Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Tetzaveh 5776
On Shabbos We Are Protected from Foreign Influences
In this week’s parashah the Torah records the instruction that HaShem gave to Moshe regarding the holy vestments to be worn by the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, and his sons. One of the eight garments worn by the Kohen Gadol was the Ephod, which was like an apron. It is said (Shemos 28:8) וְחֵשֶׁב אֲפֻדָּתוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָלָיו כְּמַעֲשֵׂהוּ מִמֶּנּוּ יִהְיֶה זָהָב תְּכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר, the belt with which it is emplaced, which is on it, shall be of the same workmanship, it shall be made of it, of gold; turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool, and twisted linen. The Meshech Chochmah writes that the Gemara (Archin 16a) states that the Ephod served to atone for the sin of idolatry. The Gemara elsewhere (Kiddushin 40a) states that regarding idolatry, even if one has an idolatrous thought, it is akin to having actually worshipped idols. Thus, our verse alludes to this idea, as the word vicheishev can be interpreted to mean thoughts, and the words kimaaseihu mimenu yihyeh alludes to the idea that the thoughts are considered like a מעשה, an action. Perhaps we can expound further on this idea. Why is this idea hinted to specifically regarding the ephod? It is noteworthy that there are a few words that equal the same number in gematria, numerical value. These words are אפוד, מלאך, הא-להים and סוכה. All these words equal 91 in gematria. What is the association between these words? A Sukkah symbolizes protection from foreign influences. When the Kohen Gadol would enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, he was required to be completely focused on his role of gaining atonement for the Jewish People. Were the Kohen Gadol to entertain one deviant thought, he would die inside the Holy of Holies. Thus, the Kohen Gadol was required to be akin to a malach, an angel. Elokim means G-d, and this Name is also used to depict one who has ascended to great spiritual heights. The manner in which one gains spiritual perfection is by not allowing foreign influences to penetrate one’s inner domain. Thus, it is fitting that the ephod served to atone for idolatry. The ephod was worn over the tunic and the robe, thus symbolizing protection from all external influences.
The Shabbos Connection
We do not currently have the Bais HaMikdash and the Kohen Gadol serving within, but HaShem has bestowed upon us His precious gift of the Holy Shabbos every week. Shabbos is the opportunity that we need to be shielded from foreign influences so that we can ascend the spiritual ladder. On Shabbos one is prohibited from performing מלאכת מחשבת, intended labor. On Shabbos one should focus on avoiding the performance of any prohibited act. Furthermore, one should focus on delighting in the Shabbos, and he will then be spared from any negative influences.
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
רְאֵה לִגְבֶרֶת אֱמֶת. שִׁפְחָה נוֹאֶמֶת. לֹא כִּי בְנֵךְ הַמֵּת. וּבְנִי הֶחָי, recognize the true mistress – the handmaid dares say: ‘No, for your son is the dead one and my son is the live one!’ This passage, depicting our plea to HaShem to favor us over the sons of Yishmael, teaches us how important the power of prayer is. While we certainly know in our hearts that we are the favored son, HaShem desires our prayers to overcome the deception of the Yishmaelim, and then he will surely bring to an end the oppression from our enemies, and we will then merit the long awaited Ultimate Redemption, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.
Devotion to Torah at all Costs
Chacham Ezra Attiah, zt”l, venerable Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef, one of the greatest Torah personalities of his time and mentor to generations of great Sephardic leaders, came from very humble beginnings. His parents had been blessed with a son and daughter, and they prayed for another child. They took the long trek by donkey to Tedef, a small town in the Ottoman Empire, where the remains of Ezra HaSofer were interred. Yitzchak and Leah Attiah poured out their hearts, entreating Hashem for a son. Leah vowed that if Hashem granted her wish, she would name him Ezra and dedicate him to a life of Torah. She was blessed one year later, when she gave birth to Ezra. Twenty years later, Leah was left alone with Ezra when her husband passed away. Her older son and daughter had already married. It was now just the two of them with no source of material support. The normal thing would have been for able-bodied Ezra to go to work in order to support his mother. Leah would hear nothing of it. She had dedicated her son to Torah learning. She left no room for discussion. She did anything and everything to bring in a meager living to sustain the two of them. The end of the week found Leah both emotionally and physically drained. On Friday nights they would eat their meager meal, and Leah would exert superhuman effort as she sat in her chair and listened to the sweet sound of Torah emanating from her son. As her weary body relaxed and her bones cried out for sleep, she would begin to doze. Seeing his mother fall asleep, Ezra would quickly close his sefer. The Halacha was clear: One may study by the light of a kerosene lamp only so long as someone else was there. Otherwise, he might accidentally adjust the wick. Leah’s body may have been spent, but her senses were sharp, as she would quickly awaken. The sweet hum of Torah had stopped. “Do not worry, my child. I am awake. You can return to your Torah learning,” she assured him. The tears and devotion of this woman were rewarded when her son became the great rosh yeshivah.
