Shabbos in the Parashah
In this weeks parashah it is said (Devarim 7:12) Re’eh anochi nosein lifneichem hayom birachah ukelalah, see, I present before you today a blessing and a curse. The Sfas Emes (Re’eh 5631) cites his grandfather, the Chiddushei HaRim, who said that this verse teaches us that it was instilled in every single Jew that he could choose the blessing. It is for this reason that we recite every day the blessing baruch atah HaShem Elokeinu melech haolam asher nasan lasechvi vinah lihavchin bein yom uvein laylah, blessed are You, HaShem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who gave the heart understanding to distinguish between day and night. Furthermore, the Medrash states that HaShem teaches us to choose life, and every utterance of HaShem functioned in this manner, instructing the Jewish People to choose life. In order to understand this concept better, it is worth examining the words of the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuvah 5:5) who addresses a well-known philosophical question. The question that the Rambam presents is how HaShem can give a person free choice if HaShem knows what will occur in the future. The Rambam posits that HaShem’s knowledge does not contradict the concept of free choice. This position of the Rambam has been debated throughout the centuries, but I would like to focus on a practical aspect of this matter. We would refer to an individual or the Jewish People who is in tune with HaShem’s will as recognizing HaShem’s Presence in this world. The reason for this is because when one does not perform HaShem’s will, it is referred to as the concealment of HaShem’s Presence in this world. It is obvious that these are all man’s perspectives, because it is impossible for HaShem to forget about the world even for a moment. Thus, one who exercises his free choice correctly is reveling in the Presence of HaShem, whereas one who does not make correct choices is deemed to be hidden from HaShem’s Presence. Proof of this idea that our actions are what is responsible for HaShem’s Presence in our lives is from a Medrash (Devarim Rabbah ), that states: HaShem said “Re’eh anochi nosein lifneichem hayom birachah ukelalah, see, I present before you today a blessing and a curse,” and from that time onward, (Eichah 3:38) mipi elyon lo seitzei haraos vihatov, is it not from the mouth of the Most High that evil and good emanate? The simple translation of this verse is that the prophet is asking, do you think that evil and good do not emanate from HaShem? The Medrash, however, interprets this verse in a matter of fact form, i.e. that evil and good do no emanate from HaShem. How is it possible to even speculate that evil and good do not emanate from HaShem? The truth is, however, that we must realize that we are responsible for our actions and for the way that we perceive HaShem in our lives. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh (Shemos 6:2) goes so far as to say that the interpretation of the above-mentioned verse is that evil does not emanate from HaShem. Only good emanates from HaShem. The evil that is manifest in the world is a result of the actions of the wicked. We may struggle with the apparently contradictory ideas that HaShem knows what will occur in the future yet we are still given free choice in our actions. Nonetheless, we must be cognizant of the fact that HaShem has given us that free choice so that we can merit having a recognition of His Presence. There are area various levels of knowing HaShem, and on the Holy Shabbos HaShem bestows us with the level of daas, literally translated as knowledge. It is said (Shemos 31:13) viatah dabeir el bnei Yisroel leimor ach es Shabsosai tishmoru ki os hi beini uveineichem ledorseichem ladaas ki ani mikadishchem, now you speak to the Children of Israel, saying: ‘However, you must observe my Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I am HaShem, Who makes you holy.’ Hashem gives us a day of the week that is a semblance of the World to Come, when we will truly know HaShem. This day is Shabbos, and we must do everything possible to come to an awareness of HaShem’s Presence in our lives. We are now beginning the month of Elul, which is an acrostic for the words (Shir HaShirim 6:3) ani lidodi vidodi li, I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me. This is the month when we can come close to HaShem and feel His Presence in our midst. With the observance of the Holy Shabbos and all of HaShem’s beloved mitzvos, HaShem should grant us a month of inspiration and repentance, culminating in the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Composed by the Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria
Chadu sagi yeisei vial chada tartei nihorah lah yimtei uvirchaan dinfishin, abundant joy arrives, in place of one, a double measure. Brilliance will envelop the soul, and manifold blessings. This passage refers to the neshama yeseira, the extra soul that a Jew receives with the onset of Shabbos. On Shabbos we are blessed with an extra soul and extra joy. Hashem should allow us to experience the extra soul and to be truly joyous for the entire Shabbos.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Raah vihiskin tzuras halevanah, He saw and fashioned the form of the moon. What is the significance of this passage? We declare that HaShem fashioned the form of the moon, but what was the purpose in HaShem fashioning the moon? It is said (see Bach Ohr HaChaim 282, Tiferes Shlomo Vayishlach) that Yaakov Avinu is associated with the moon. Perhaps based on this kabalistic idea we can suggest that we are declaring that HaShem called to the sun, which represents Esav, as the gentile world is reflected by the solar calendar. To negate Esav’s influence in the world, HaShem fashioned the form of the moon, i.e. HaShem Himself watches over Yaakov to save him from the clutches of Esav. With this explanation we can understand why we say that HaShem saw. It is said (Bereishis 1:4-5) vayar Elokim es haor ki tov vayavdeil Elokim bain haor uvein hachoshech vayikra Elokim laor yom vilachosech kara laylah vayehi erev vayehi voker yom echod, G-d saw that the light was good, and G-d separated between the light and the darkness. G-d called to the light: “Day,” and to the darkness He called: “ Night.” And there was evening and there was morning, one day. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 2:3) states that when it states that HaShem called the light “Day,” this refers to Yaakov, and when it states that HaShem called darkness “Night,” this refers to Esav. Following in the line of the Medrash, we can suggest that when we say that HaShem “saw” and fashioned the form of the moon, it is parallel to HaShem calling the original light “Day,” a reference to Yaakov. Although the Medrash interprets “Day” to be referring to Yaakov, and here we allude to Yaakov as the moon, the idea is that Esav represents darkness to the Jewish People. It is for this reason that we say that HaShem fashioned the form of the moon, i.e. despite the fact that Esav dominates in this world, in the future the light of Yaakov will shine when the entire world recognizes Hashem as the One G-d.
