Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Yisro 5775
(From the archives)
Shabbos all the time
In this week’s parasha the Torah records the Aseres HaDibros, the Ten Commandments. It is interesting to note that all of the Commandments contain an instruction that one must be constantly aware of. For example, the first Commandment instructs us to be constantly aware that HaShem is our G-d. The second Commandment instructs us that we are prohibited from fashioning idols or bowing down to idols. All the Commandments are constant, except for one, and that is the fourth Commandment that instructs us to keep Shabbos. It is said (Shemos 20:8) zachor es yom haShabbos likadisho, remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it. It would seem that the Commandment to remember the Shabbos is only applicable on the seventh day of every week. If this is true, why did HaShem include the Commandment of remembering Shabbos in the list of the Ten Commandments?
Rashi’s interpretation of the Commandment requiring us to remember Shabbos
In order to answer this question, it is worth examining the words of Rashi on this verse. Rashi writes that the word zachor is written in a present tense, which means that one should constantly remember the Shabbos day. Thus, if one encounters a fine item during the week, he should designate it for Shabbos. The difficulty with the words of Rashi, asks the Ramban, is that this does not follow the Halacha stated in the Gemara. The Gemara (Beitzah 16a) states that Shammai would always eat in honor of Shabbos. When Shammai would find a choice animal, he would declare “this should be for Shabbos.” The next day Shammai would find a more preferred animal and he would eat the first one and leave the second animal for Shabbos. Hillel, however, had a different approach. All of Hillel’s actions were for the sake of Heaven, as it is said (Tehillim 68:20) baruch HaShem yom yom yaamas lanu, blessed is the Lord, day by day He burdens us. Thus, how could Rashi write that the explanation of this verse follows the interpretation of Shammai, when the halacha generally follows the opinion of Hillel?
Remembering Shabbos is a requirement throughout the entire week
The answer to this question is that although the halacha follows Hillel, Rashi chose to interpret our verse according to Shammai, because Rashi is explaining this Commandment according to the context of all the Commandments listed. Thus, Shabbos is not limited to the seventh day of the week. Rather, one is required to remember Shabbos throughout the entire week. One can achieve this remembrance by preparing foods for Shabbos, or even by counting the days to Shabbos, as the Ramban cites from the Mechilta.
Taking Shabbos into the week
With this premise we can understand the significance of the custom to eat Seudas Melaveh Malka, the feast that escorts the Shabbos Queen. In addition to paying respect to the departing Shabbos, by partaking in this feast we are also demonstrating how we are bringing the Shabbos into the week. Indeed, the word Melaveh, which is translated as escorted, is associated with the name Levi, who was thus named because Leah declared (Bereishis 29:34) atah hapaam yilaveh ishi eilay, this time my husband will become attached to me.
The Shabbos Connection
Shabbos is in a sense the culmination of the Commandments that are focused on our relationship with HaShem, commonly referred to as mitzvos shebein adam laMakaom, commandments that are between man and his Creator. Our acknowledgment of HaShem as the G-d Who redeemed us from Egypt, and our admission that there is no other G-d besides Him, culminated in our remembering and observing the Holy Shabbos. Shabbos is the day when HaShem rested from all His work, and HaShem’s rest, so to speak, allows us the opportunity to come even closer to HaShem than we do during the weekday. HaShem should allow us to remember the Shabbos throughout the entire week, and through the remembrance of Shabbos, we will remember that HaShem is our G-d Who loves us and bestows all His goodness on His Chosen People.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Gott fun Avraham
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who lived from 1740-1809, recommended that this prayer be recited by men, women and children three times and that the recitation would help ensure success in the upcoming week.
אַז דִי וָואךְ אוּן דֶער חוֹדֶשׁ, אוּן דֶער יָאר זָאל אוּנְז צוּא קוּמֶען… צוּ אַהֲבַת ודבוק חֲבֵרִים טובים, love of and attachment to good friends. This request is certainly unique, as we normally think that “we choose our friends.” Yet, we discover in this passage that even who we associate with is dependent on HaShem’s will, and we must beseech HaShem that we find people who are good influences in our lives and will help us grow in our service of HaShem.
