Friday, March 28, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shemini-Parah 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shemini-Parah 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

This week we read Parashas Parah, which discusses the laws of one who became defiled through corpse tumah and undergoes a purification process by having the ashes of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer, sprinkled on him. The Medrash (Pesikta Dirav Kahana 4:1) points out the paradox that lies within this statute. On the one hand, the person who was tamei, impure, becomes purified through the Parah Adamah, and on the other hand, the Kohen who was engaged in the purification process becomes tamei. The Medrash (Koheles Rabbah 7:35) states that the wise King Shlomo sought to understand the complexities contained within the mitzvah of Parah Adumah, and King Shlomo ultimately declared (Koheles 7:23) kol zoh nisisi vachachmah amarti echkomah vihi richokah mimeni, all this I tested with wisdom; I thought I could become wise but it is beyond me. Thus, King Shlomo admitted that the paradox regarding the mitzvah of Parah Adumah was beyond his comprehension. Although we cannot claim to resolve the paradox, perhaps we can suggest that the paradox is solvable if one is on certain level of spirituality. The Ramban (Bereishis 49:10) writes that the entire Chashmonai family, who were the catalysts for the Chanukah miracle, was obliterated because they were Kohanim and a Kohen cannot function simultaneously as a Jewish king. The Shem MiShmuel (Chanukah) writes that the inherent difficulty in a Kohen being a king is that these two functions are contradictory. The Chashmonaim themselves, however, were able to rise above these contradictions. It was the Chashmonaim’s descendants, however, who were not able to exist on the plane that transcended contradictions and this paradox was the cause of their deaths. Based on the premise of the Shem MiShmuel, we can suggest that the paradox of the Parah Adumah was only for those who could not reason on the plane of contradictions. Moshe, however, was above contradictions, as Moshe functioned simultaneously as a Kohen Gadol and as a king (see Shem MiShmuel Ibid for proofs to this). It is thus understandable why the Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 19:6) states that HaShem told Moshe that although He would not reveal the rationale for Parah Adumah to others, Hashem would reveal the reason to Moshe. This can be understood when we realize that Moshe functioned on a plane that was above contradictions. In a similar vein, the Medrash (Sifri Ki Seitzei §23) states that Shabbos contains various contradictions. For example, the Torah states regarding Shabbos (Shemos 31:14) michalileha mos yumas, its desecrators shall be put to death. Yet, we know that the Kohanim offered sacrifices on Shabbos in the Bais HaMikdash. Although we may not be able to comprehend the contradictions that are contained within Shabbos, we can live with the paradox because on Shabbos we are elevated to a higher plane than during the week. Wisdom can be found in a place called ayin, as it is said (Iyov 28:12) vihachachma meayin timatzei, [but as for] wisdom, where can it be found? In the Kedushah of Shacharis on Shabbos, we recite the words ayeh mikom kevodo, where is the place of His glory? The Arizal writes that that the word ayeh is an acrostic for the words es yom haShabbos, the day of Shabbos. Thus, we see that Shabbos is also in a place that is beyond our understanding. Nonetheless, we must appreciate that HaShem bestowed upon us His precious treasure, the Holy Shabbos, and we have the ability to exist in a world that transcends all contradictions.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Vichol minei dalus vaaniyus vievyonus¸ and every manner of need, poverty, and destitution. It is interesting to note that the Gemara (Chagigah 9b) states that yafeh aniyus liYisroel, poverty is good for the Jewish People. Why, then, do we beseech HaShem to remove from our midst all forms of poverty? Perhaps we can suggest that it is said (Mishlei 10:22) bircas HaShem hi taashir, it is the blessing of HaShem that enriches. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:1) states that this refers to Shabbos, which is the day that HaShem blessed. Poverty is deemed to be a virtue of the Jewish People. Nonetheless, with the onset of Shabbos we ask HaShem to remove all forms of poverty because HaShem already blessed Shabbos and we do not want that our poverty should conflict with the blessing of HaShem.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Efes biltecho, there is nothing without You. This declaration bears a powerful message for all of us. How often does one act in certain way, assuming that as long as the act is not a sin, there is no need for concern? Yet, if one were to be cognizant of the fact that nothing could be accomplished without HaShem’s assistance, one would surely be more careful in all his actions.

