Shabbos in the Parashah
In this week’s parashah the Torah discusses the tragic incident where Moshe was instructed by HaShem to speak to a rock that would subsequently give forth water for the Jewish People, and Moshe mistakenly hit the rock. Although the Jewish People ultimately had water to drink, HaShem deemed this act to be an error on Moshe’s part and he and Aharon were punished that they were not granted entry into Eretz Yisroel. The commentators offer numerous explanations regarding how Moshe sinned and why Aharon was implicated. I would like to focus, however, on the verse that summarizes the incident. It is said (Bamidbar 20:13) heimah mei mirivah asher ravu bnei yisroel es HaShem vayikadeish bum, they are the waters of strife, where the Children of Israel contended with HaShem, and He was sanctified through them. Why is it necessary for the Torah to recap the incident, especially if on the surface what transpired was not deemed an honor for Moshe or the Jewish People? Let us examine the word vayikadeish, and He was sanctified, and we will gain a deeper insight into this incident and into the purpose of creation in general. How does HaShem become sanctified? Rashi writes here and elsewhere (Vayikra 10:3) that when HaShem metes out justice to His sanctified ones, He become feared and sanctified. HaShem is referred to as kadosh, holy, yet in a sense, HaShem needs to become sanctified through his beloved ones. Similarly, we recite in the Friday night prayers, atah kidashta es yom hashevii lishmecho tachlis maasei shamayim vaartez, You sanctified the seventh day for Your Name’s sake, the conclusion of the creation of heaven and earth. Shabbos is the conclusion and pinnacle of creation. Shabbos is sanctified, yet HaShem requires of us that we sanctify the Shabbos through words and through actions. When one eats food on Shabbos, he should recite the words lekavod Shabbos kodesh, this is for the honor of the Holy Shabbos. This is not merely an incantation or symbolic utterance. When one performs actions that demonstrate his affinity towards the holiness of Shabbos, he has fulfilled the purpose of creation. It is for this reason that the Gemara states (Shabbos 119b) that whoever prays on Friday night and recites vayechulu, Scripture treats him as if he had becomes a partner to the Holy One, Blessed is He, in the act of creation, as the verse states vayechulu, and they-the heaven and earth-were finished. Do not read this as vayechulu (and they were finished) but as vayechulu (and they-the Creator and the reciter finished). The purpose of creation is to sanctify HaShem’s Name, and when one recites vayechulu, he attests to the creation of the world, thus sanctifying HaShem and the Shabbos. The Zohar states that Shabbos is the Name of Hashem, so when one sanctifies the Shabbos, he is in a sense sanctifying HaShem’s Name.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Adapted from Bereishis 48:20, Bamidbar 6:24-26
Yivarechecho HaShem viyishmirecho, may HaShem bless you and safeguard you. The Sfas Emes writes that the word Bracha is derived from the word rachav, which means to graft. Thus, when one blesses HaShem, he is declaring that he is one with HaShem. The purpose of Shabbos is to become one with HaShem, as those who pray Nusach Sefard on Friday evening recite in the prayer of Kegavna, raza diShabbos ihi Shabbos diisachadas beraza diechod limishrei alah raza diechod, this is the secret of the Shabbos: She [Kingship] is called Shabbos when She becomes united in the secret of Oneness so that G-d’s Oneness may rest upon her. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:8) states that of all the days of the week, only Shabbos was left without a mate, so HaShem gave the Jewish People as a mate for Shabbos. It is thus appropriate that we commence our blessings on Shabbos with the word Yivarechecho, may HaShem bless you, implying that we should merit being one with HaShem and with Shabbos.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Ki lecho naeh HaShem Elokeinu vElokei avoseinu, because for You is fitting-O HaShem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers. We are about to embark on reciting a litany of expressions that praise HaShem. We introduce these expressions of praise by stating that the praises are befitting HaShem. It is perplexing why we introduce the praises of HaShem with this preamble, as if we have to justify why we are praising HaShem. We make a similar declaration at the end of Hallel, when we recite the words ki lecho tov lehodos ulishimcho naeh lizameir, for to You it is fitting to give thanks, and unto Your Name it is proper to sing praises. Perhaps the idea is that praising HaShem is not difficult, as most people in the world acknowledge HaShem’s power at one point or another. It is the Jewish People, however, who recognize that it is fitting to praise HaShem and only we can praise HaShem with these expressions of praise. Rather than just declaring the words “praise the Lord” or the like, we demonstrate that it is befitting to praise HaShem with shir and shevach and all forms of praise.