Good morning to everyone
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: Last year my brother, Rabbi Zvi Kamenetzky of Chicago, tried to contact a friend who was vacationing at Schechter’s Caribbean Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. After about 15 rings, the hotel operator, an elderly, southern black woman, who worked at the hotel for three decades politely informed my brother that the man was not in the room. “Would you like to leave a message?” she inquired.
“Sure,” responded Reb Zvi, “tell him that Rabbi Kamenetzky called.”
The woman at the other end gasped. “Raabbi Kaamenetzky?” she drawled. “Did you say you were Raabbi Kaamenetzky?” She knew the name! It sounded as if she was about to follow up with a weighty question, and my brother responded in kind. “Yes.” He did not know what would follow. “Why do you ask?”
“Are you,” asked the operator, “by any chance, related to the famous Rabbi Kamenetzky?”
There was silence in Chicago. My brother could not imagine that this woman had an inkling of who his grandfather, the great sage. Dean of Mesivta Torah Vadaas to whom thousands had flocked for advice and counsel, was. She continued. “You know, he passed away about ten years ago at the end the wintah?” She definitely had her man, thought Reb Zvi. Still in shock, he offered a subdued, “Yes, I’m a grandson.”
“YOOOU ARE?” she exclaimed. “Well, I’m sure glad to talk to ya! Cause your grandpa — he was a real good friend of mine!”
My brother pulled the receiver from his ear and stared at the mouthpiece. He composed himself and slowly began to repeat her words, quizzically. “You say that Rabbi Kamenetzky was a good friend of yours?”
“Sure! Every mornin’ Raabbi Kaaamenetzky would come to this here hotel to teach some sorta Bible class (It was the Daf-Yomi.) Now my desk is about ten yards from the main entrance of the hotel. But every mornin’ he made sure to come my way, nod his head, and say good mornin’ to me. On his way out, he would always stop by my desk and say good-bye. Oh! Yes! He was a great Rabbi but he was even a greater man. He was a wonderful man. He was a real good friend of mine!” (www.Torah.org)
Shabbos in Halacha
טוחן – Grinding
Bread, challah, cake, cookies, and all similar products that are made from flour may be crumbled into tiny pieces. However, one may not use a specialized implement.
Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim Yisro 5775
Have a Wonderful Shabbos!
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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New Stories Yisro 5775
The Surviving Tree
Fanny and Jerry Goose’s story of surviving the Holocaust.
by Menucha Chana Levin
On the day Fania was born to the Stenbock family in the small Polish town of Skalat, her father planted a tree in their garden to celebrate her arrival. Little did he realize on that day in 1922 that Fania and the little tree would become the only living remnant of his family.
Fania had a happy childhood, growing into an energetic teenage girl. Then the Nazis invaded Poland and Fania’s joyful life came to an abrupt end. The Jewish community of Skalat was eventually destroyed but through one miracle after another, Fania managed to survive. While many Polish people helped the Nazis achieve their murderous aims, a Polish priest and nuns risked their lives to save her, hiding her in a monastery where she was dressed in appropriate clothing to disguise her Jewish identity.
She was determined to live as a witness to this horrific era for the sake of the Jewish people.
When the war finally ended Fania returned home only to be devastated to find her family and the entire town destroyed.
They were gone. Each and every one of them. My family, the whole district, my entire community. Gone!
Fania describes her shock discovery in her autobiography, Rising from the Holocaust, “They were gone. Each and every one of them. My family, the whole district, my entire community. Gone! Where could I turn, where could I go? I am alone, I thought, alone in the world with no one. A numbing coldness settled on my heart…”
At that heartbreaking moment, she found the small tree planted by her father growing where her family’s home had been. Among its roots, she discovered hidden heirlooms deep in the earth, buried by her vanished family.
Despite her feelings of solitude, the discovery of her tree and the heirlooms gave Fania the courage to rebuild her life. Her determination and faith in God provided her with hope for a better future.
Not long afterwards, Fania met Jerzy Gusz, a hero from the Jewish underground, the man who would soon become her husband.
Born in 1919 in Berezno, Poland, Jerzy was the youngest of 11 children. His father was a successful butcher who supplied the military and they lived in a large house. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1942, their home was bombed. The parents, sheltered in the basement, survived. Jerzy and one nephew also survived but all the rest of the family were killed in the bombing. They were eventually sent to the Berezno ghetto until the Nazis rounded up most of the Jews for transport to the various death camps. Jerzy’s parents were killed on the spot.
