Shabbos in the Parashah
In this week’s parashah it is said (Vayikra 23:1-3) vayidabeir HaShem el Moshe leimor dabeir el kol adas binei Yisroel viamarta aleihem moadei HaShem asher tikriu osam mikraei kodesh eileh heim moadai sheishes yamim taiaseh melacha uvayom hashevii Shabbos Shabbason mikra kodesh kol melacha lo saasu Shabbos hi laHaShem bichol moshvosocheim, HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: HaShem’s appointed festivals that you are to designate as holy convocations – these are My appointed festivals. For six days labor may be done, and the seventh day is a day of complete rest, a holy convocation, you shall not do any work; it is a Shabbos for HaShem in all your dwelling places. Rashi raises the obvious question: The Torah states that these are My appointed festivals, and then the Torah proceeds to discuss the laws of Shabbos. Is Shabbos deemed to be a festival? Rashi writes that the Torah juxtaposes the Shabbos next to the festivals to teach us that one who desecrates the festivals is regarded as one who desecrates the Shabbos, and one who observes the festivals is regarded as one who observes the Shabbos. Although Rashi seems to have resolved the question of why the Torah discusses Shabbos next to the festivals, we must still understand why it was necessary to teach us this lesson. Does the Torah need to place the laws of tzitzis next to the laws of Tefillin to teach us that performing the mitzvah is tzitzis is equivalent to performing the mitzvah of Tefillin? It is true that there are certain leniencies regarding the festivals, such as the permit to cook on a festival in contrast to the prohibition of cooking on Shabbos. Nonetheless, why would we assume that the observance of the festival is less significant than the observance of the Shabbos? The answer to this question can be found in the Zohar (Emor) where it is said that the festivals are akin to one who stays in someone’s home as a guest, whereas Shabbos is like a son who can entreat his father for whatever he desires. Although this distinction appears to be overly simple, there is an added dimension to this concept that must be explained. In the Friday night Shemone Esrei we recite the words uvairachto mikol hayamim vikidashto mikol hazemanim, and He blessed it from all the days and He sanctified it from all the times. It is said that this passage can be interpreted to mean that all the festivals draw their sanctity and holiness from the Shabbos. Thus, Shabbos is not merely a day when one can attain greater spiritual heights than one can attain on the festivals. Rather, Shabbos is a day which disseminates its aura onto all the festivals of the year. In this light we can better understand why the Torah juxtaposes Shabbos to the festivals. In truth, Shabbos cannot be referred to as a festival. Rather, Shabbos is the source of holiness and spirituality for all the festivals. Subsequently, one who desecrates the festivals is akin to having desecrated the Shabbos, as the festivals are akin to the guest and Shabbos is akin to the son of the master of the home. When one does not respect the guest in a home, it is as if he is disregarding the master of the home. When one observes the festivals, however, it is akin to observing the Shabbosos, as one is demonstrating that he respects the guest and thus acknowledged the master. HaShem should allow us to merit properly observing the Shabbos and the festivals, and then He will bring Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our times, and in our days.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Ribbon kol HaOlamim
Published in 5401 (1641)
Uvasi liveischo lihapil techinasi lifanecho shetaavir anchasi, I entered Your house to cast my supplication before You that You banish my sighs. It is interesting that we declare here that we have entered HaShem’s house to cast our supplications. We just mentioned that the angels have entered our homes, and now we refer to our homes as HaShem’s home. What is the explanation for this apparent discrepancy? It would seem that the resolution of this paradox is that prior to the onset of Shabbos, we view our homes as ours and this is because our accomplishments during the week tend to make us feel conceited in that we are the ones responsible for our successes. When Shabbos arrives, however, we recognize HaShem’s greatness and we are immediately humbled before Him. This allows us to declare that our home is really HaShem’s home.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Keil adon al kol hamaasim, the G-d the Master over all works. It is noteworthy that the word adon, translated as master, is similar to aden, which means a socket. We refer to HaShem as the Master of all actions. What does this mean in a practical sense? The Medrash (Bereishis 47:6) states that the Avos, our Patriarchs, were the merkavah, the chariot for the Shechinah, the Divine Presence. It is said that the function of the chariot is to carry the rider and ultimately the chariot is invisible. Similarly, through their conduct, the Avos became completely transparent, thus allowing for HaShem’s Presence to be discerned in the world. In a similar vein we can suggest that we refer to HaShem as the Master over all works. The sockets in the Mishkan, despite being at the bottom of the beams, were the support of the entire Mishkan. Although there are times in our lives when we find it difficult to perceive HaShem’s Presence, we can still acknowledge that HaShem is, so to speak, the socket of our existence.
