Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shevii Shel Pesach 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shevii Shel Pesach 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

This Shabbos is Shevii Shel Pesach, the seventh day of Pesach. Although the festival of Pesach is one long eight-day holiday, the seventh day of Pesach bears its own uniqueness. What is so special about the seventh day of Pesach? Rashi quotes the Medrash that states that the Jewish People were liberated from Egypt on the fifteenth of Nissan, which is the first day of Pesach, and on the twenty-first of Nissan, which was the seventh day of Pesach, the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea and the Jewish People sang the Shirah to HaShem. On the eve of the fifteenth of Nissan, we celebrate our freedom from Egypt by conducting a Seder, and in the Diaspora, we conduct a Seder on the second night of Pesach. Yet, the Jewish People were not truly free from the clutches of the Egyptians until the seventh day of Pesach, when Pharaoh and his armies were drowned in the Red Sea (There is an opinion in the Medrash, Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer §43 that states that Pharaoh himself did not drown). One must wonder, then, why we celebrate our freedom on the fifteenth of Nissan and not on the twenty-first of Nissan, which is the seventh day of Pesach? I would like to suggest a novel approach to answer this question. It is interesting to note that regarding two of the plagues that HaShem sent against the Egyptians, the Torah uses the word gevul, boundary. Regarding the plague of tzifardeia, frogs, it is said (Shemos 7:27) viim maein atah lishaleiach hinei anochi nogeif es kol givulecha batzfardiim, but if you refuse to send out, behold I shall strike your entire boundary with frogs. It is also said regarding the plague of arbeh, locusts (Ibid 10:4) ki im maein atah lishaleiach es ami hinini maivi machar arbeh bigvulecho, for if you refuse to send forth My people, behold, tomorrow I shall bring a locust-swarm into your border. I have wondered for years why specifically by these two plagues does the Torah use the word gevul, boundary. It is fascinating to note that regarding the prohibition of keeping or eating Chametz, leavened bread, on Pesach, it is said (Ibid 13:7) matzos yeacheil es shivas hayamim vilo yeiraeh lecho seor bichol givulecha, matzos shall be eaten throughout the seven-day period; no chametz may be seen in your possession, nor may leaven be seen in your possession in all your borders. Thus, we see that a recurring them of the redemption is the idea of borders and boundaries. What is the association of borders with chametz? We have previously mentioned that Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita said that Pesach is all about rising above our limitations. Based on this premise, we can understand why the Torah states that one should not find seor in all your borders. Chametz symbolizes stagnation, i.e. one who remains within his limitations. The Torah prohibits one to remain within his borders on Pesach. The plagues of frogs and locusts represented a swarm, which in essence were a symbol of transcending limitations. These two plagues were specific lessons for the Jewish People, which culminated with the prohibition of seor within their borders. Let us now turn to Shevii Shel Pesach, when the Jewish People experienced true freedom from their Egyptian masters. The Medrash (Mechilta Yisro 3) states that the reason why HaShem orchestrated the Splitting of The Sea was so that the Jewish People should cry out to Him again, just as they had done in Egypt, and in this manner they would always remember that only HaShem can save the from their difficulties. Perhaps there is an additional dimension to the Splitting of the Sea. We are taught (Tosfos Arachin 15a s.v. kisheim) that there was no real need for the Jewish People to cross the Red Sea. Rather, HaShem sought to punish the Egyptians so He had the Jewish People walk through dry land and then He drowned the