שבת טעם החיים כי תבוא תשע”א
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Ki Savo 5771
Gratitude with whatever you have
ולקחת מראשית כל פרי האדמה אשר תביא מארצך אשר ה’ אלקיך נתן לך ושמת בטנא והלכת אל המקום אשר יבחר ה’ אלקיך לשכן שמו שם, , that you shall take of the first of every fruit of the ground that you bring in from your Land that HaShem, your G-d, gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that HaShem, your G-d, will choose, to make His Name rest there. (Devarim 26:2).
When we eat the apple dipped in honey on Rosh HaShanah, the question always arises if one should recite the blessing ofבורא פרי העץ on the apple or on one of the seven species that Eretz Yisroel is famous for. The custom is that we recite the blessing on the apple first. Why do we not follow the Halacha (Orach Chaim 211:1) that one who has before him a fruit of the seven species and an ordinary fruit should recite the blessing over the fruit from Eretz Yisroel?
In this week’s parasha it is said (Devarim 26:1-2)והיה כי תבוא אל הארץ אשר ה’ אלקיך נתן לך נחלה וירשתה וישבת בה: ולקחת מראשית כל פרי האדמה אשר תביא מארצך אשר ה’ אלקיך נתן לך ושמת בטנא והלכת אל המקום אשר יבחר ה’ אלקיך לשכן שמו שם, it will be when you enter the Land that HaShem, your G-d, gives you as an inheritance, and you posses it, and dwell in it, that you shall take of the first of every fruit of the ground that you bring in from your Land that HaShem, your G-d, gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that HaShem, your G-d, will choose, to make His Name rest there. Rashi writes that since the Torah states מראשית, “from” the first of every fruit, we learn that the Torah is limiting the mitzvah of Bikkurim, bringing the first fruits to the Bais HaMikdash, to the seven species. This statement would appear to be sufficient to teach us that one who offers Bikkurim can only bring from the seven fruits that Eretz Yisroel is praised for. Rashi, however, adds another proof to this teaching, as he writes that here the Torah uses the word ארץ, land, and earlier (Ibid 8:8) it is saidארץ חטה ושעורה, a land of wheat, barley, etc. There the Torah is describing the seven species that Eretz Yisroel is praised for, and here too the Torah refers to those seven species. This second statement of Rashi is perplexing, as we already know from the word מראשית that one only brings Bikkurim from the seven species. Why did Rashi find it necessary to add an additional proof for this teaching?
The Mizrachi on Rashi and the Birkas Hazevach (Menachos 84b) raise this question and offer an answer. Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch writes that the essential teaching is from the fact that here the Torah uses the word מארצך and earlier the Torah uses the word מארצך. For this reason, writes Rav Hirsch, the Torah could not state ולקחת ראשית כל פרי, as the mitzvah of Bikkurim only applies to the choice fruits of the Land, which are the seven species that Eretz Yisroel is praised for. I would like to suggest an alternative answer to this question, based on the wording of the verse. The Torah states ולקחת מראשית כל פרי האדמה, using the word אדמה. Afterwards the Torah states אשר תביא מארצך, using the word ארץ. While both the word אדמה and the word ארץ mean land, in this context the Torah is teaching us a profound lesson. The commentators write that the word ארץ is similar to the word רצון, desire. In this light we can explain the verse and Rashi’s statements as follows: first one must know that he is limited in which fruits he can bring as Bikkurim. Once a person knows that he is limited in the fruits that he can offer, he is now required to bring those specific seven species with a true desire to fulfill the mitzvah of HaShem. The lesson in this is that even if one has limited options in how to perform a mitzvah, he can still fulfill the mitzvah with complete desire. It is noteworthy that this concept is reflected in the mitzvah of Bikkurim which is the mitzvah of displaying gratitude to HaShem. One who owns a field expresses his thanks to HaShem by taking a few fruits to Yerushalayim and reciting a lengthy narrative describing how HaShem took us out of Egypt and brought us to the Land. One would wonder why one would need to go all the trouble of gathering fruit, placing them in basket, and travelling all the way to Yerushalayim to recite this expression of garatotiuede. Would it not have been sufficient o stand in his field and thank HaShem for the abundant harvest? The answer to this question is that HaShem requires that we perform all our actions with intense desire and joy. Standing in the field would be a token of our appreciation but would fall short of a true expression of gratitude. HaShem therefore required the Jew to ascend to Yerushalayim and along the way he could contemplate everything that HaShem did for him. With this idea in mind we can answer a perplexing statement of Rashi further on. It is said (Ibid 26:3) ובאת אל הכהן אשר יהיה בימים ההם ואמרת אליו הגדתי היום לה’ אלקיך כי באתי אל הארץ אשר נשבע ה’ לאבתינו לתת לנו, you shall come to whomever will be the Kohen in those days, and you shall say to him, “I declare today to HaShem, your G-d, that I have come to the Land that HaShem swore to our forefathers to give us.” Rashi writes that because the Torah states ובאת אל הכהן אשר יהיה בימים ההם, you shall come to whomever will be the Kohen in those days, we learn that you must go to the Kohen that is in the Bais HaMikdash at that time. The Ramban wonders what the purpose of this teaching is, as the Kohen’s stature did not play a role in the mitzvah of Bikkurim. Based on what we have explained regarding the sincere desire that HaShem seeks from the person bringing Bikkurim, we can explain the words of Rashi. Although the Kohen may not be the greatest Torah scholar, one still has to show his gratitude to HaShem that there is a Bais HaMikdash and that there is a Kohen serving in the Bais HaMikdash. While this particular Kohen may not be great in stature, he is still worthy of accepting the Bikkurim, a Jew’s expression of heartfelt gratitude to HaShem.
