Shabbos in the Parashah
This Shabbos is Parashas Bereishis, when we commence the cycle of the Torah reading. Prior to Bereishis we have Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, and there is a time-honored tradition to connect the end of V’Zos Habracha to the beginning of Bereishis. The Torah ends off with the following verses (Devarim 34:11-12) velo kam navi od biYisroel kiMoshe asher yidao HaShem panim el panim lechol haosos vihamofsim asher shilacho HaShem lassos bieretz Mitzrayim liPharaoh ulechol avadav ulechol artzo ulechol hayad hachazakah ulechol hamora hagadol asher asah Moshe lieieni kol Yisroel, never again has there arisen in Israel a prophet like Moshe, whom HaShem had known face to face, as evidenced by all the signs and wonders that HaShem sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his courtiers and all his land, and by all the strong hand and awesome power that Moshe performed before the eyes of all Israel. Rashi explains that these verses refer to Moshe accepting the Luchos from HaShem and subsequently breaking them upon witnessing the Golden Calf that the Jewish People had created. One has to wonder why the Torah would choose to mention this episode as the conclusion of the Torah. Would it not be fitting to conclude with an incident that depicts the Jewish People in a positive light? The Sifri actually lists other miracles, such as the slaying of the first born Egyptians, the splitting of the sea, and the giving of the Torah. I would like to suggest an idea based on what I found to be a fascinating insight into Shabbos written by Rabbi Pinchos Winston on www.torah.org. Rabbi Winston explains that HaShem, so to speak, hides Himself in nature, yet, this goes against HaShem’s “nature”, so hiding is deemed by HaShem to be “work.” Shabbos, however, is when HaShem rested, so to speak, from this “work,” and revealed His Presence to us, thus allowing Shabbos to be a day of eternity. Using this premise, we can understand why Rashi writes that the Torah concludes with Moshe breaking the Luchos. When the Jewish People created the Golden Calf, they caused in a sense that HaShem should hide His Presence from the Jewish People. The Gemara (Eiruvin 54a) states that prior to the Luchos being broken, there was no concept of one forgetting the Torah that one studied. This is akin to HaShem hiding Himself, as the Jewish People, the Torah and HaShem are all one, so if HaShem chose to conceal His Presence from us, He also was required to conceal somewhat the light of Torah from us. Although Moshe breaking the Luchos appeared to be catastrophic, the Torah provides the antidote with Bereishis, where HaShem created the Original Light. When HaShem saw that the wicked would not be deserving of this great light, HaShem hid the light for the World to Come. Nonetheless, on Shabbos and Yom Tov this light is revealed. We are thus very fortunate to have Shabbos and Yom Tov, when we are keenly aware of the Divine Presence. The Zohar states that on Shabbos, Moshe returns the crowns that the Jewish People forfeited upon worshipping the Golden Calf. Apparently, the crowns reflect the light that was lost when the Jewish People fashioned the Golden Calf, and it is through the Holy Shabbos that we gain back that great light. Hashem should bless us that we merit the great light that is contained within Shabbos and Yom Tov, and we should merit the light of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Ribbon kol HaOlamim
Published in 5401 (1641)
Melech kabir, King Who is powerful. How do we sense HaShem’s power? The obvious way to perceive HaShem’s power is by witnessing a thunder storm or any other “natural” occurrence. I would like to suggest a different answer, based on what I recently read in a Sefer called Pe’er Yashar from Dr. Peter Rosenzweig from Chicago. He quotes there an amazing insight into HaShem’s humility. The Gemara (Megillah 31a) states that wherever you find the greatness of HaShem, there you find His humility. One must wonder, then, where in the beginning of the Torah that describes HaShem creating the world do we find HaShem’s humility? His greatens is obvious, as He created the world with Ten Utterances, but where is His humility? Dr. Rosenzweig writes that the Torah does not state Elokim bara Bereishis, HaShem created the world. Rather, it is said Bereishis bara Elokim, in the beginning HaShem created the world. Thus, HaShem did not mention His Name as the first word in the Torah. This truly reflects HaShem’s humility. Most authors commence their writings with a description of who they are or why they wrote the book. HaShem in His humility chose to “shun the limelight” and He did not write His Name as the first word in the Torah.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Habocheir bishirei zimrah, Who chooses musical songs of praise. What is the message contained within this praise of HaShem? Why is HaShem great because He chooses musical praises? Perhaps the answer to this question can be found in the High Holiday liturgy, where we contrast the praise that the angels offer HaShem and the praise that HaShem receives from the Jewish People. Although we are human beings and are prone to sin, HaShem still prefers our praises over the praises of the angels. Thus, we praise HaShem as being the One Who chooses musical songs of praise, because we are grateful to HaShem that He praises our songs and praises over the songs and praises of the angels.