To Listen to a Tzadik at all Costs
The Machnovke Rebbe, HaRav Avrohom Twerski, zt”l, was an individual of unusual intensity, a genuine tzaddik, whose diligence in Torah study and warmth and sensitivity to every human were evidenced in his life. He never uttered an inessential word. He feared nothing that was part of this world. His shul was home to Jews of all walks of life who came to experience the presence of a truly holy man. One Yom Kippur evening, his shul was filled to capacity. Among the throng of worshippers was a man in his late sixties who had walked several miles to attend the services in the Machnovke Bais Medrash. This individual was not religious. Why was he there? Certainly, he could have found a shul that was closer to his home. When questioned why he had come, he gave the following reply. “As a young man in Russia, my father told me about the Machnovke/Moscow Rebbe. He was a great and holy individual to whom I should turn when necessary. I emigrated to Eretz Yisrael and raised my family there, regrettably distancing myself from religion. During the Yom Kippur war, my only son was called to naval duty. I remembered my father’s instructions to go to the Machnovke Rebbe when I needed a blessing. That night, I, with my young soldier son in hand, entered the spiritual realm of the tzaddik. We presented the son’s military orders to the Rebbe and asked for his blessing for a safe return. “‘Do not join your company until tomorrow morning,’ the Rebbe said. “’But I will be court-martialed if I am late,’ my son protested. The Rebbe would not yield. Under no circumstances was the young soldier to join that night. Later that night, in the midst of our anxious ferment, we were informed that the entire unit which he was to have joined had been decimated by an Egyptian warship. There were no survivors. “At first, I neither understood nor agreed with the Rebbe, but my father taught me to listen to a tzaddik. I, therefore, sided with the Rebbe and denied my son from joining his unit. This action saved his life. This is why I always come here in Yom Kippur – to appreciate, to pay gratitude, to be in the Rebbe’s presence.” [Reprinted with permission from the Shema Yisrael Torah Network. For information on subscriptions, archives, and other Shema Yisroel classes, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org]
Shabbos in Halacha
מוליד – Creating a new Entity
- Circumstances in Which Causing the Creation of a New Entity is Permitted
There are some circumstances in which one is allowed to cause the creation of a new entity (nolad).
- Cases of Necessity
In a case of necessity, one may rely upon the lenient opinion that allows causing liquids to freeze and causing solids to dissolve.
With regard to nolad, the expression ‘cases of necessity’ includes preparing for guests or to enhance the enjoyment of Shabbos (Oneg Shabbos).
One is also allowed to freeze liquids on Shabbos to prevent their spoilage.
Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Tetzaveh 5776
Have a Wonderful Shabbos!
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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New Stories Tetzaveh 5776
He Has a Visa!
A Long Island rabbi attended a taharah (ritual ceremony to prepare a deceased Jew for burial) for an individual whose background was rooted in a Chasidic community. Chevra Kadishas (burial societies) are often immune to the emotions, trauma and dread that would normally accompany a dead soul on a table.
The Chevra did their job almost perfunctorily, with hardly a word spoken, and that did not strike the rabbi as strange. Years of working with cadavers can numb the senses of even the toughest men. All of a sudden, a murmur bounced back and forth between Chasidic members of the Chevra. “Er hut a visa? (He has a visa?)” they queried. Then the conversation took a stranger turn. They began to mumble about a first class ticket.
The rabbi became concerned. Why was anyone talking about travel plans during this most sacred of rituals? That was not the time nor place. It just did not make sense.
Immediately the room became silent, it was now filled with awe and a sense of reverence. “Er hut a visa!” exclaimed the senior member of the group. The entire Chevra nodded and the atmosphere suddenly transformed.
