Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bo 5772
(From the archives)
Shabbos in the Parashah
In this week’s parashah the Torah describes in great detail the preparations for the redemption from Egypt. It is said (Shemos 12:21) vayikra Moshe lichol ziknei Yisroel vayomer aleihem mishchu ukechu lachem tzon limishpichoseichem vishachatu haPesach, Moshe called to all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Draw forth or buy for yourselves one of the flock for your families, and slaughter the Pesach-offering. This verse appears to be merely describing the commencement of offering the Korban Pesach, the sacrificial lamb that was slaughtered on the fourteenth of Nissan and eaten after nightfall on the fifteenth of Nissan. Yet, Rashi quotes the Mechilta that states, “mishchu yideichem meielilim ukechu lachem tzon shel mitzvah, remove yourselves from idolatry and take for yourselves a sheep for a mitzvah.” The Sfas Emes (Bo 5662) offers an amazing insight into what transpired regarding the commandment of offering the Korban Pesach. When HaShem instructed Moshe and Aharon regarding the Korban Pesach, it is said (Shemos 12:3) dabru el kol adas Yisroel leimor beasor lachodesh hazeh viyikchu lahem ish seh liveis avos seh labyais, speak to the entire assembly of Israel, saying: on the tenth of this month they shall take for themselves – each man – a lamb or kid for each father’s house, a lamb or kid for the household. Yet, Moshe added the word mishchu, draw forth. The Sfas Emes explains that Moshe was intimating with this additional word that first one must remove himself from materialism and tendencies towards the physical, and only then can he elevate himself spiritually. In a similar vein, writes the Sfas Emes, HaShem instructed the Jewish People in the first commandments regarding Shabbos. HaShem said (Shemos 20:8) zachor es yom haShabbos likadsho, remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it. Yet, Moshe, in the repetition of the commandments, said (Devarim 5:12) shamor es yom haShabbos likadsho kasher tzivcho HaShem elokecha, safeguard the Shabbos day to sanctify it, as HaShem, your G-d, has commanded you. Shabbos is a commemoration of the exodus from Egypt, and for this reason we are instructed to first safeguard the Shabbos, i.e. to withdraw from materialism, and only then to remember the day in a positive manner. If we take the idea of the Sfas Emes one step further, we will discover the secret as to how we can merit redemption from this long and bitter exile. We are weighed down by materialism. People have nice cars, fancy homes, and all the latest technology at their fingertips. We all use these items for good, but the Maharal (Gevuros HaShem § 51) explains why the Jewish People were deserving of redemption from Egypt. The Maharal writes that the Jewish People in Egypt were slaves, and HaShem instructed them upon being redeemed from slavery that they should eat matzah. The Torah refers to matzah as lechem oni, poor man’s bread. The reason for this is because the poor man has nothing besides himself, and the matzah only contains water and flour with no additives. Similarly, redemption means that one is completely independent from any other power, whereas a slave is subjugated to his master. When the Jewish People were redeemed from Egypt, they were no longer under the rule of any human, and it was for this reason that they were instructed to eat matzah, because matzah symbolizes complete freedom from any other force. The challenge we face in the exile is not so much that we indulge in unnecessary luxuries. Rather, we are attached to the materialism, and it is for this reason that we remain exiled. The idea of redemption is that we forsake everything that we have become attached to in the materialistic world and we surrender our lives to the will of HaShem. Fortunately, HaShem has given us His Holy Shabbos, where once a week we can taste a semblance of that freedom. On Shabbos we are cut off from the world of materialism and we engage solely in spiritual pursuits. Let us hope and pray that the entire Jewish People will observe the Shabbos, and then we will merit that which it is said (Yeshaya 27:13) vihaya bayom hahu yitaka bishofar gadol uvau haovdim bieretz Ashur vihanidachim bieretz Mitzrayim vihishtachavu laHaShem bihar hakdoesh biYerushalyim, it shall be on that day that a great shofar will be blown, and those who are lost in the land of Assyria and those cast away in the land of Egypt will come together, and they will prostrate themselves to HaShem on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Ribbon kol HaOlamim
Published in 5401 (1641)