Dozens of Beis Yosef Yeshivos were spread across Europe. Each yeshiva was run according to the regulations firmly determined by the Alter of Novardok, but the war scattered them and forced them to wander. In many places, the Communists sent the bnei yeshiva (yeshiva students) to Siberia. One of the exiled, who became a pillar of the exiled, was Reb Yehuda Leib Nekritz. He and his family were sent on a long, difficult journey that ended in a small village in Siberia. Amazing stories about his mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice) for Torah and mitzvos were created there. A chapter from the sefer, Lev HaAri is quoted below, describing his stay in Siberia: One of the group, R’ Chaim from Korov, describes Reb Yehuda Leib’s mesiras nefesh when he dared ask the NKVD officer to give them Shabbos as a day of rest. He relates, “When we reached Nizshna-Machavei, our first thought was, ‘How will we keep Shabbos?’ We were afraid to ask, because even for such a request, they could-and would-send us to a prison camp from which no one returns. They would threaten everyone to such an extent that no one would even dare ask for a lighter work load. Reb Yehuda Leib was the first one who dared to raise the issue in public. He not only suggested, but also arranged and fought to keep Shabbos. He explained to them, ‘We were educated in religious schools. We understand that we must seriously work hard, but we also have to keep Shabbos and yom tov.’ “Reb Yehuda Leib put himself in great danger, even though he had a wife and two small children. He risked his life first, but then we stood behind him and did not leave him. It is possible, that if we had asked a rov and posek, he would have told us that it is a matter of pikuach nefesh (life or death) in this land of gezeiros (decrees) and because we were forced, it would be permissible to be mechalel Shabbos (desecrate the Shabbos). [As it turned out,] our group was an exception (from the prison camps and Mekalchazim); we did not work on Shabbos.” HaRav Yaakov Pasternak from Lutz, a rav in Brooklyn, spoke about this matter. “One night, there was a sudden knock on our doors, and all the exiled bnei Torah (Torah students) were taken to the office. A commander from the central NKVD in Moscow spoke to us, urging us to forget our past because we will be here until we die. The Communist slogan was, ‘He who does not work does not eat.’ We were supposed to work from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week. After the man finished speaking, Reb Yehuda Leib zt”l stood at the head of the group and said, ‘We will not work on Shabbos.’ “The commander could not believe his ears. ‘You do not understand where you are. Besides that, it is a time of emergency now, a world war. People are being killed on the battlefield-and you dare ask for such things?’ “It took a lot of mesiras nefesh to withstand this nisoyon (test). We felt that we were in their hands; they could do whatever they wanted with us. We skinny, weak men were facing the mighty Soviet Union. It was only thanks to Reb Yehuda Leib and his great bitochon (trust in HaShem ) and the strength from learning mussar that he instilled into us, that were we able to withstand the nisoyon. “In the end, we worked out the issue of Shabbos internally, and only Friday night remained a problem. Yom Tov did not even occur to them. In reality, ‘their mouths spoke falsehood,’ and as time went on the pressure to work on Shabbos got stronger again. There were times that we were forced to wake up before sunrise on Shabbos to run away and hide in the forest. “One Motzai Shabbos, after we had avoided work the entire day, we went to the guards and told them that we could work now to make up for Shabbos. The Russian, who understood the matter, said, ‘Yes, when the sun rolls under the ball of the earth, you also come rolling around with it.’ He said no more and was quiet. It seems they commanded him not to bother us too much. “On erev Shabbos at shekiah (sunset), the nisyonos (tests) began. The problem was how to avoid work. The NKVD commanders who guarded us accused us of not filling our quota, of being lazy about carrying out the government’s plans, whether for produce in the field or chopping trees for weapons for the rifle stocks. We devised a solution: We would plan an “accident” that would force us to stop working. For example, we loaded up the wagon with bundles of produce and then caused the wagon to overturn. We screamed as if we were wounded, no one answered, and when darkness fell, we got up and left. “Another example: Reb Shlomo Faiga started to scream, ‘My head, my head.’ When they brought him the thermometer, he rubbed it and it went up higher than forty-two degrees. Thus, he was spared from chillul Shabbos. Each one of us found another excuse, and in the end we did not have to be mechalel Shabbos even once. This was all due to Reb Yehuda Leib’s powerful influence and tremendous chizuk (strengthening) at all times.”