So much of life is being in the right place at the right time or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Sadigerer Rebbe had to be in Vienna on Shabbos Parshas Zachor, March 12, 1938. That was a very inopportune Shabbos to be in Vienna. On that Friday the brown shirted Nazis marched into Vienna and ransacked Jewish homes. Subsequently, the Nazis invaded Vienna and that was the beginning of the end for Viennese Jewry. [Ironically, the famous Reichman Family was also in Vienna in 1938. That Shabbos was supposed to be the Bar Mitzvah of the eldest brother Edward Reichman. Unfortunately-or at least what they thought was unfortunate at the time-Mrs. Reichman’s father who still lived in Hungary (in Beled) had a stroke. They wanted very much that the grandfather should be at the Bar Mitzvah, but he was in no condition to travel to Vienna. So the week before the Bar Mitzvah the Reichman family with three of their children left Vienna to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah in Hungary. Samuel Reichman (the father) never stepped foot in Vienna again. That is how he was able to make it out of Europe. He fortuitously happened to be in Hungary.] The Sadigerer Rebbe had no such luck. The brown shirted Nazis zeroed in on every prominent Jew they could find. They grabbed Jews out of cabs out of shuls, out of every place they could find them. They captured the Sadigerer Rebbe. This is the background to the story I want to tell. I will relate what happened to him very soon. Years later, Reb Chatzkel Besser visited Tel Aviv. Early one morning, he was walking into the shteibel of the Sadigerer Rebbe. He noticed the Jewish street cleaner sweeping the street and the sidewalk on the block of the shteibel. When the street cleaner reached the sidewalk immediately in front of the shteibel, he stopped sweeping, walked past the shul, and then resumed his cleaning operation on the next block. Reb Chatzkel Besser sensed anti-religious discrimination here and went over to the street cleaner and objected. “What is wrong with this piece of sidewalk?” The street cleaner responded, “HaRebbe lo noten reshus.” (The Rebbe does not allow me to sweep there.) Reb Chatzkel Besser did not believe him and repeated his question to which the street cleaner repeated the same answer. He thought the street cleaner was making up the story or just being lazy. He went into the Rebbe and asked him directly, “Why will the street cleaner not sweep in front of your shteibel?” The Rebbe put him off and did not give him a straight answer. This was Friday morning. He kept badgering the Rebbe Friday night, Shabbos morning, Shabbos afternoon: “What does it mean ‘HaRebbe lo noten reshus’?” At the end of Shabbos the Rebbe explained the true story to his guest. When he was in Vienna that Shabbos in March 1938 the Nazis took him and dressed him up in one of the uniforms of the street cleaners of Vienna and they gave him a tiny little broom. They placed him by the steps of the Vienna Opera House and ordered him to clean every step. Of course, this was a humiliating experience for the Rebbe. He was wearing one of those little street cleaner’s caps and essentially holding a tooth brush, cleaning the massive steps of the Vienna landmark. He related that at that moment he made a “deal” with the Ribbono shel Olam. He said, “Master of the Universe, if You help me escape from here I promise You I will sweep the streets of Eretz Yisrael.” He made it out and he kept his promise. When he arrived in Eretz Yisrael and set up a shteibel there, he accepted upon himself that he would not let anyone sweep outside his shteibel-he would do it himself. Every day, he would sweep the sidewalk in front of his shul because of the deal he made with the Almighty, in the tradition of Yaakov Avinu.
Shabbos in Navi
Yehoshua Chapter 5
In this chapter it is said that that all the nations in the Land of Canaan heard that HaShem had dried up the waters of the Jordan River and they were all afraid of the Jewish People. At that time HaShem instructed Yehoshua that he should circumcise the Jewish People a second time as the Jews in the Wilderness had not had circumcision performed to them. The Jewish People the camped in Gilgal and they celebrated Pesach there on the fourteenth of Nissan. The manna then ceased to fall and that year the Jewish People ate from the grain of the Land of Canaan. It is noteworthy that upon entering Eretz Yisroel, the Jewish People celebrated Pesach which is referred to as Shabbos, and the manna ceased to fall from heaven. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:2) states that the blessing and sanctity of Shabbos is reflected in the manna, which fell in a double portion on Friday and did not fall on Shabbos. The blessing of Shabbos is both in the bounty and in the lack of work. One must delight in the Shabbos, as the Zohar states that the blessing of the six days of the week has its source in the Holy Shabbos. Yet, one must desist from work on Shabbos, so that the blessing of Shabbos can have its effect on the weekday. Many Jews have experienced the rewards of their sustenance being provided for when they observe Shabbos properly. We should merit that all of the Jewish People observe one Shabbos properly, and then Moshiach will arrive, and our work will be performed by others.
The Gemara states that one who kills an animal on Shabbos will be liable the death penalty and will be exempt from monetary compensation. Shabbos is unique from all the days of the week. The holiness of the day requires us to be aware of the ramifications if we were heaven forbid to violate the day. Hashem should allow us to be knowledgeable in the laws of Shabbos so that we can observe the Shabbos properly.
Shabbos in Halacha
One cannot add baked croutons (soup nuts) to a pot of soup (kli rishon) or to a bowl (kli sheini) into which the soup was poured. If a ladle was used to transfer the soup, however, one can add croutons to the bowl. One is also allowed to put croutons in a bowl and pour soup on them with a ladle. The same law is true for challah or matzah. [Deep-fried croutons can be added directly to the pot or bowl.]
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
It is said (Bereishis 2:1) Vayechal Elokim bayom hashevii melachto asher asah, by the seventh day Hashem completed His work which He had done. The word vayechal in mispar katan, digit sum, equals twelve, and this alludes to the amount of times that Shabbos is mentioned in the Torah.
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim V’Zos Habracha-Bereishis 5768
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos, and a superb Yom Tov
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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