We can now answer the question of why on Rosh HaShanah we recite the blessing on the apple and not on the seven species. It is easy to lament the times we live in, where Torah study and mitzvah observance is not “like it used to be.” The mitzvah of Bikkurim, however, teaches us that we have to “make do” with what we have, and thank HaShem for every facet of our lives. Rosh HaShanah is similar to the mitzvah of Bikkurim, as it is the first day of the year. On this first day we recite the blessing over the apple and not on the seven species to demonstrate that we are required to express our gratitude to HaShem for whatever we have, even if that fruit is not as significant as the others. Similarly, HaShem gave us the Holy Shabbos as an opportunity to express our gratitude to Him. We sing a song for Shabbos, and the Shabbos itself sings a song of gratitude to HaShem. Let us use every opportunity in life to express our thanks to HaShem for all the good that He bestows upon us.
Shabbos in Action through the Prism of the Parashah
The commentators write that the curses that HaShem warned the Jewish People about were only on the surface, as hidden in the curses are true blessings for the Jewish People. An example of this is the verse that states (Devarim 28:68) והשיבך ה’ מצרים באניות, HaShem will return you to Egypt in ships. The Gemara (Shabbos118a) states that כל המענג את השבת נותנין לו נחלה בלי מצרים, one who delights in the Shabbos receives a boundless heritage. We can interpret our verse, then, to have the opposite meaning: והשיבך, one who keeps the Shabbos (the word שבת is derived from the word שב, to return) מצרים, will receive a heritage that is unlimited (the opposite of מצרים).
The following are more stories are from the website http://www.chatzos.com dedicated to women who have accepted upon themselves to be ready for Shabbos by midday on Friday.
The following is quoted directly from Shabbos Kodesh, about Rav Shimshon Pinkus zt”l, page 292:
The Rav’s special efforts and concern to honor Shabbos Kodesh applied every Shabbos of the year. Even on Shabbosos when most people cut corners, he would not diminish the honor of Shabbos in any way.
For instance, one of the Rav’s neighbors recounts that on erev Shabbos HaGadol, which fell that year on 11 Nisan, his wife happened to meet Rebbetzin Pinkus.
Their conversation was naturally drawn to the topic of Pesach preparations. This woman asked the Rebbetzin if the Pinkus’s stove was already clean and kosher for Pesach.
The answer she received caught her unexpectedly: “Is the stove kosher for Pesach?! How could it be kosher already on erev Shabbos HaGadol? We still need to bake cakes lichvod Shabbos Kodesh!” As the Rav would say, “Why should Shabbos suffer just because it’s close to Pesach?”(He must be shepping nachas from the recent Chatzos mail!)
For this reason, he would not use paper plates on Shabbos, even on Shabbos HaGadol. “This Shabbos is no different from any other,” he insisted. “We must honor Shabbos just as we do during the rest of the year. Disposable dishes aren’t fitting for kavod Shabbos,” he emphasized. In their last years, to ease their Pesach preparations, the Rav and his family ate their Shabbos HaGadol meals in a small hall near their home. But even then, they never compromised the honor of Shabbos Kodesh. The Shabbos delicacies were plentiful and served on regular dishes, as on every Shabbos, since “Shabbos need not suffer just because it’s close to Pesach.” Furthermore, in the Rav’s home, Friday was completely dedicated to preparing for Shabbos. One family member tells of a certain Friday early in Nissan when Shabbos preparations were finished earlier than expected. The Rebbetzin decided to take advantage of the time and make some progress with the Pesach cleaning. She asked the girls to go through one of the cabinets and clean out any chametz. The girls were happily working-until their father found out. “On erev Shabbos, we don’t do anything that’s not connected to preparing for Shabbos,” he told them. “Not even lichvod Pesach. On Erev Shabbos, we only prepare for Shabbos!”