Egyptians. The Medrash (Mechilta Bashalach) states that the Jewish People felt trapped, as on one side were the pursuing Egyptians and on the other side they were faced by the raging sea. Based on the explanation we gave earlier, we can now better understand why the Jewish People were placed in such a predicament. The Jewish People were presented with a situation where the only option was to transcend their limitations. This was accomplished by Nachshon ben Aminadav from the tribe of Yehudah walking straight into the raging sea, and by the Jewish People praying to HaShem, their only salvation. Thus, while we only attained true freedom on the seventh day of Pesach, the concept of transcending our limitations was already incorporated during the plagues and with the prohibition of not eating any chametz or seor for the entire seven days of Pesach. With this idea in mind we can understand a peculiar statement in the Gemara. The Gemara (Rosh HaShanah 11a) states that the enslavement of the Jewish People ceased in the month of Tishrei. One must wonder, then, what the Jewish People were doing for a half a year while the Egyptians were being afflicted with plagues. I believe the answer to this question is a profound lesson in our service of HaShem. Even if one has not yet experienced true liberation from a difficult situation that he finds himself in, he must know that by merely attempting to transcend his limitations, he is already deemed to be a free person. The Baal HaTurim (Shemos 10:14) quotes the Zohar that states that the locust rested on Shabbos. Perhaps this teaches us that when one expends the effort during the week to transcend his limitations and achieve his true potential, he will be rewarded with the true rest that is reflected in the Holy Day of Shabbos. HaShem should grant us this Shevii Shel Pesach that we move past anything that is inhibiting us from serving Him properly, and we should merit the Ultimate Redemption, with the downfall of all our enemies, speedily, on our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Sheyifkiduni birachamim vivarchuni bivoam liveisi biyom kadsheinu, that they remember me with mercy and bless me when they enter my home on our holy day. It is noteworthy that we request from HaShem that the angels bless us upon entering into our homes. The Gemara (Shabbos 119b) states that two angels, one good and one bad, escort a person home on Friday night. When the person arrives home and finds his lamp burning, the table set and his bed made, the good angel declares, “may it be HaShem’s will that it should be this way the next Shabbos as well.” The bad angel is then forced to answer “Amen” against his will. The Ohr HaChaim (Bamidbar 23:24) writes that Balaam was akin to the bad angel, and thus Balaam was forced to bless the Jewish People against his will. The Torah states that Balaam was profuse in his blessing of the Jewish People when he saw that they were modest in their tents. We should take a lesson from this and ensure that our homes are infused with modesty and respect, and HaShem will then bless our homes with plenty in all of our material and spiritual needs.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Efes biltecho goaleinu limos hamashiach, there will be nothing without You, our Redeemer, in Messianic days. This is truly an amazing idea. For two thousand years we are praying that HaShem send us Moshiach, His anointed one, and then all our problems will be solved. Yet, we still acknowledge that there will be nothing without HaShem. This idea is also reflected in Shemone Esrei where we beseech HaShem: hashivah shofteinu kivarishona viyoatzeinu kivatchila vihaseir mimenu yagon vaanacha umloch aleinu miheira atah HaShem livadcho bichesed uvirachamim, restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as at first; remove from us sorrow and groan; and speedily reign over us – You, HaShem, alone – with kindness and compassion. Ultimately, we understand that only HaShem is our true King. HaShem should allow us to witness His reign in our times.

