Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Toldos 5768

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Toldos 5768

Shabbos in the Parashah

In this week’s parashah it is said (Breishis 25:25-26) vayeitzei harishon admoni kulo kiaderes seiar vayikriu shemo Esav veacharei chein yazta achiv viyado ochezes baakeiv Esav vayikra shemo Yaakov viYitzchak ben shishim shanah biledes osam, the first one emerged red, entirely like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esav. After that his brother emerged with his hand grasping on to the heel of Esav; so he called his name Yaakov; Yitzchak was sixty years old when she bore them. There are a number of difficulties with these verses. First, why does the Torah describe Esav’s complexion whereas regarding Yaakov the Torah merely states that he was grasping on to his brother’s heel? Second, what is the significance of the fact that Yitzchak was sixty years old when she bore them? Rashi writes that this teaches us the chronology of events that led up to Yitzchak feeling the need to pray on Rivkah’s behalf. Yet, it would seem that this detail should have been mentioned prior to the birth of Yaakov and Esav and not after. The answer to these questions is that the Torah is teaching us a very profound lesson that truly defines the difference between Yaakov and Esav and thus offers us a perspective on how we should conduct ourselves in our daily lives. We find that the number sixty is a sign of strength, as it is said (Shir HaShirim 3:7) hinei mitaso sheliShlomo shishim giborim saviv lah, behold the resting place of Him to Whom peace belongs, with sixty myriads of Israel’s mighty encircling it. Yet, the number sixty, or more specifically, the letter samach, which equals sixty in numerical value, represents the Evil Inclination. This idea is reflected in the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 17:6) that states that the first samach that is used in the Torah is regarding the creation of the woman, and the Medrash states: the woman was created along with the Satan. This means that the woman has the power to tempt man to sin. Thus, sixty reflects a dichotomy of both good and evil. Yaakov and Esav represent two opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum. Esav, defined as done, was born complete. The Gemara (Niddah 16b) states that although it is decided prior to the birth of a child whether he will be strong or weak, smart or foolish, rich or poor, it is not predestined whether one will be righteous or wicked. Esav certainly was pre-disposed to wickedness, as is evidenced from the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 63:6) that states that when Rivka passed by a house of idolatry, Esav attempted to exit. Nonetheless, Esav had the choice to submit himself to the service of HaShem by aiding Yaakov. Esav, however, was complacent with his role in life, and he is aptly depicted as one who was born red. The color red reflects the pre-disposition to murder, which can be channeled towards the occupation of slaughter of animals or that one becomes a Mohel (see Gemara Shabbos 156a), performing circumcision on Jewish infants. Esav willingly chose to remain with his proclivity to murder, and the Torah depicts him as such. Yaakov, however, was grasping onto the heel of Esav. The Torah states (Devarim 7:12) vehayah eikev tishmiun es hamishpatim haeileh, this shall be the reward when you hearken to the ordinances. Rashi (Ibid) quotes the Sifri that interprets the word eikev to mean heel. The Sifri states: if the commandments that one normally tramples with his heel you will observe. Esav was not interested in the details of the mitzvos, such as the prohibition of performing the service of HaShem while in a state of intoxication or being defiled from corpse tumah. Honoring his father was sufficient for Esav, and like the pig, as long as he was able to extend his hooves and declare himself Kosher, Esav did not yearn for more. Yaakov, on the other hand, would grasp at the heel of Esav, i.e. the details that Esav forsook. The word Yaakov essentially means the one who grasps the heel. After describing Esav’s physical attributes and Yaakov’s zealousness to perform HaShem’s will, the Torah then informs us that Yitzchak was sixty years old when she bore them, as the number sixty connotes both the highest and lowest levels of spirituality. In a similar vein, the Gemara (Eiruvin 100b) mentions a prohibition not to walk on grass on Shabbos, and this prohibition is derived from the verse that states (Mishlei 19:2) viatz biraglayim chotei, and he who quickens his feet [without reflection] is a sinner. Thus, we see that when one tramples in a thoughtless manner, he is deemed to be a sinner. Shabbos is not just an entity that embraces us whether we act or not. Shabbos is a time when one must study the laws relevant to the Holy Day and one must be completely engaged in its observance and in its delights. It is specifically for this reason that the Gemara (Shabbos 118a) states that one who delights in the Shabbos is granted a boundless heritage, the heritage of Yaakov. Given that Yaakov was preoccupied with the details related to serving HaShem, he was worthy of having the Shabbos called on his name as nachalas Yaakov, the heritage of Yaakov. HaShem should grant us the strength to observe all his commandments faithfully and with zealousness, and we will then merit the arrival of Moshiach and the day that will be completely Shabbos, and rest day for eternal life.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Ribbon kol HaOlamim