Adon haShalom melech shehashalom shelo, Lord of peace, King to Whom peace belongs. One must wonder what all this talk of peace is about. It is said (Iyov 25:2) hamshel vafachad imo oseh shalom bimromav, dominion and dread are with him; He makes peace upon His heights. The Medrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 12:8) interprets this verse to mean that HaShem allows for fire and water to coexist, thus resulting in the plague of barad, hail, to be sent upon the Egyptians. Thus, we see that HaShem allows for diametrically opposing forces to coexist in the upper spheres. How does this manifest itself in this world? Perhaps the idea is that it is known that everything in this world exists in a male and female state. Thus, the entire world is composed of opposite ideas, yet HaShem allows the entire world to coexist. When we witness strife and discord, we are observers to the division of HaShem’s Name and what the world stands for. This is reflected in the Mishnah in Avos (1:18) that states: al shelosha Devarim haOlam kayam, al hadin vial HaEmes vial haShalom, the world endures on three things – justice, truth and peace. We should all make the best effort to keep the peace, as peace is what allows the world to exist.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Molah haaretz kinyanecho, the world is full of Your possessions. What does this statement mean? Does not the whole world belong to HaShem, as it is said (Tehillim 24:1) LeDovid Mizmor laHashem haaretz umloah tevel viyoshvei vah, By Dovid, a psalm, HaShem’s is the earth and its fullness, the inhabited land and those who dwell in it. Perhaps the answer to this question is that in this statement of psalms, Dovid HaMelech is making the following observation. People tend to attribute their successes to their plans and aspirations on this world. Dovid HaMelech thus teaches us that the world is full of HaShem’s possessions. The Ramban writes that when one has an inspiration, he should make it into a kli, a vessel, i.e. he should give that inspiration a vehicle to serve HaShem. Yet, even those inspirations and acquisitions belong to HaShem. Hashem should allow us to take aretz, homiletically interpreted as materialism, and transform it into spiritual acquisitions.
Given the fact that the readership enjoys the story section of this page, I have taken the liberty to begin including stories that are not necessarily related to Shabbos, but are inspiring nonetheless.
Stephen Savitsky, CEO of Staff Builders, one of America’s leading home health care providers, spends quite a bit of time travelling on airplanes. It is at 35,000 feet where he has met Jews of great diversity, backgrounds, and beliefs. Once on a flight out of Baton Rouge toward Wichita, Kansas, he was bumped to first class. He was seated next to a large man who had a thick gold ring on his pinkie and an even thicker gold chain hanging loosely from his neck. The man was chewing an unlit cigar while immersing himself in a sports magazine. As soon as the seat belt sign was turned off he ordered two drinks. All the while the flamboyant jet-setter was immersed in his own self, and hardly glanced at the neatly groomed executive who was sitting next to him. He surely did not notice that Steve’s head was covered during the entire flight. The flight attendants began serving the meal. The smell of glazed ham that was wafting from his neighbor’s tray made it difficult for Steve to eat his kosher food. It was only after the meals were cleared and the trays removed did Mr. Savitsky take out a small siddur (prayer book) to say Grace After Meals. All of a sudden a pair of eyes transfixed on the siddur. “Hey, my friend!” exclaimed the man. Steve heard a Brooklyn accent cowering underneath the Southern drawl, “is that a seedoor?” Steve nodded, “sure. Do you want to look at it?” “Look?” shouted the stranger. “I want to use it! Do you know how many years it has been since I saw a seedoor? Give it to me please!” The man grabbed it, kissed it, then he stood up in his seat and began to shake and shout with fervor! “Borchu es Adon-ai.” The entire first class section just turned around and stared in shock. For the next ten minutes the man stood and shook wildly as he recited the maariv prayer – word for word – without care and concern for anyone who was watching. For those ten minutes he left Louisiana way below, as he ascended to the heavens with the world of his childhood. With a mixture of great pride and a bit of embarrassment, Steve watched. When the man finished praying, Steve presented the small siddur that evoked Jewish memories over the Delta as a memento to the former yeshiva boy.