Shabbos Story

[Reprinted with permission from] With Passover come and gone, thoughts of liberation and Jewish survival linger in the hearts and minds of many. Linked inextricably with these thoughts is the image of the Jewish woman, who has always been an agent of continuity and vision for her people. From the enslavement in Egypt through life in the desert and beyond, a beam of feminine light pierces the darkest moments in Jewish history, pointing towards a better future. This week, Women in Judaism shares the story of one Jewish woman who refuses to give in to what another might consider impending doom. Lady Amelie Jacobovits is the widow of the late Rav Lord Immanuel Jacobovits, Chief Rabbi Emeritus of the British Commonwealth. Her Passover story of Holocaust survival demonstrates how the powerful life force of a Jewish woman connects our past, present and future.


By Lady Amelie Jacobovits
(Adapted from The Jewish Women's Journal, Summer 1993)

“Occasionally, one memory escapes from the vault that holds the terror of those years. One Passover, my three-year old grandchild looked up at me from his chair at the Seder table. I don’t even know what he said, because the rush of Passover 1941 blocked everything else. I was a young girl hidden in a dark cellar in central France. I was without other family - alone with four other children, all of us strangers. Today and in recent years, as I celebrate Passover surrounded by the comforts and luxury of our London flat and the security of more than a dozen relatives and friends, I realize that for all of their splendor, these holidays cannot compare in my heart to that unique event 62 years ago. 1941 was the most extraordinary Passover of my life. But before I describe it, let me explain how I got to that cellar. I was born in the years preceding World War II and lived content and well loved by my family in Nurnberg. By 1933, however, my world was getting darker till, one day, Nazi storm troopers marched into Nurnberg ordering that all major buildings must fly the swastika flag by evening. In 1936, my parents took us to Paris, as my father had been appointed rabbi of the prominent Rue Cadet synagogue. Within a few years, as the political situation deteriorated, my father was conscripted into the army and had to leave us. In 1940, when the Nazis began bombing Paris, my mother fled with us - her four children - on the last train before the main onslaught. It was the eve of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. The mass of people on that train - a tornado of humanity - repeatedly wrenched us from one another. Months later, on another leg of our desperate journey I lost track of my family altogether and began to wander from village to village. Lone children all over were doing the same. One night just before dawn I could go no further. I knocked on the farmhouse door of what turned out to be a kind, courageous gentile farmer. He took me to his cellar where I found another little girl. Eventually two boys and another girl joined us. None of us admitted we were Jewish for several days. It was a dire winter. Each morning, a few rays of light would poke their way into the cellar through two windows high on the wall - our only eyes to the world outside. The farmer had lowered us into the cellar through those windows and every day through one of them he lowered a net with five morsels of food and a bucket for our natural needs. Strange as it sounds, we were very lucky. In that difficult winter, five homeless children developed values so different from those today - as well as a bond of lifelong friendship. One day, peering from the cellar up through the windows one of us noticed a streak of sunlight in blue sky. A few days later, another saw blades of grass penetrating the frozen terrain. We had no calendar or sense of time, but we concluded that, if the weather was indeed changing with spring on its way, maybe we were nearing Passover. Each of us children came from a different range of Jewish commitment, yet we shared a strong desire to do something to celebrate what we sensed was the upcoming Passover holiday. When the farmer appeared with our food the next morning, we asked if he would lower in tomorrow's basket a small amount of flour, a bottle of water, a newspaper and a match. Two days later we received a small bottle of water, but we had to wait several days for the flour. The entire region was drained of provisions, with everything being transported north to Germany. Our host the farmer had himself barely anything to eat. A day later, a newspaper came through - and then a match. We waited a few more days. We saw a full day of sunshine and blue skies, and we decided that, in order to cultivate a festive spirit, we would switch clothing with one another and wear them as if new. So we changed clothes; the two boys trading and the girls exchanging dresses. Before evening we baked our matzah, though we hadn't a clue how to do so. We poured water into the flour and held the dough in our bare hands over the burning newspaper on the floor. We produced something which resembled matzah and, whatever it was provided enough for the five of us. That night we celebrated Passover. One of us recalled by heart the Kiddush - the blessing that sanctifies the Passover night. Another remembered the Four Questions - the part of the Seder the young children recite. We told a few stories of the Exodus that we remembered having heard from our parents. Finally, we managed to reconstruct “One Kid, Which my Father Bought for Two Zuzim,” the song which typically ends the evening. We had a Passover to remember. With no festive food, no silver candlesticks and no wine - with only our simple desire to connect with G-d - we had a holiday more profound than any we have known since. I thank G-d for allowing me to live to be able to tell my children and grandchildren about it. Even more, I feel obligated to the younger generations of my family, who never experienced what I did, to pass on the clarity it gave me - the vivid appreciation of G-d’s presence in my life, of His constant blessings, wonders and teachings…and of His commitment to the survival of the Jewish people.

[Women in Judaism, Copyright (c) 2002 by Mrs. Leah Kohn and Project Genesis, Inc.]