Published in 5401 (1641)

Melech oseh maasei vireishis, King Who sustains the world of creation. This statement is worth examining, as it would appear that we are declaring that HaShem created the world. Yet, the term oseh, in the present tense, connotes the idea that HaShem is constantly recreating the world. This thought should inspire us to avoid complacency and we should constantly strive to create new worlds through Torah study, mitzvah observance and good deeds.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Hakol yoducha vihakol yishabchucha vihakol yomru ain kadosh kaHaShem, all will thank You and all will praise You-and all will declare: ‘Nothing is as holy as HaShem!’ One must wonder why we are constantly declaring that there is none like HaShem. HaShem is the source of our very existence, so is it not obvious that there is no one like HaShem? Rav Dessler in Michtav MeiEliyahu writes that an arrogant person wishes to depose HaShem from His Heavenly Throne and set himself on it. Thus, it is highly probable that one can come to think, heaven forbid, that there is one like HaShem. The Rambam (Hilchos Deios 2:3) writes that one should completely distance himself from any form of arrogance. In order to ensure that one will never enter the realm of arrogance, he must constantly declare that there is nothing as Holy, Exalted, and Magnificent as HaShem.

Shabbos Story

Rabbi Yitzchak of Volozhin, the son of the great sage, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, used to appear before the great rulers of Russia to defend the Jews and nullify harsh decrees that were being issued constantly by enemies of the Jewish people. Once Rabbi Yitzchak led a delegation of Torah sages to the palace of the Russian Czar. When he entered, the Czar immediately turned to him and said, “I have a difficult question to ask you. I know that every Shabbos, Jewish people pray and bless the Czar that he should be well and succeed in all his wars. I’ve even asked one Jew to translate for me the text of this prayer. But now I know that all these things are just lip service, because this prayer is said by these same Jews in every country. If this is the case, what is the meaning of this prayer? I have had many long years of war with the German Emperor, and also in Germany the Jews are praying for the victory of their king, while those here are praying for the victory of their king! How can you resolve this contradiction?” Rabbi Yitzchak answered instantly with a smile. “Behold, your own mouth has stated that this prayer was translated for you, and you know well its contents. Of course, you must have noticed that the prayer starts with the words, ‘He Who makes a path in the sea, and in mighty waters a route, He will make great and elevate and uplift… the beloved Caesar.’ The question is asked: Is there no other praise more fitting for G-d than that He directs the ships in the heart of the sea and plans a route for their travel? The answer is simple. Ships journey with the help of sails, which are blown by the wind. Picture a ship, which is now in the east and wishes to travel to the west. To do so, it needs an easterly wind. At the same time exactly, a ship is leaving the west, intending to travel to the east. This ship, we understand, needs a westerly wind. How then is it possible for ships to move about in the sea? This is the strength of G-d. So, here too, the Almighty can arrange it so that you will be victorious, and also your enemy, the Caesar of Germany, will be victorious.” This intelligent answer gladdened the heart of the Czar, and Rabbi Yitzchak merited that his words were referred to by the Czar with respect and appreciation, even though the Czar was known to be no friend of the Jews. Rabbi Yitzchak of Volozhin knew that every word in the prayers has its exact meaning and significance, and thus he was able to convince the Czar that G-d could perform the impossible for human beings. We too in our lives must be extremely careful about every word we speak and keep our word and our promises faithfully.