A man once complained to the Alexander Rebbe that his store was not producing sufficient income. Upon inquiring of the man as to how he conducted his business, the Rebbe was dismayed to discover that the store was open on Shabbos, and a gentile was conducting the transactions on behalf of the Jew. The Rebbe said, “I promise you great success if you take me on as a partner.” The man readily agreed to the Rebbe’s proposal. The Rebbe then said, “ I want to have a fifteen percent ownership in the store.” The man agreed to this stipulation. Finally, the Rebbe said, “Fifteen percent translates into one-seventh ownership. Thus, one day of the week belongs to me. I choose Shabbos as my day of ownership, and I wish that on Shabbos the store should be closed.” Subsequently, the store was closed on Shabbos, and the profits of the store increased dramatically.
Shabbos in Navi
Yehoshua Chapter 19
In this chapter the Navi records the inheritance of the tribes of Shimon, Zevulun, Yissachar, Asher, Naftali, and Dan. In this chapter we find the only instance in Scripture where the word sheva, meaning seven, appears consecutively, as it is said (verse 2) vayehi lahem binachalasam beer sheva visheva umoladah, they received for their heritage Beer-sheba [which is] Sheva, Moladah (the only other instance in Scripture of a similar word appearing consecutively is in Bereishis 7:2). It is noteworthy that Shabbos is referred to as a nachalah, a heritage, and in this verse it is said that in their heritage, they had Beer sheva and Sheva. Perhaps this alludes to the idea that Shabbos, the seventh day of the week, is our heritage. The reason this word appears twice consecutively alludes to the idea that on Shabbos, we receive a neshama yeseira, an extra soul, and the Medrash (Shochar Tov 92:1) states that everything on Shabbos is doubled.
Shabbos in Agadah
In Kabbalas Shabbos we recite the words sof maaseh bimachshavah techilah, last in deed but first in thought. The meaning of this passage is that although Shabbos comes at the end of the week, it entered, so to speak, in HaShem’s thoughts to be created first. The Gemara (Pesachim 54a) states that Teshuvah, repentance, was one of those ideals that were created in the spiritual worlds before the physical worlds were created. The sefarim write that the word Shabbos is derived from the word shav, which means to repent. Thus, Teshuvah preceded the creation of the world, and Shabbos in thought preceded the physical creation of the world.
Shabbos in Halacha
One is allowed to reheat a fully cooked food by placing it on top of a pot that is on the flame or blech. This is only permitted, however, if the lower pot contains food.
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
In the Friday night Shemone Esrei we recite the words atah kidashta es yom hashevii lishmecho tachlis maaseh shamayim vaaretz, You sanctified the seventh day for Your Name’s sake, the conclusion of the creation of heaven and earth. The word tachlis can be broken down as follows: The letters taf, chaf, and yud in mispar katan, digit sum, equal seven, and the letters lamed and taf in mispar katan equal seven. Thus , this word alludes to the idea that Shabbos is the seventh day, and the word further alludes to the idea that everything on Shabbos is double.
New stories Bo 5772
The Chofetz Chaim’s Articulate Polish
In one of the last years of the Chofetz Chaim’s life, the Polish government decreed that every Rav was required to learn the Polish language. In light of the decree, the Chofetz Chaim called for a meeting of Poland’s eminent Rabannim. At the meeting, the Chofetz Chaim declared that this decree could cause the churban of Torah. The Rabannim decided that it was necessary to arrange a meeting with the President of Poland to attempt to annul the decree. The Chofetz Chaim let it be known that he himself would travel to meet with the President, and several Rabbanim agreed to accompany him. Rav Leib, the Chofetz Chaim’s shamash, accompanied him to the meeting in Warsaw, and later told over the story of what had occurred there.
