שבת טעם החיים יום כיפור תשע”ב
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Yom Kippur 5772
Yom Kippur and Shabbos: Two Parallel Worlds
אם תשיב משבת רגלך עשות חפציך ביום קדשי וקראת לשבת ענג לקדוש ה’ מכבד וכבדתו מעשת דרכיך ממצוא חפצך ודבר דבר, if you restrain your foot because it is the Shabbos; refrain from accomplishing your own deeds on My Holy day; if you proclaim the Shabbos ‘a delight’, and the holy day of HaShem ‘honored’, and you honor it by not engaging in your own affairs, from seeking your own needs or discussing the forbidden. (Yeshaya 58:13)
I was thinking about what to write for this year when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos. This week I went to be Menachem Avel a good friend of the Detroit Jewish community, Reb Menachem Mendel ben Reb Shimon Greenfield zt”l. He was such a wonderful person, always with a smile, and always being mechazek others. His passing is a tremendous loss for our community and HaShem should allow us from now to know only joy and his family should be comforted amongst the mourners of Tziyon and Yerushalayim.
Mentioning the dead and giving charity on Yom Kippur
While at the Shiva house, I thought of the עגלה ערופה, when a corpse is found between cities and we do not know who killed him. The elders of the city closest to the corpse are required to bring a heifer that was never worked with and they bring the heifer to a valley which cannot be worked or sown, and they axe the back of the heifers;’ neck in the valley. The Kohanim come forward, and then the elders wash their hands over the heifer that was axed in the valley. It is then said (Devarim 21:7-8) וענו ואמרו ידינו לא שפכו את הדם הזה ועיניו לא ראו כפר לעמך ישראל אשר פדית ה’ ואל תתן דם נקי בקרב עמך ישראל ונכפר להם הדם, “Our hands have not spilled this blood, and our eyes did not see. Atone for Your people Israel that You have redeemed, O HaShem: Do not place innocent blood in the midst of Your people Israel!” Then the blood shall be atoned for them. The Sifri (Ibid) expounds this verse as follows: כפר לעמך, אלו החיים, אשר פדית, אלו המתים, מלמד שהמתים צריכים כפרה, Atone for Your people, these are the ones who are alive. That You have redeemed, these are the dead, as the dead require atonement. The Medrash (Tanchuma Haazinu §1) interprets this teaching to mean that the ones who are alive redeemed those who are dead. For this reason, the Medrash continues, we have the custom to mention the dead on Yom Kippur and to contribute to charity on their behalf, as charity takes the dead out from Gehinnom. The Medrash adds that we also mention the dead on Shabbos, so that they do not return to Gehinnom. How are we to understand this Medrash? What is the connection between Shabbos and Yom Kippur to helping those who have already died by mentioning them and giving charity?
On Shabbos one can gain complete atonement
In order to understand this connection, it is worthwhile to examine the connection between Shabbos and Yom Kippur. In the simple sense, the association between Shabbos and Yom Kippur is that Yom Kippur is referred to as שבת שבתון, a day of complete rest (Vayikra 23:32). Thus, in a sense, Yom Kippur is double the rest that we experience on Shabbos. On a deeper level, however, I would like to suggest that the connection between Shabbos and Yom Kippur is that the word שבת is derived from the word שב, to repent. Yom Kippur is the one day of the year when HaShem truly desires our repentance, and by repenting, we are granted full atonement. Yom Kippur is when HaShem is closest to us, and it is the best opportunity to gain favor in His eyes. There are many aspects of repentance, as can be found in the writings of the Rambam, Rabbeinu Yonah, and others. However, one aspect of repentance that is often overlooked is the Holy Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that even one who worshipped idols like the generation of Enosh, if he observes the Shabbos properly, he will be granted atonement for his sins. What is so unique about Shabbos that observing it properly earns one complete atonement? We know that on Shabbos we are required to eat choice foods and delight in the Holy Shabbos. It is said (Yeshaya 58:13)אם תשיב משבת רגלך עשות חפציך ביום קדשי וקראת לשבת ענג לקדוש ה’ מכבד וכבדתו מעשת דרכיך ממצוא חפצך ודבר דבר, if you restrain your foot because it is the Shabbos; refrain from accomplishing your own deeds on My Holy day; if you proclaim the Shabbos ‘a delight’, and the holy day of HaShem ‘honored’, and you honor it by not engaging in your own affairs, from seeking your own needs or discussing the forbidden. The Gemara (Shabbos 119a) states that the wordsלקדוש ה’ מכבד, and the holy day of HaShem ‘honored,’ refers to Yom Kippur, when food and drink are forbidden, so one should honor Yom Kippur with clean clothing. One must wonder, however, why the verse would juxtapose Shabbos to Yom Kippur if they are not parallel? Furthermore, the verse is focused exclusively on Shabbos and not the festivals, so why was it necessary to even hint to Yom Kippur?
Eating and drinking on Erev Yom Kippur is an intrinsic component of Yom Kippur
The answer to these questions is that the Lev Simcha writes that we are required to eat and drink on Erev Yom Kippur, and he suggests that when we do this, we confuse the Stan, as he cannot imagine that following a day of feasting we will be able to experience a holy day such as Yom Kippur. Based on this thought we can suggest that the same idea applies to Shabbos. When w eat and drink on Shabbos, the Satan cannot imagine that there is anything spiritual in our physical indulgence. To demonstrate the fallacy of the Satan’s thinking, the Gemara states that one who observes the Shabbos properly, including delighting in physical pleasures, will be granted complete atonement. This is similar to what the Gemara (Brachos 8b) states that one who eats and drinks on the ninth of Tishrei is akin to one who fasted on the ninth and tenth of Tishrei. The eating and drinking itself is a part of the atonement process and not merely a preparation for the fast.