We had nothing to lose – we lived like we were dying tomorrow.
Jerzy fled to the forest and joined the Ukrainian Partisans. In an interview with the Shoah Foundation, Jerzy described what happened to him. “I hid my Jewish identity and they welcomed me because I could butcher their meat. After a year, they lost many skirmishes against the Germans and they disbanded. I escaped to another forest in Western Poland and when I heard people speaking Yiddish, I joined them and we created a Jewish Partisan Group. We had nothing to lose – we lived like we were dying tomorrow. We were liberated by the Russians in March, 1944. Then I was taken into the Russian Army in their Polish division and sent to the front. Ukrainian Nazi sympathizers attacked my division and I was shot in the hand. I lost two fingers and taken to a hospital in Kiev. In October, 1944, I was released and sent to a rehabilitation hospital in Russian-occupied Germany.”
Jerzy described how he met his wife. “While changing trains at a train station in Skalat, a young bookkeeper by the name of Fania, who happened to be at the train station paying some company bills, glanced at me and thought I looked Jewish. I have no memory of her, but a few months later I happened to be in Skalat for a day and went into the bank where Fania worked and she recognized me right away. She knew that a soldier had freedom of movement, and she asked if I could help get her to the American zone. I told her that I couldn’t take her unless she was my sister, or my wife. She said ‘Okay, I can be your wife.’ I agreed and we made the arrangements.
Like many other Shoah survivors whose families had been wiped out, they were both eager to marry and start a new family. On May 15, 1945, Fania’s cousin Rabbi Moshe Shechter performed the Jewish marriage ceremony.
“Our son, Martin, was born February 21, 1946. We travelled throughout Germany until 1949. In Hamburg we got papers to travel to either the US or Canada. My maternal uncle, Abe Raybur, guaranteed me a job in his leather factory in Winnipeg so we boarded a boat to Canada. In August, 1949, we went to Toronto to see Fania’s aunt before we travelled to Winnipeg. Her aunt went to the Jewish Congress and found out that Rabbi Kirshenbaum from the town of London, Ontario could arrange a butcher job for me. In 1950, we bought a panel truck and started J. Goose Family Clothing. Our son, Steven, arrived in 1954.”
The couple chose new Anglicized names for themselves: Fanny and Jerry Goose. Like the small tree her father had planted continued to survive and grow, Fanny and Jerry rebuilt their lives after the war. From the difficult beginning of selling clothing to farmers from their panel truck to opening the first J. Goose Family Clothing store, Jerry and Fanny worked hard to build a well-known retail business in London, Ontario and they prospered.
Becoming respected members of their community, Fanny even became politically influential. She assisted many other refugees and immigrants, happy that her position as storekeeper enabled her to play that role. Doling out advice to immigrants, she had a pay-when-you-can attitude toward those less fortunate. Her compassion earned her the nickname ‘Mother Goose.’ “Every day I found happiness. Every day I could do something good for someone,” she said.
“Fanny and I have created a beautiful family,” said Jerry. They had two sons, Martin and Steven, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. “All have gone on to build families of their own. We built a successful business.”
Hitler took away most of my family and my freedom, but he did not take away my faith.
Jerry attributes his steadfast belief to surviving. “I remain a deeply religious man, who put on tefillin and davened every day and made the shul and Judaism the center of my life. Hitler took away most of my family, he took away my freedom, and he took away what should have been the best days of my young life. But he did not take away my faith, and that is why I remained a survivor.”
Jerry and Fanny were participants in Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation where they gave video testimony documenting their personal account of the Holocaust. In 2004, Jerry and Fanny were honored by the Jewish National Fund for their dedication to their community of London, Ontario.
Jerry died in 2012 at the age of 92. He and Fanny had been married for almost 67 years. In tribute, one of the many people touched by the family’s kindness, wrote: “I remember Jerry’s deep and penetrating eyes, the kind of eyes that have seen too much in one lifetime. Such kindness, patience and gentleness. He was the perfect balance for Fanny’s outgoing, spirited personality.”
Another one of their generous legacies is the Jerry and Fanny Goose Library in Toronto with thousands of books in five languages.
Fanny finally retired from business after many years, wrote her autobiography and keeping up with the times, she even has a Facebook account. (www.aish.com)