Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Yisro 5776
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
Tzama Lecho Nafshi
This zemer was composed by the great medieval commentator and poet Avraham Ibn Ezra whose name is found in the acrostic of the verses
נְסוֹגִים אִם אָבוּ. וּמִדַרְכָּם שָׁבוּ. טֶרֶם יִשְׁכָּבוּ. בֵּית מוֹעֵד לְכָל חָי, those gone astray, had they but desired and repented from their way! Before they go to rest in the place appointed for all life. Shabbos is a time for repentance, and while one must always repent from his errant ways, prior to Shabbos is an auspicious time for one to repent from his sins and return to 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
מוליד – Creating a new Entity
- The Prohibition
- Freezing and Defrosting Dry Foods
Dry food items are not subject to this prohibition, as they retain their solid form whether frozen or thawed. However, foods that contain gravy are subject to molid and should neither be frozen nor defrosted in a hot area on Shabbos.
For example, challah, chicken and kugel may be frozen, or defrosted near an oven (Where there is no question of cooking) but a soupy cholent may not. [If a frozen item is covered with some rice, it is proper for one to shake off the ice before placing it near a source of heat for defrosting.]
Occasionally, a fully defrosted food has some congealed gravy on it. Such a food may not be placed near an oven to dissolve its gravy.
Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Yisro 5776
Have a Wonderful Shabbos!
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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New Stories Yisro 5776
The Amazing Life of Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald
Community activist, international spy swapper and hostage mediator, political mastermind, mentor for troubled teens, beloved camp director and dedicated Jew.
by Suri Cohen
The last text we got from Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald, two days before his death on Wednesday, January 20th, was a photo of him and a friend, up to their necks in the sunny blue waters of a Miami swimming pool. Rabbi Greenwald was radiating his trademark ebullience, and the picture was cheekily captioned, “It’s 16 degrees in Monsey.”
It was to that photo that my mind inevitably drifted when we received the shocking news of his untimely passing. For it encapsulates so much of what made him unique and so very beloved – the slightly rakish insouciance, the unwillingness, or even inability, to stay within the neatly defined borders of convention, the sense of fun that made his chronological age of 82 appear like part of the joke, and the infectious joie de vivre that seemed to include the entire world in its orbit.
Equal parts James Bond and revered mentor to thousands, in the unlikely guise of a rumpled Orthodox Brooklyn Jew with an offbeat sartorial sense, Rabbi Greenwald’s credentials – community activist, political mastermind, mentor for troubled teens, creative camp director, international spy swapper and hostage mediator – strain at the confines of cliché. The most cursory Google search will take the reader on a breathtaking geopolitical tour spanning decades.
Following a stint as a campaign aide to New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, he served as Richard Nixon’s liaison to the Jewish community prior to the 1972 election. After Nixon was re-elected, Rabbi Greenwald was given a Washington office with a White House phone number, thus ensuring that his calls would always be answered. He used his newfound clout with the Departments of Agriculture, Housing, Labor, and Education for the benefit of the needy and the underserved within the Jewish community. “I would bring groups to Washington to meet senators and congressmen, to prove to them that we also had a needy underclass. I had to counter the stereotype of the rich Jew,” he told me in a 2012 interview in his Monsey home, whose walls were studded with letters and photos of the rabbi with presidents and politicians.
Along with family portraits, he was also pictured with many prominent and revered rabbis within the Orthodox community. “There’s barely a rosh yeshiva (yeshiva dean) or chassidic rebbe I would meet,” recalled a son in his eulogy Wednesday night, “who, upon learning who my father was, wouldn’t tell me, ‘You have no idea what your father did for me.'”
Although he left government to pursue a business career after Nixon’s impeachment, Rabbi Greenwald maintained all his high-level government contacts.
“Even though at this point I was a private citizen, wherever I went, governments knew that I had U.S. government backing. But everything was always through back channels; it all had to be kept quiet and secret until the job was done. If you really want to help people, that’s the only way. Publicity is dangerous and is always going to arouse opposition.”
Seeking to avoid the limelight, he was content to leave headline-making to others, although the unspoken rule did not preclude his eventual participation in high-stakes clandestine rescue operations. An early success was the release of Miron Marcus, an Israeli national living in Rhodesia whose private plane was shot down over Mozambique, where he was imprisoned in solitary confinement until Rabbi Greenwald’s appearance on the first night of Passover, the culmination of months of diplomatic maneuvering.
He was also a key figure in negotiating the freedom of Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, as well as that of molecular biologist Vladimir Raiz and his wife Carmela. He was successful in procuring improved living conditions for Lori Berenson, an American Jew imprisoned in Peru, and in brokering the liberation of Raul Granados, who was kidnapped by leftist guerrillas in Guatemala City. As well, he was often an articulate spokesman defending Orthodox interests before a sometimes hostile American media.
During a September 1997 visit to Lithuania along with a delegation of rabbis, Rabbi Greenwald embarked on negotiations with the Lithuanian government that culminated in the release and burial of several desecrated Torah scrolls. A day before the burial, he was invited to address the Lithuanian Parliament. As Lithuanian law prohibited burial of religious objects, Rabbi Greenwald explained the Jewish perspective to the legislature, and convinced them to ratify an exception to their statute, which they dubbed the “Grinvaldis Law”. Having lobbied on behalf of Lithuania’s inclusion in NATO, he was successful in intervening with that country’s Prime Minister to prevent the razing of the Jewish cemetery of Vilnius, the site of which had been slated for a shopping mall.
Although he was a larger than life figure within the community for his political connections and the scope of his activities – including an unlikely stint as ambassador from the African bantusan of Bophuthatswana to the United States – his unique genius lay in his ability to find the spark of Godliness within every single human being he met, thus empowering many who had lost faith in themselves to reclaim their humanity. Founder and director of a girl’s camp, Camp Sternberg, for over 50 years, he was visionary in his incorporation of a division for special-needs children within the camp, thus training and sensitizing hundreds of girls through hands-on acts of kindness and caring with this challenged population.
And, of course, there were the “adopted” children – scores of kids over the decades who found themselves in need of a place to go, to whom Rabbi Greenwald and his remarkable wife Miriam opened their doors, and provided a loving home, for months, and sometimes for years. As one of their children reminisced at the second funeral held in Jerusalem, “I would come home from yeshiva, and find new siblings in the house. I became, over the years, a brother and an uncle to so many.”
The stories are legion – the children society gave up on whom he refused to abandon, knocking on doors until he got them readmitted to school, found them employment, married them off, mentored them as their own families grew.
His son recalled the time his father was blackballed by some zealots within the community who disapproved of the rabbi’s methods and activities. “My father got the sweetest revenge. He supported some of their children for years, and got their grandchildren accepted into yeshivas when nobody wanted to take them in. He got revenge his way.”
Rabbi Greenwald had no ego. He truly loved humanity, lived to help others, and had absolutely no need for recognition or acclaim. The pleasure he derived from spreading happiness was its own reward.
My husband, who prayed and studied Torah with him daily, recalls him as seeming to move within a cloud of joy. “He would come into shul always, somehow, chuckling. And people would just gravitate to him, to hear his jokes, to warm themselves by his light.”
As I entered the building where his funeral was held, the energy in the room was electric, the raw pain and sense of loss palpable. For a brief moment, personal differences were elided, as we all felt the gravitational pull of connection to this great and beloved man, who walked with kings, princes, and presidents, and yet whose heart and vision were big enough to see within us what sometimes we ourselves could not see – the person God intended each of us to be. (www.aish.com)