The Rabbanim traveled to Warsaw for the meeting, and the Chofetz Chaim was presented as the Chief Rabbi. The members of the Polish government were astounded that that such a feeble man, who was almost unable to walk, was the Chief Rabbi. The Chofetz Chaim began to speak in Yiddish. “Our Torah says to daven for the welfare of the kingdom. We’re living now in galus under the rule of Poland, and every day after davening, I daven for the welfare of the Polish government. We came here now to discuss the decree that every Rav must know Polish. We are sure that this will be the churban of Yahadus. If the government of Poland does not interfere with our Yiddishkeit, we submit completely to your rule, and will pay all your taxes. But we are obligated to guard our Yiddishkeit as we see fit. If you interfere with our Yiddishkeit, you’ll experience a downfall like all our enemies suffered in all the generations, beginning from Pharaoh the Rasha.”
The Chofetz Chaim finished speaking, and the translator’s face paled. How could he possibly translate what the Chofetz Chaim said? On the other hand, he was afraid to change the words of the Chofetz Chaim, because he knew that the Chofetz Chaim had ruach hakodesh and would surely realize that his words were not translated accurately. But if he would translate exactly what the Chofetz Chaim said, he could not imagine the repercussions! As he was still pondering what to do and say, the President of Poland arose and said to him, “You can sit down, you don’t need to translate a word; just tell me in essence what he wants.”
The translator hurried to say that the Chofetz Chaim is requesting to annul the decree on the Rabannim to learn Polish. The President answered, “There are many languages in the world, and one who speaks Polish may not know English, and one who speaks English may not know Polish, but there is one language which everybody understands, and that is the language of the heart. The Rav spoke with the language of the heart. There is no need to translate, I understood everything.” He immediately sat down and signed a paper canceling the decree. (Shaal Avicha Veyegadcha)
Rav Leibele Kovner Proves Conclusively to the Maskil that There is a Hashem
The great Gaon Rav Leibele Kovner was the great grandfather of the Brisker Rov. On the day he was hired for the prestigious position as Rov of Kovna, one of the Maskilim of Kovna decided to test him. He asked him if he can prove that Hashem runs the world.
“Sure” said Rav Leibele, “Please bring me a Rambam from the shelf.” The Maskil brought the Rambam and Rav Leibele opened up to Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah. He read the words of the Rambam to the Maskil, “The foundation of foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Hashem the preceded all and created all”. Rav Leibele said, “there is your indisputable proof, right here in the words of the Rambam.”
“Not only that” said Rav Leibele, “but even the Raavad, who constantly argues on every disputable point in the Rambam, remains silent in agreement. Even all the commentaries who always ask questions on the Rambam like the Magid Mishneh, Kesef Mishneh, Lechem Mishneh, and Mishneh LaMelech don’t utter a single doubt on the words of the Rambam in this instance. Is there no greater proof than this that there is a Hashem who runs the world?”
Rav Eliyahu Chaim Meisel – The Best Book That Wasn’t A Bestseller
Rav Eliyahu Chaim Meisel, z’tl was the Rav of Lodz and one of the Gedolei Hador in the second half of the nineteenth century. In addition to his gadlus in Torah, he was a gadol in chessed. He spent much effort easing the plight of those who were less fortunate. It was common at the time that poor Jewish children were kidnapped and conscripted into the Russian army, but this never happened under his jurisdiction.
Once, Rav Meisel met with Rav Chaim Ozer, z’tl, and Rav Meisel praised the Sefer Achiezer which R’ Chaim Ozer had recently published. R’ Chaim Ozer asked R’ Meisel, “When we will see a sefer from you?” Rav Meisel responded by emptying his pockets of little folded pieces of paper. They were promissory notes from loans he had signed to enable him to aid widows and orphans. He said, “This is my sefer. I am so busy with problems of this nature that I don’t the time to complete a sefer.” Rav Chaim Ozer responded, “My sefer pales in comparison to your sefer.” (Sidras Tikkun Hamiddos) (www.revach.net)
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Bo 5772
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos
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