Shabbos and Yom Kippur are other-worldly days
We can now better understand why on Shabbos and Yom Kippur we mention the dead and contribute to charity on their behalf. Shabbos and Yom Kippur specifically incorporate this world and the next world. The Gemara (Ibid 57b) states that Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. Yom Kippur is certainly a day that is other-worldly. Thus, while standing in this world of physicality, we can connect to those in the other world. It is therefore appropriate that we invoke the merit of the dead on these holy days. HaShem should grant us the strength to fast properly this Shabbos and the strength to delight in all future Shabbosos. The entire Jewish People should be granted atonement this Yom Kippur and we should merit the arrival of Moshiach, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in Action through the Prism of the Parashah
In the Torah reading of Yom Kippur, it is said (Vayikra 16:30) כי ביום הזה יכפר עליכם לטהר אתכם מכל חטאתיכם לפני ה’ תטהרו, for on this day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you; from all your sins before HaShem shall you be cleansed. The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that even one who worshipped idols like the generation of Enosh, if he observes the Shabbos properly, he will be granted atonement for his sins. It is noteworthy that the words לטהר אתכם, to cleanse you, equals in gematria בשבת, on Shabbos, as through proper Shabbos observance one is cleansed from all his sins.
My Yom Kippur Resolution
My daughter’s wedding pictures have been piled neatly in their original boxes gathering dust. This may sound quite unremarkable to you except for the fact that, thank God, she now has been blessed with three children. On her last trip to America she chose her photos which gave me the incentive to finally choose mine.
I gave myself a deadline staying up one night till 3 am after a long day of teaching in order to get this done. The next day I had my appointment in the studio and brought in a manila envelope with both sets of photos. I was bleary eyed and exhausted but happy with my accomplishment. We sat in front of the computer for hours as the photo technician went through each picture meticulously. We spoke about size, black and whites, backgrounds and placement. I cannot even recall how long I sat there but I do know that the sky had turned dark while I was inside.
A few weeks later I received a call that my daughter’s album was ready for pickup. I said that I was thrilled but what about mine? I knew that I had been looking forward to seeing both albums. After waiting on hold for a few moments I was told that there was only one album and one set of photos.
You’ve got to be kidding! I thought to myself.
“Listen, this is impossible,” I said. “I sat there in that office for hours. I stayed up the night before till I couldn’t see straight. You need to find my pictures! I can’t do this again. I don’t have the time or energy.”
I felt that little seed of anger slowly turn into righteous rage. I was livid.
The person on the other end of the line said that she would call me back. As I was waiting for the phone to ring, my indignation kept growing. I felt that little seed of anger slowly turn into righteous rage with each passing minute.
How could they be so irresponsible? I thought to myself. How could they lose a whole pile of pictures? I spent the whole night on this! I can’t believe it. By the time I got the call back I was outraged.
“There is only one set of pictures here. The woman you worked with turned her desk upside down. She checked through her computer. There is nothing there. Are you sure you had two sets of photos?”
“Am I sure I had two sets of photos? Do you think that I am imagining things? Of course I’m sure!” I sputtered. And then my decibel level rose. I said something about responsibility and the value of time. I went on and on. I was asked to come down to the office.
I did go down. Not in a very good mood of course. We went through the whole scenario again. I asked the woman who had worked with me to try and remember how we had sat together for hours and worked on both albums. She was almost speechless and said that in all her years this had never happened to her. The entire office was silent while watching the scene. We kept going around in circles.
I left. We resolved that they would print a whole new set of photos. No one was happy. That night I decided to put some order to my desk. And then I saw it. A familiar manila envelope sat hidden beneath all my papers. My heart began to pound. I wanted to pretend that I did not really see it. But I did. And then I remembered what happened. After going through both sets of photos, the technician had told me that she wanted to just concentrate on one album at a time.
My heart sank. What had I said? What about my tone? How much aggravation had I caused this woman in her workplace?
I called my daughter, Shaindy, in Israel and told her the whole story. I was beyond embarrassed with myself. I had decided to call the studio first thing in the morning and apologize. Shaindy convinced me to buy a big chocolate platter and make a personal appearance. I had to swallow hard. Very hard. But I did it. I apologized and asked for forgiveness in front of the entire office. The woman was extremely kind. She gave me a hug, didn’t belabor the point and I think she loved the chocolate.
Who am I if not a person of my word?
Now I remain with myself and it’s time for some introspection. Yom Kippur night Jews across the world gather and the first prayer we recite is Kol Nidrei. The synagogue is hushed. We speak about vows and promises that have not been kept. We speak about the power of our words. It does not matter how religious or secular we are; this night we stand unified as we recite this holy prayer. Because after all, who am I if not a person of my word?
I was listening to an interview with a man who lost his wife on one of the planes on 9/11. He said that she had called him from the plane but his phone was off. His wife then left a message for him. She had begun to say I will call you later but stopped herself. He knows that she did not want to leave him with a haunting unfulfilled promise as her final words. Instead she simply said ‘I love you’ over and over again.
As I stand before God on these holy days, I am resolved in my heart to watch my words. How we connect with people, our tone, our expressions, all reflect the person we are. With a little bit of thought before we speak we can create a legacy of kindness and love. (www.Aish.com)
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Yom Kippur 5772
Is sponsored lizeicher nishmas HaRav Menachem Mendel ben Reb Shimon Greenfield zt”l, a good friend of everyone in the Detroit Jewish community, who was niftar 4 Tishrei 5772. יהי זכרו ברוך
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos and a Gemar Chasima Tova and a Gut Gebentched Yohr
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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