They continued to prepare for the funeral as if the deceased had been a great sage or Chasidic Rebbe. The rabbi was unable to understand the sudden change in atmosphere until the eldest man beckoned him. “Come here,” he said. “I’ll show you something. The old man lifted the arm of the deceased to reveal seven numbers crudely tattooed on the dead man’s forearm. “Do you know what they are?”
“Of course,” replied the Rabbi. “They are the numbers that the Nazi’s tattooed on every prisoner in the concentration camps.”
“No,” the old man said. “These numbers are the first-class ticket to Gan Eden. They are the visa and they are the tickets. Period.”
Toys are the Best Tikkun for Your Husband
The young widow who entered Reb Shlomo Zalman’s study was obviously distraught. In addition to the loneliness and pain she experienced, a sense of urgency was about her. She had recurring pangs of guilt. She wanted to do something spiritual to memorialize her dear husband. Perhaps she should establish a free loan fund or contribute books to the Yeshiva library. Or perhaps there was an act of spiritual self-improvement that she should perform.
Reb Shlomo Zalman waited till she finished and then instructed her to listen to his advice very carefully. “I understand your need to do something spiritual as a tikkun (uplift) for your husband’s soul. This is my advice to you. Go out and buy some toys for your children, take them to the park and enjoy life with them. Forget the quest for the great spiritual tikkun and help your children rejoice in life. That will bring the greatest tikkun for your husband.”
Let’s Watch What We’re Saying
Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman tells a childhood story that still haunts him when he thinks about it. One time on the bus ride home, the boys’ conversation wandered to a certain wealthy and prominent member of their community. As is often the case, being in the public eye sometimes means having one’s quirks and idiosyncrasies on constant display, and having to deal with the ridicule of those who make it their business to make fun of people whose success rubs them the wrong way.
The boys on the bus began discussing this man; it didn’t take long for the conversation to go awry. One of his classmates, whose skills of imitation were of some renown, regaled the assembly with his near-perfect take off of the man’s ‘penguin-like’ walk and posture, and his ‘frog-like’ voice. Others took their turns discussing critical issues such as ‘how little he gives to charity considering how rich he is,’ ‘how overdone that last chasuna he made was,’ and ‘how cool he thinks he is in his new car.’ They were having a grand-old time. Little did they realize the man’s son was sitting (cowering?) in the seat just in front of them, hearing everything they said.
When the bus stopped at the son’s stop and he got up to leave, some of the boys began to realize what had just happened. Were those tears in his eyes? As he turned to leave, he left no doubt. His face was red with crying, and he bitterly called out, “I hate you—you’re so mean,” just as the bus doors slammed behind him.
There are no words to describe the shocked silence of the boys left sitting on the bus. There was nothing to say that could right their wrong. They just sat there, each of them considering how he must have felt listening to them the whole time.
“Afterwards I thought to myself,” says Rabbi Wachsman, “what if one of us had been fast enough to jump off the bus together with the boy? What if he started chasing him down the street? The boy was in no condition to speak to anyone—he was devastated.
“‘Go away—I’m not mocheil you—ever! Don’t bother asking for mechilah (forgiveness). Just leave me alone!’
“‘Please stop—stop running, just for one minute. I want to talk to you.’
“‘Stop chasing me—I told you I’m not mocheil—go away!’
“Eventually, he manages to catch up with the boy. ‘Please, just give me one minute… I heard your father has a big factory, and that he pays well— do you think he’d give me a summer job?’”
What could possibly be more insensitive? He’s just spent his entire bus ride ridiculing his father to his son’s great shame, and now he thinks he can run down the same son in the street and ask his father to do him a favor? It’s beyond absurd.
Yet how many times do we commit the identical crime? Avinu she- ba’Shamayim, our Father in Heaven, is also the loving Father of the people we choose to slander, ridicule, and degrade with our derogatory speech. How does it feel, so to speak, for a Father to have to endure hearing His beloved son spoken of in such terms? How much pain does He feel? How great is His anger?
Hours, and sometimes minutes later, the time for tefilah (prayer) inevitably comes—it could be shacharis, mincha, or ma’ariv. And there we are, siddur in hand, supplicating our Father to grant us all our needs. “Oy Tatte—give us health, give us wealth, give us nachas!” Under such circumstances, do our prayers stand a chance of gaining favor in His eyes? (www.Torah.org)