Shabbos in the Parashah
In this week’s parashah it is said (Bamidbar 11:4) vihasafsuf asher bikirbo hisaavu tavaah vayashuvu vayivku gam bnei yisroel vayomru mi yaachileinu basar, the rabble that was among them cultivated a craving, and the Children of Israel also wept once more, and said, “Who will feed us meat?” One of the major subjects of discussion regarding the Book of Bamidbar is, how could the dor deah, the generation that witnessed so many open miracles, succumb to base desires of craving meat and other physical delights? They received the manna daily, and they attained unsurpassed spiritual levels. How is it that they quarreled with Moshe regarding such trivial matters as meat and water? Although every mortal requires food and drink to live, is it possible that they simply had a lack of faith every time they were lacking material needs?
While one would be required to write many pages to even begin scratching the surface of this topic, I would like to suggest a novel approach to the incident regarding the Jewish People’s request for meat. The Medrash understands the word asafsuf to mean rabble, i.e. the Egyptians who had joined the Jewish People. It was this group that influenced the Jewish People to complain and declare that they preferred Egyptian slavery to the Presence of G-d. One must wonder, however, why the Torah uses such a unique word to describe a group of sinners and deviants. Would it not have sufficed to state that the am, the nation, cultivated a craving.
I would like to suggest a novel interpretation of this verse, which although is certainly not the simple meaning of the verse, but when explained in the following context, we can gain an appreciation for the generation that sojourned in the Wilderness. The Kedushas Levi (Shavuos) writes that the Gemara (Sanhedrin 108a) states that the Generation of the Wilderness forfeited their share in the World to Come. The reason for this, the Kedushas Levi writes, is because the desire of the Jewish People is for the World to Come. This desire is not for physical pleasure. Rather, the Jewish People desire to attain an understanding of HaShem’s greatness, and this is normally impossible to attain in this world. The Generation of the Wilderness, however, witnessed miracles by the Sea and at Sinai, which essentially obviated any need for them to earn a share in the World to Come. Based on the premise of the Kedushas Levi, we can interpret our verse to mean as follows: vihasafsuf asher bikirbo hisaavu tavaah, The Jewish People, who are always aspiring to reach higher levels of spirituality, desired that they witness what awaited them in the World to Come. Regarding the verse that states (Bamidbar 11:5) zacharnu es hadagah asher nochal bimitzrayim chinam, we remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge, Rashi writes: the word free cannot be interpreted literally, as the Egyptians did not even give the Jews straw for free. Rather, the verse means that the Jews declared that they were seeking freedom from the mitzvos. How is this meant to be understood? Is it possible that a little less than a year before they had received the Torah on Har Sinai and declared that they will do and they will listen, and now they reneged on their commitment to serving HaShem? Perhaps the idea is that they were seeking to attain a semblance of the World to Come, where there will be no mitzvah performance, as at that time we will all have a true understanding of HaShem.
It is noteworthy that the word asafsuf is similar to Yosef, who reflects Tosefes Shabbos, adding on to Shabbos. Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come (Brachos 57b) and it would follow that one should aspire to delight in Shabbos as much as possible. One accepts Shabbos prior to the onset of Shabbos, and throughout the Shabbos he continues to ascend the spiritual ladder. The Shabbos culminates with Shalosh Seudos, known in Kabbalah as the raavah diraavin, the will of wills, which is a time of great desire and closeness to HaShem. May it be HaShem’s will that we merit a share of the World to Come in this world and in the next world, when it will be a day that is entirely Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Composed by the Kabbalists of the seventeenth century
Barchuni leshalom malachei haShalom malachei elyon mimelech Malchei haMelachim HaKadosh baruch Hu, bless me for peace, O angels of peace, angels of the Exalted One, from the King Who reigns over kings, The Holy One, Blessed is He. This passage is a subject of controversy, as Rabbi Yaakov Emden, Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner and others opposed the recitation of this request. Their rationale was that angels do not have the power to bestow blessing on man, and furthermore, it is forbidden to pray to angels. Others, however, maintain that we are merely seeking the recognition of the angels who will testify that we have properly prepared for Shabbos. Alternatively, we are asking the angels to extend their good wishes before departing from us.