Shabbos in Navi

Yehoshua Chapter 10

In this chapter the Navi describes how Adoni-tzedek, king of Jerusalem, banded together with four other kings to wage war against the Jewish People. Yehoshua and the Jewish People overwhelmed the kings and defeated them, and HaShem performed a miracle, causing large stones from heaven to fall on the enemy. More died through the hailstones than the Jewish People killed by the sword. Yehoshua then gave praise to HaShem, reflecting on the miracle of HaShem allowing him to make the sun stand still until the enemies were defeated. Yehoshua then instructed the Jewish People to open the cave where the five kings had hid, and Yehoshua instructed the officers of the men of war to place their feet on the necks of the kings. This was a sign to the Jewish People that HaShem would do the same to all their enemies. There is one theme that we must constantly emphasize in our study of Scripture. The Jewish People are the dominating nation in the world, whether they win or lose the battle. Similarly, HaShem chose the Jewish People as His people and He bestowed upon us His most precious gift, which is Shabbos. 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. Can we begin to imagine the significance of Shabbos observance? Let us all strengthen ourselves today and resolve that we will observe the Shabbos to the best of our ability, and then HaShem will surely allow us to defeat our enemies and bring the Ultimate Redemption, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in Agadah

The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that whoever observes the Shabbos according to its law, even if he worships idols like the generation of Enosh, he is forgiven. This idea is derived from the verse that states (Yeshaya 56:2) ashrei enosh yaaseh zoskol shomer Shabbos meichalelo happy is the man (enosh) who does this etc. who safeguards the Shabbos from desecrating it (meichalelo). Do not pronounce it meichalelo, but rather, machul lo, it is forgiven him. It is said that the word machul, besides meaning forgiven, can also be read as machol, a circle. How can one ensure that he observes the Shabbos properly? This can only be done by studying with others the laws of Shabbos, and by delighting in the Shabbos with family and fiends. One cannot assume that by staying in his room all day alone he has fulfilled Shabbos observance properly. One must join hands in a circle, with love for every Jew, and then all the Jewish People will merit having their sins forgiven.

Shabbos in Halacha

One can pour a large quantity of cold water into a small amount of hot water in a kli rishon that has been removed from the fire, provided that the mixture will not be yad soledes bo. This is only permitted, however, if the cold water is added all at once.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

It is said regarding Shabbos (Shemos 31:16) beini uvein bnei Yisroel os hi liolam, between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever. The word os in at bash spells the letters taf, pei, and aleph. The letters in mispar katan, digit sum, equal 13, and the word echod, one, is in gematria 13. Thus, Shabbos, which is referred to as echod is a sign that we and HaShem are one.

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Toldos 5768

is sponsored by Mrs. Rayetta Herschfus, Andrea Bier and family,

Marc Herschfus and family, and Brian Herschfus and family, in loving memory of

Dr. Leon Herschfus of blessed memory

לזכר נשמת ר’ יהודה צבי בן הרב אלחנן זצוק”ל


ראש חדש כסלו תשס”ד

I will iy”h (G-d willing) begin delivering a class in Navi (Prophets) starting this Friday night at my home on 26100 Marlowe Place in Oak Park.

We will resume Sefer Shmuel, the first Perek.

The class will be 8:30-9:15 and there will be Oneg Shabbos

(Refreshments will be served).

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363.

To subscribe weekly by email, please send email to

View Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim and other Divrei Torah on

This entry was posted in Esav, Rabbi Yitzchak of Volozhin, Rav Dessler, Shabbos, Yaakov. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Toldos 5768

  1. sarhamashkim says:

    Am i stupid? I don’t understand Rav Yitschok of Volozhin’s terets
    Can someone explain it please and e-maail at.
    Yashar Coiach

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s