Shabbos in History
The Sfas Emes would often say he envied businessmen. “I am jealous of the daf of Gemara that merchants learn on Shabbos. Throughout the week the businessman is busy with his affairs and cannot find time to learn. But on Shabbos Kodesh, when he opens up the Gemara, he invariably learns with great enthusiasm.”
The Gemara discusses the concept of maamar, the betrothal that a yavam performs with a yevamah. Why is the betrothal of a yavam referred to as maamar whereas the betrothal to an ordinary woman is referred to as kiddushin? At a siyum on Maseches Yevamos, the Bais Aharon of Karlin expounded on this perplexity. Marriage is referred to as kiddushin, because the word kiddushin is derived from the word hekdesh, which means a consecration. When one consecrates an item, he is essentially prohibiting anyone outside of hekdesh to have benefit from this item. Similarly, when one is mekadesh a woman, the woman is now permitted to her future husband and is prohibited to the rest of the world. A yevamah, however, is different, as she was previously married to a man and was thus prohibited from marrying anyone else. When her husband died childless, she is now a yevamah and is prepared for either the act of yibum or chalitzah. Nonetheless, she is still forbidden to marry anyone else. The act of the yavam betrothing her cannot be referred to as kiddushin because she was previously forbidden to everyone. Rather, the betrothal is referred to as maamar because the essence of yibum is that the surviving brother should perpetuate the name of the deceased. In a sense, Yibum is a resurrection of the deceased brother. Maamar is the word of Hashem that brings the dead back to life as it is written (Kesubos 8b, Friday night prayers): mechayeh meisim bimaamoro, He resurrects the dead with His utterance. Thus, the betrothal of the yevamah is referred to as maamar, because maamar is similar to HaShem resurrecting the Dead. In a similar vein, the Bais Aharon said that it is well known that Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come (Brachos 57b). For this reason we recite in the zemiros of Shabbos the words: tehorim yiroshuha vikadshuha bimaamar kol asher asah vayechal Elokim bayom hashevii milacahto asher asa, pure ones bequeath it and hallow it with the statement-‘All that He had made… ‘on the Seventh Day G-d completed His work which He had done.’ The word maamar alludes to the World to Come. (Adapted with permission from Daf Notes, an advanced forum for those who study the Daf Yomi www.dafnotes.blogspot.com)
Shabbos in Halacha
There are certain foods that are so sensitive to heat that they can even become cooked in a kli shelishi. Examples of these foods are tea leaves, eggs and extremely salty fish which cannot be eaten because of its saltiness. It is thus forbidden to heat these items by pouring on them the liquids of a kli sheini or by immersing them in a kli shelishi.
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
In the Mussaf prayers on Shabbos we recite the words tikanta Shabbos, You established the Shabbos. The word tikanta in mispar katan, digit sum, equals 15, and 1+5=6. This alludes to the idea that one should prepare all six days of the week for Shabbos, and the word tikanta can also mean to prepare, from the root word heichin.
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Chukas 5767
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos.
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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