It is noteworthy that the word barchuni consists of the letters beis, reish, and chaf, and the last letters vav, nun, and yud equal 66 in gematria. The Baal HaTuirm (Devarim 21:17) writes that the letters beis, reish, and chaf in the word bechor, firstborn, are all doubled, as beis, which is 2, is double 1, chaf, which is 20, is double 10, and reish, which is 200, is double 100. This idea can be extended to the word baruch, blessing, which is spelled with the letters beis, chaf and reish. Baruch denotes that everything is double. We know that on Shabbos everything is double (Shochar Tov 92:1). Thus, we request that the angels bless us that we should merit the double blessings of Shabbos. Furthermore, we allude to the idea that is mentioned in the Zohar that the six days of the week draw their blessing from Shabbos. This is alluded to in the letters vav, nun, and yud that equal 66 in gematria, as 6 reflects the days of the week, and one who observes Shabbos properly will be blessed that even the six days of the week will be doubly blessed.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Al kol divrei shiros visishbachos Dovid ben Yishai avdecho mishichecho, even beyond all expressions of the songs and praises of Dovid, the son of Yishai, Your servant, Your anointed. Why do we declare that we are required to surpass even the songs of Dovid HaMelech? The answer to this question can be found in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 92b) that stets that Nevuchadnezzar sought to degrade all the praises of Dovid HaMelech until an angel came and slapped Nevuchadnezzar on his mouth to prevent him from doing so.
The Sefer Kol Mevaser (Volume II) explains that in reality, it is impossible for one to praise HaShem, as HaShem is above all blessings and praise. Nonetheless, HaShem confined Himself, so to speak, in the Torah, and through the Torah one can sing the praises of HaShem. Thus, Nevuchadnezzar, who was a gentile, was not capable of singing HaShem’s praises. We can now better understand why we are obligated to praise HaShem even beyond the praises of Dovid HaMelech. It is an obligation upon every Jew to capitalize on this opportunity where HaShem confines Himself in the Torah so we can attain a semblance of understanding His greatness.
It was Friday morning on Rechov Yosef Ben Mattityahu. Shabbos was soon arriving and the streets were buzzing with activity. Girls would take their younger brothers to learn Torah, an elderly woman was carrying a fish with its tail still flapping in a plastic basket. Housewives would still be rushing to market to choose chicken or fresh vegetables in honor of the Holy Shabbos. Amongst all the activity, two yeshivah boys were surprised to see the great Sephardic Chacham, Rabbi Ezra Attiah. They were used to seeing him carrying a sefer, and they were shocked to see the distinguished Rosh HaYeshiva carrying two heavy trays of cookies. In those dire times most families could not even afford an oven. Rather, they did their cooking on a small kerosene stove known as a “primus” and they brought their baked goods to then local baker’s oven. One of those boys was Rabbi Naim Ben Eliyahu. Many years later he recalled the moment: “we were shocked. We stood on the side and we did not know if we should offer to help him, because he was doing it honor of Shabbos. My friend, however, could not bear witnessing such a thing. He ran to our teacher and said, ‘Chacham Ezra! Give me one of those.’ ‘You may take one.’ ‘My friend took a tray in his hand, and Rabbi Ezra, our teacher, said to him, ‘I said one, not the entire tray.’ “Our teacher assumed that his student was merely asking for a cookie,” Rabbi Naim ended his story. “It never occurred to him that we wanted to help with the tray. That was how he honored the Shabbos-from the start to the finish, with his own hands-and that was his great humility.”
Shabbos in History
When HaShem created the world, He instructed the earth to produce trees that taste like their fruits. The earth, however, disobeyed. The only trees that followed the commandment were the esrog tree and the pepper bush. The Medrash states that HaShem rewarded the esrog by including it in the mitzvah of lulav on Sukkos. The pepper bush was rewarded that every dish that is served on Shabbos contains pepper seasoning (Hashavas Noam HaNeshamos).
The Mishnah discusses a case of questionable betrothal or divorce. The Medrash states that HaShem said that the mate for Shabbos is the Jewish People. There are often times when one is confronted with a halachic situation on Shabbos where he is uncertain how to act. It is incumbent upon one to study the laws of Shabbos weekly so that he will not be in doubt. This clarity of the law will enhance his observance of Shabbos. It is noteworthy that there are twenty-four chapters in Maseches Shabbos, and a bride is adorned with twenty-four ornaments that are enumerated in the Book of Yeshaya (Chapter 3).
Shabbos in Halacha
We have learned previously that soluble foods such as coffee should not be dissolved in hot liquids that are in a kli rishon, despite the fact that they have already been cooked. One can dissolve such pre-cooked foods in a kli sheini. Thus, one can dissolve instant coffee, sugar and salt, all of which have already been cooked during factory processing, in hot liquids that are in a kli sheini.
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
It is said (Shemos 31:17) shavas vayenafash, He rested and was refreshed, and the Gemara (Beitzah 16a) interprets this to mean vay avdah nefesh, woe that upon the exit of Shabbos, the soul is lost. It is noteworthy that the word nefesh in at bash is tov, which refers to Shabbos, as we say in the Shabbos prayers sabeinu mituvecha, satiate us from Your goodness. Thus, when Shabbos comes to an end, we must wait until the following Shabbos to receive that goodness.
[Correction from last week: The word meiaz in mispar katan equals twelve.]
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