which is the number of jewels that the bride wears. When the Jewish People are married, i.e. in observance of the Shabbos, they are worthy of the jewels of the bride. This may be the explanation for the statement in the Zohar that on Shabbos, Moshe returns the crowns that the Jewish People forfeited when fashioning the Golden Calf. Although during the week our spiritual connection may not be as strong as we would desire, a Jew is automatically connected to HaShem and His Holy Shabbos.

Shabbos in the Daf
Kesubos 28a
The Mishna states that one can testify when he is an adult that when he was young, he went this far on Shabbos. This law refers to how far one can walk until he reaches the techum (the distance of two-thousand amos from a person’s Shabbos residence which he is permitted to travel on Shabbos). One of the most precious experiences that we can offer our children is the Holy Shabbos, when we spend time together as a family, delighting in the day that HaShem bestowed upon His Chosen People. These experiences will serve as good memories for our children when they grow up and they will be able to share their experiences with their children, thus continuing the tradition of observing the Shabbos faithful.

Shabbos in Halacha
Cooked noodles can be added to hot soup that is still in a pot (kli rishon) provided that the pot is first removed from the blech.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words
In the Shabbos Maariv prayer we recite the words ufros aleinu Sukkas shloemecha, and spread over us the shelter of Your peace. The word Sukkah (samach, kof, hey) in mispar katan, digit sum, equals thirteen. Shabbos reflects the Oneness of HaShem, so it is appropriate that we make this request specifically on Shabbos. The commentators write that the word Sukkah equals in gematria the Names of HaShem, which are HaShem and Ad-ony (91). This also reflects the Oneness of HaShem.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Sukkos 5768
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