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: This past Thursday evening I went to be Menachem Avel (in the vernacular – pay a shiva call) a friend, Rabbi Zissel Zelman, who was sitting shiva for his father. He is a Chicago native whose father, Rabbi Zelman, grew up in Chicago way before Torah Judaism had flourished there. Reb Zissel related that as a young man, his father would pass the newsstand every Saturday night after shul to pick up a paper. As he did not carry money with him, he had made an arrangement with the vendors to return on Sunday morning to pay the vendor. Rabbi Zelman was not interested in the sports pages nor was he interested in the headlines. In fact he was not interested in the paper altogether. Rabbi Zelman bought the paper for his mother. She also was not interested in the sports or the news. She was interested in the dead. Every Saturday night she would comb the paper looking for announcements of tombstone unveilings that were to take place on Sunday at the Jewish Cemeteries. An unveiling is a time when people are charitable, and the elderly Mrs. Zelman would go to the cemeteries and raise funds from the gathered for Yeshivos in Europe in Israel. She would eventually turn the coins into bills and send the money overseas. A plaque hangs today in the Slobodka Yeshiva in Israel commemorating her efforts.
Rabbi Kamenetzky writes further: This past winter, in honor of 7 Adar, a day designated to honor the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu, it was decided to give recognition to the community Chevra Kadisha (burial society). Rabbi Paysach Krohn addressed a large gathering at Brooklyn’s Bais HaChaim Chapel. His inspiring talk, (which I highly recommend) concerned the delicate issues of death, dignity, and decorum. He related the following story: (I may have skewed some details and invite my Dutch readers to correct my embellishments!) Rabbi Yehudah Leib Lewis is the Rav of a beautiful kehilla in Amsterdam. As in every kehilla, the community has a Chevra Kadisha which tends to the needs of the dead and dying, insures a dignified burial for the deceased, and helps the mourners through the process of bereavement. Membership is a privilege and only outstanding members of the kehilla are selected. There is one group of people who, no matter how outstanding they are considered in the community, are never asked to serve as part of the Chevra. You see, Kohanim (priests) are not allowed to come in contact with a dead body, so burying the dead is one mitzvah that they rarely perform! It so happened that Rabbi Lewis’s community purchased a plot of land to consecrate a new cemetery for the kehilla. The Kohanim, as well as other members of the community participated in this great mitzvah and designated the first plot that was to be used. Not long after the purchase, a member of the kehilla passed away. He would be the first to be buried in the new cemetery. The next day the friends and mourners arrived with the deceased at the cemetery. Shovels in hand, they approached the grave to begin burying the inaugural plot for the deceased. They were shocked to see that the plot had been dug! After burying the man, they found out the true story. Moshe Cohen, a member of the community and a kohen, wanted to participate in the great mitzvah of burying the dead, all his life. However, there are very few limits to the restriction of a kohen coming in contact with a dead person. But when Mr. Cohen heard that there was a new cemetery being consecrated and that there was no one interred in it, he saw the opportunity that he had watched and waited for. And the first one buried in the new cemetery had his grave ready and waiting, dug by none other than Moshe Cohen! [Reprinted with permission from Torah.org]
Shabbos in Navi