Shabbos in Navi

Shoftim Chapter 9

In this chapter the Navi records the evil that was perpetrated by Avimelech the son of Gideon. Avimelech killed his seventy brothers on one rock and only his brother Yosam was left alive. HaShem ultimately punished Avimelech and he was wounded by a woman and Avimelech had his attendant kill him so that people would not say that he was killed by a woman. On the surface it is difficult to understand why the Navi recorded this tragic chapter in Jewish history. Yet, we must realize that we are presented with similar challenges in our lives and one must be wise enough to acknowledge the challenges and pray to HaShem for salvation. In a similar vein, throughout the week we are under pressure from all the foreign influences that surround us. On Shabbos, however, HaShem in His graciousness envelopes us in a Cloud of Glory which shields us from all evil influences. This Shabbos is Shevii Shel Pesach, when HaShem created darkness for the pursuing Egyptians and light for the Jewish People. Thus, we should merit recognizing that HaShem is constantly seeking our welfare and we should never despair of His salvation, which can come in the blink of an eye.

Shabbos in Agadah

Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov (Menachem Tziyon Vayikra) writes that Moshe did not instruct the Jewish People regarding the Shabbos immediately, as Moshe desired that the Jewish People recognize and know on their own that Shabbos emanates from HaShem. Shabbos is referred to as daas, knowledge. Thus, it is insufficient for one to sanctify the Shabbos because that is what everyone else is doing. Rather, one must feel a close attachment to the Holy Shabbos, as Shabbos is a gift from HaShem.

Shabbos in Halacha

In summary, it is forbidden for one to stir or to scoop food from a pot of fully cooked food while directly over a flame. One must first lift the pot or move it away from the flame before stirring or scooping food from it. In a situation where it would be forbidden to return the pot to its position, one could scoop out fully cooked food while directly over the flame. However, one is forbidden to stir cooked food in such a situation. Boiled liquids, while hot, would be exempt from this prohibition. [One is always prohibited from scooping partially cooked food from a pot while the food is yad soledes bo.]

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

There is an allusion to Shabbos in the Shirah, the song that the Jewish People sang by the Red Sea. It is said (Shemos 15:13) nachisa vichasdecho am zu gaalta neihalta viazcha el nevi kodshecha, with Your kindness You guided this people that you redeemed; You led with Your might to Your holy abode. We can interpret this verse to be alluding to Shabbos, i.e. HaShem leads us to His Holy Abode, Shabbos. The word nachisa in mispar katan equals 9 (nun is 50 which is 5, ches is 8, yud is 10 which is 1, and saf is 400 which is 4, and 5+8+1+4=18, and 1+8=9), and the word Shabbos in mispar katan equals 9 (shin is 300 which is 3, bais is 2, and saf is 400 which is 4, and 3+2+4=9). The word viazcha in mispar katan equals 9 (veis is 2, ayin is 70 which is 7, zayin is 7, and chof is 20 which is 2, and 2+7+7+2=18, and 1+8=9), and the word nivei in mispar katan equals 7 (nun is 50 which is 5, vav is 6, and hey is 5, and 5+6+5=16, and 1+6=7), which alludes to Shabbos, the seventh day of the week.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shevii Shel Pesach 5768

Is sponsored by Leonard Gutman in loving memory of his mother Esther Gutman ob”m, Esther Rivka bas Aryeh Leib, niftarah 26 Nissan,

And in loving memory of his mother-in-law, Rose Grossman ob”m,

Rivka bas Yitzchak, niftarah 26 Nissan

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 and a Chag Kosher V’sameach

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

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Anonymous said...

"Perhaps this teaches us that when one expends the effort during the week to transcend his limitations and achieve his true potential, he will be rewarded with the true rest that is reflected in the Holy Day of Shabbos. HaShem should grant us this Shevii Shel Pesach that we move past anything that is inhibiting us from serving Him properly, and we should merit the Ultimate Redemption, with the downfall of all our enemies, speedily, on our days."

Amen v'amen. Thank you again for wonderful dvar Torah. Shabbat shalom and Pesach sameach.


Anonymous said...

thank you and good Shabbos and good Yom Tov to you

Rabbi Adler