Once, Reb Yehuda Tzvi, the grandson of the great R’ Chaim of Tzanz, was in attendance at the Seudas Mitzvah (meal) following a circumcision together with his grandfather. Reb Chaim was honored to say some words of Torah Since it was a Wednesday afternoon, and it is known from the Holy Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchok Luria Ashkenazi of Safed that on Wednesday the light of the coming Shabbos can already be felt in the world, he began to expound on the holiness of the Shabbos. R’ Chaim became so excited and emotionally charged speaking about the holiness of the Shabbos day, that when he finished he called out to those at the table, “Shabbos Shalom, Shabbos Shalom!!
R’ Yehuda Tzvi got the impression from all of this that indeed the Shabbos was soon to be arriving. He quickly ran home to get his special white clothes, and headed for the mikveh (ritual bath), to wash himself in honor of the Shabbos. Along the way he met another young man who had heard R’ Chaim of Tzanz speak about Shabbos, and he too was on his way to the mikveh to wash in honor of Shabbos. They joyously made their way together to the mikveh, but when they arrived they saw that no one else was there. They then understood that the excitement of the Tzanzer Rebbe had caused them to think that Shabbos was about to come.
Rav Sholom Meir Wallach, Shlita, relates the story of the American rabbi who visited Eretz Yisroel, landing on Erev Shabbos. Hot, tired and very thirsty, he sought a cold drink. Being a distinguished rav meant that he could not stand in the middle of the street drinking a can of soda. He noticed a grocery store, went in and asked for a cold drink. The proprietor, an elderly Jew who was clearly not a native born Israeli, asked, “What time is it?” The rabbi looked at his watch and said, “Twenty minutes to twelve.” “Good,” replied the storekeeper, “Then I can serve you. You see, I do not serve anyone on Erev Shabbos past chatzos, midday.”
Excerpt from a speech given by Rabbi Abraham Twerski, on Mesilas Yesharim, produced by the Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.
Rabbi Kaplan, student in the yeshiva of Mir, boarded with a family. One Friday morning when he left for the yeshiva, the husband was going to the market to buy provisions for Shabbos. His wife said to him, “please come back early.” When Rabbi Kaplan returned at about noontime, she was anxiously standing at the door looking for her husband. He asked her, “why are you so anxious? There are still several hours till Shabbos.”
“Several years after we were married, we had no children, and then we were blessed with a child, a little boy. He was not developing well and I took him to the doctor. The doctor examined him and told us that there was something seriously wrong with the child’s heart and that we should take him to the heart specialist in Vilna. I did so, and the heart specialist gave us no good news. Essentially, he told us to go back home and wait for what would transpire. I cried all night at the hotel. Another guest asked me what I was crying about and I told her. She said, on the way home, ‘stop off at Radin, and get a bracha from the Chafetz Chaim.’
“When we got to Radin, I was terribly disappointed that due to his advanced age and frail condition, the Chafetz Chaim wasn’t accepting visitors. But then I happened to notice the grandson of the Chafetz Chaim, and he had roomed with us when he was in the yeshiva. I asked him to intercede for me, to get to see the Chafetz Chaim.
“When I came in, the Chafetz Chaim was obviously weak and very frail. I broke down in tears. I explained to him the horrible problem about our child. He said to me, ‘My daughter, don’t cry. Just promise me one thing. That every Friday, by noontime, your table will be set, Likavod Shabbos. The candles will be ready. And, that you will light the candles well ahead of sunset.’
“Of course I promised him and I began to do so. I returned home, and every Friday afternoon, the table was set by noontime. The candles were ready. And gradually, I saw that my child was improving. I took my child back to the doctor and they asked me if I had gone to the clinic. I said no, I was in Vilna, to the heart doctor that you sent to me.
“They said, ‘take this child back to the Vilna doctor again. ‘ I did, and he said, “this is not the same child you had here last time. “I told him, ‘this is our only child.’ The doctor was in wonderment. “What happened?”
“I said, ‘we got a bracha from the Chafetz Chaim.’ The doctor was Jewish, but not observant. He said, ‘I did not want to tell you last time how bleak the situation was. Your child’s heart was totally diseased. Now, sometimes we doctors can do something for an ailing heart. But to take out a totally diseased heart and replace it with a new, healthy one, only the Chafetz Chaim could do that.”
And so the woman said to Rabbi Kaplan, “now you see why I’m so anxious that my husband returns early from shopping. Kavod Shabbos.”
Rabbi Twerski continues: Not to rush into the house ten minutes before Shabbos from work. Well before Shabbos, have the table set and the candles ready, and to prepare for Shabbos, as we would for an honorable, distinguished, important guest.
When we do that, we honor Shabbos and give it its full significance. And so, in addition to refraining from forbidden types of activities on Shabbos, we have Shabbos as a day of kedusha. Shabbos can then become a taste of the world to come.
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Ki Savo 5771
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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