In this chapter the Navi records how Yiftach was chosen by the elders of Gilead to wage battle against the Ammonites. Prior to the battle, Yiftach made a vow that if HaShem allows him to be victorious, then whatever emerges from his house when he returns in peace shall belong to HaShem and he would offer that item up as a sacrifice. Tragically, the first thing to greet Yiftach upon his return from the victorious battle was his daughter. Yiftach’s daughter then accepted upon herself not to marry because of her father’s vow. The Medrash (Koheles Rabbah 10:16) states that Yiftach could have had Pinchas annul his vow but Yiftach felt that Pinchas should come to him whereas Pinchas felt it was beneath his dignity to go to Yiftach. Subsequently they were both punished, as Yiftach contracted a disease that caused his limbs to atrophy and Pinchas had the Divine Spirit taken from him. It is noteworthy that the Medrash (Medrash Shmuel 15) states that Yiftach in his generation was akin to Shmuel in his generation. Simply stated, this means that we must follow the advice of the leader in our generation, despite the fact that he is of lesser stature than the leaders of the previous generations. On a deeper level, however, we can suggest that the Zohar states that a Torah scholar is in the category of Shabbos. On Shabbos, however, all of the Jewish People are in the category of Shabbos. It is said (Yechezkel 46:1) ko amar HaShem Elokim shaar hechatzer hapinimis haponeh kadim yihyeh sagur sheishes yimei hamaaseh uvayom haShabbos yipaseiach uvayom hachodesh yipaseiach, thus said the Lord/Elokim: “The gate of the inner courtyard that faces eastward shall be closed during the six days of labor, but on the Shabbos day it shall be opened, and on the day of the New Moon it shall be opened.” The Sfas Emes (Noach 5633) writes that materialism is merely a cloak for spirituality, and on Shabbos HaShem’s will is revealed. When one negates himself to the body of the Jewish People, he can enter that inner level of spirituality. Thus, on Shabbos we are all able to attain the level of the Torah scholar, who is constantly in a state of Shabbos, as he is in tune with the inner spiritual world.
Shabbos in Agadah
It is said (Bereishis 2:2) vayechal Elokim bayom hashevii milachto asher asah vayishbos bayom hashevii mikol milachto asher asah, by the seventh day HaShem completed His work which he had done, and He abstained on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. The Baal HaTurim (Ibid) cites the Yerushalmi that states that the word vayechal is interpreted to mean vichamad, and He desired. The Sar Shalom from Belz (Ibid) explains that Shabbos is the ultimate goal of all the days of the week, and through the light of Shabbos HaShem desired the labor of the six days of the week. Thus, the interpretation of the above verse is that vayechal Elokim bayom hashevii milachto asher asah, HaShem desired because of the seventh day all the labor that was performed in the six days of the week. Vayishbos bayom hashevii mikol milachto asher asah is interpreted to mean HaShem nullified all the powers that existed from the labor that was performed during the six days of the week. All the days of the week were incorporated into Shabbos and HaShem shone the light of Shabbos on the six days of the week. Subsequently, HaShem desired those days because the evil powers contained within them were nullified.
Shabbos in Halacha
In Talmudic times, most cooking was done in ovens that were filled with hot coals. The Sages instituted two methods that would alleviate the issue of stirring the embers and thus allowing one to maintain food on the oven. One method was that if the coals were removed, one could leave uncooked food in the oven prior to the onset of Shabbos, and allow it to be cooked by the heat that was retained in the oven. One is also permitted to leave raw food in the oven if the coals were covered with ashes. The heat of the coals was diminished by the ashes and this was an indication that one did not desire to have the food cook quickly. Thus, one would be unlikely to stir the embers on Shabbos.
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
It is said (Bereishis 2:2) vayechal Elokim bayom hashevii milachto asher asah vayishbos bayom hashevii mikol milachto asher asah, by the seventh day HaShem completed His work which he had done, and He abstained on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. The Baal HaTurim (Ibid) cites the Yerushalmi that states that the word vayechal is interpreted to mean vichamad, and He desired. It is noteworthy that the word chamad , desire, in mispar katan (ches is 8, mem is 40, which is 4, and dalet is 4 and 8+4+4=16, and 1+6=7) equals 7, and HaShem desired Shabbos, the seventh day of the week.
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