Another mosquito to swat at! Would he have any ears left a month from now? Wondered Robert Burns. He never had enjoyed hot weather, even in Bayside,
Shabbos in Navi
In this chapter we learn how the Plishtim decided to send the Aron, the Holy Ark, back to its place amongst the Jewish People. They sent the Aron back along with five golden images of hemorrhoids and five golden mice. The Radak writes that they did this because when the people would relieve themselves, the mice would attack the bleeding hemorrhoids. They sent the Aron and the golden images on a new wagon that was drawn by two nursing cows. They then sent the calves of the cows back home, and if the nursing cows would forsake their calves and follow the Aron, it would be a clear sign that HaShem wanted the Aron back. The Plishtim then sent the Aron on the wagon drawn by the nursing cows on the direct road, on the road to Beit Shemesh, and the cows drew the Aron to Beit Shemesh. The people of Beit Shemesh saw the Aron coming, and because they gazed disrespectfully at the Aron, thousands of people died. The people of Beit Shemesh were distressed by the deaths of their citizens, so they sent a message to the inhabitants of Kiryas Yearim to take the Aron to their city. In describing the journey of the cows, it is said (Shmuel I 6:12) vayisharnah haparos baderech, the cows set out on the direct road. The Gemara (Avodah Zara 24b) interprets the word vayisharnah as a term of song, meaning that the cows turned towards the Aron and sang praises to HaShem. This was truly an incredible event. The people of Beit Shemesh, because of their disrespect that they displayed towards the Aron, were killed, whereas the cows sang HaShem’s praises because they intrinsically recognized the sanctity of the Aron. Regarding Shabbos we know that one who properly observes the Shabbos will be greatly rewarded. The converse, however, is also true. One who disrespects the Shabbos will be severely punished. It behooves us to learn from the cows who, upon recognizing HaShem’s Presence near them, sang HaShem’s praises. We too should recognize the holiness of Shabbos and engage in prayer, Torah study, and praising HaShem.
Shabbos in Agadah
The Imrei Emes, the Gerrer Rebbe, writes (Bashalach 5693) that the Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that had the Jewish People only observed the first Shabbos in the Wilderness, no race or nation could have assailed them. This is derived from the fact that it is said (Shemos 16:27) vayehi bayom hashevii yatzu min ham lilkot vilo matzau, it happened on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, and they did not find. Further on it is said (Ibid 17:8) vayavo Amalek vayilachem im Yisroel biRefidim, Amalek came and battled
Shabbos in Halacha
Any appliance that one normally uses for cooking requires a blech i.e. a covering to allow returning. Thus, ovens require an insert and one must line crockpots and adjustable hotplates with aluminum foil. [It is preferable that the knobs be covered]. A non-adjustable hot-plate that cannot be used for cooking and is only used to keep food warm does not require a blech. A non-adjustable crockpot, however, does require a blech, as this is generally used for cooking.
In the zemer of Askinu Seudasa on Friday night we recite the words chadu sagi yeisei vial chada tartei nihorah lah yimtei uvirchaan dinfishin, abundant joy arrives, in place of one, a double measure. Brilliance will envelop the soul, and manifold blessings. The Imrei Emes (Bashalach 5693) writes that this means that through the joy the light is doubled, as in Kisvei Arizal it is brought that the word sichok, laughter (414), is in gematria double the word ohr, light (207).
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Re’eh 5768
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Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos and may we merit this year the speedy arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu bimheira viyameinu amen.
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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