Shabbos Story

Back in the 1800’s, the Magid of Trisk and Reb Mendel of Vorke were dear friends living next to each other. But, unfortunately Rav Mendel had to move to the other side of the forest, a distance of a half-a-day’s walk. Seeing his agony, Reb Mendel's sexton, Moishele, anxiously offered to make the three-hour trip each Friday to deliver correspondence. And so it went. Every Friday morning, Moishele would set out across the forest and deliver Reb Mendele’s letter to the Trisker Magid. He would wait for the Magid to read the letter and reply. Often it would take a while until the Magid returned from his study, eyes red from tears, his quivering hand holding the magnificently crafted response in a special envelope. Moshele would deliver the response to the Vorke Rebbe, and that letter, too, evoked the same emotional response: tears of joy and meaning filled the Rebbe’s eyes. After a year as a faithful envoy, Moishele’s curiosity overtook him. “What possibly can those letters contain? Would it be so bad if I took a peek?” Therefore, one Friday he carefully opened the envelope - without disturbing the seal. He saw absolutely nothing. Just a blank paper rested between the walls of the envelope. Shocked, Moshe carefully, placed the so-called letter back into the envelope and delivered it to the Trisker Maggid. Like clockwork, the Rebbe went into the study, and a half-hour later, bleary-eyed and shaken, he returned a letter to be delivered to his friend Reb Mendel of Vorke. At this point, Moishele could not wait to leave the house and race back into the forest, where he would secretly bare the contents of the envelope, hoping to solve the mysterious exchange. Again, blank paper. Moishele was mortified. “Have I been schlepping six hours each week with blank papers? What is this a game?” he wondered. The entire Shabbos he could not contain his displeasure. Motzai Shabbos, Reb Mendel called him in to his study. “You seem agitated, my dear shammas,” he asked. “What seems to be the problem?” “Problem?” he responded. “You know those letters I’ve been carrying. I admit it. I looked, this Friday. There was nothing in them! They were blank! What kind of game is this?” Reb Mendel did not flinch. “The Torah,” he said, “has black letters on white parchment. The black contain the words we express. The white contains a message that is deeper than letters. Our feelings are often expressed through black letters. This week, we wrote with the white parchment. We expressed an emotion that transcends letters.” [Rabbi Mordechai Kaminetsky, reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos in Navi

Shoftim Chapter 5

In this chapter the Navi records the Song of Devorah, which Devorah sung in praise of HaShem after the Jewish People defeated Sisra and his armies. It is said (Shoftim 5:12) oori oori Devorah oori oori dabri shir, give praise, give praise, O Devorah! Give praise, give praise, utter a song! The Gemara (Pesachim 66b) states that because Devorah displayed a slight show of arrogance, she lost the Divine Spirit and thus she was required to arouse, so to speak, the Divine Spirit to return to her. On Friday evening we recite in the prayer of Lecho Dodi the words oori oori shir dabeiri kevod HaShem layish niglah, wake up! Wake up! For your light has come, rise up and shine. Throughout the week we tend to lose ourselves in self-aggrandizement, at times even forgetting that it is HaShem Who determines our success. With the onset of Shabbos, however, we realize that we are HaShem’s humble servants and we are thus exhorted to awaken and acknowledge that the glory of HaShem is revealed on us.

Shabbos in Agadah

The uniqueness of Shabbos is that besides delighting in Shabbos on the seventh day of the week, we have the six days of the week to prepare for Shabbos. It is important that we ready ourselves and our families for Shabbos during the week. When we anticipate the Shabbos throughout the week, we can enter into Shabbos in a state of ecstasy. The Evil Inclination uses his most powerful arsenal to prevent a Jewish home from achieving peace and harmony on Shabbos. Let us use the weekday, which is primarily the domain of the Evil Inclination, to prepare for Shabbos and then we will surely merit that all harsh judgments be removed with the onset of Shabbos.

Shabbos in Halacha

We learned earlier that when one stirs food that has not been fully cooked he violates the melacha of bishul. This prohibition applies equally to fully cooked foods. Thus, it is forbidden to stir cooked or uncooked food which is on a flame. This prohibition applies even when the flame is covered by a blech. There is a distinction, however, between fully cooked foods and foods that have not been completely cooked. One can stir a food that is not fully cooked even if the pot was taken off the blech, as long as the food is still yad soledes bo. Regarding fully cooked foods, however, there is only a prohibition when the food is directly over a flame. If the pot is lifted off the flame or if the pot is moved to a location on the blech that is not directly over the flame, one can stir the cooked food.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

It is said (Tehillim 92:1) mizmor shir leyom haShabbos tov lehodos laHaShem ulizameir Lishimcho elyon, a psalm, a song for the Shabbos day. It is good to thank HaShem and to sing praise to Your Name, O exalted One. It is noteworthy that the first letters of the words ulizameir Lishimcho elyon (6+30+70=6+3+7=16) equal in mispar katan, digit sum, 16, and 1+6=7. This alludes to Shabbos, the seventh day of the week.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shemini-Parah 5768

is sponsored by the Kroll family in loving memory of Mrs. Genia Kroll ob”m

Henya bas Reb Tzvi, niftarah 22 Adar 5756

I will be giving a class in Navi Shabbos afternoon

at Congregation Dovid Ben Nuchim-Aish Kodesh

14800 West Lincoln, in Oak Park, ½ an hour before Minchah.

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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