Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
On Shabbos One Indulges in the Physical on a Higher Plane
At the end of last week’s parashah it is said (Devarim 7:11) vishamarta es hamitzvah vies hachukim vies hamishpatim asher anochi mitzvavcha hayom laasosam, you shall observe the commandment, and the decrees and the ordinances that I command you today, to perform them. Rashi writes that that the inference of the words hayom laasosam, today to perform them, is that today, i.e. in this world, one is obligated to perform the mitzvos, whereas the reward is only in the World to Come. The Baal HaTurim in this week’s parashah, Eikev, notes the juxtaposition of the words hayom laasosam to the words vehayah eikev tishmiun, this shall be the reward when you hearken… This teaches us that the reward for the mitzvos that we perform is eikev, loosely translated as the end, i.e. in the World to Come. The Gemara (Brachos 57b) states that Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. One must wonder that if Shabbos is truly a semblance of the World to Come, then why is it that all of our actions on Shabbos revolve around the physical, such as eating and drinking, and according to some, sleeping? Is not the World to Come a place where there is no physical indulgence, as the Gemara (Ibid 17a) states: in the World to Come there is no eating and no drinking? Rather, the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and delight in the radiance of the Divine Presence. This being the case, it would seem that there is no need to indulge in physical pleasures on Shabbos, as one should seek to maximize this ether-worldly experience.
Walking on Shabbos is Different Than the Week
Perhaps the resolution of this enigma can be found in the word eikev. Rashi quotes the Sifri that states that the word eikev means heel, and thus the verse can be interpreted as follows: vehayah eikev tishmiun, if you perform the mitzvos that are normally trampled on by ones eikev, heel, then you will receive all the blessings that I have promised to your forefathers. There are various opinions regarding the nature of these mitzvos that one tramples with his heel. Some opinions maintain that the mitzvos referred to here are the mitzvos that one literally performs with his feet, such as plowing and threshing and other mitzvos which relate to tilling the land. Other opinions maintain that Rashi is referring to mitzvos that people may consider routine, such as reciting blessings and donning tzitzis and Tefillin. I would like to suggest in the context of these verses that the Torah is alluding to Shabbos, as regarding Shabbos it is said (Yeshaya 58:13) im tashiv miShabbos raglecho, if you restrain your foot because it is the Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 113a) derives from this verse that one should not walk on Shabbos in the same manner as he walks during the week. Furthermore, the commentators write that the word regel, literally defined as leg, can also allude to hergel, that which one is accustomed to. On Shabbos one is supposed to indulge in physical actions, albeit in a different manner than during the week.
The Shabbos Connection
This can be the explanation of the statement that Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. On Shabbos one may eat, drink and sleep, but by declaring that his actions are lekavod Shabbos Kodesh, for the sake of the Holy Shabbos, he has deviated from his normal routine, and thus he is akin to one who resides in the World to Come. The reason for this is because essentially, the World to Come is a reflection of how one elevated the physical in this world to a spiritual plane. When one acts in a different manner on Shabbos than during the week, he is elevating the physical to the realm of the spiritual, and this is akin to the World to Come. May we all merit the day that will be completely Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
The composer was Dunash ben Librat, the famed medieval grammarian and paytan who lived from 4680-4750 (920990 C.E.). He was born in Baghdad and, except for twenty years in Fez, lived there his entire life. He was a nephew and disciple of Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon and was acquainted with many of the Sages of his time. Rashi and Ibn Ezra quote him extensively. His name appears four times as the acrostic of the stiches in stanzas 1,2,3, and 6. This zemer is a prayer to HaShem to protect the Jewish People, destroy its tormentors, and bring the Nation peace and redemption.
נְטַע שׂוֹרֵק בְּתוֹךְ כַּרְמִי. שְׁעֵה שַׁוְעַת בְּנֵי עַמִּי, plant a branch within my vineyard, turn to the outcry of my people! What is the association between planting a branch in a vineyard and listening to the plea of the Jewish People? I believe I found the answer to this question while reading the Book INCREDIBLE! By Rabbi Nachman Seltzer. The narrative is about the life of the CEO of Arachim, Rabbi Yossi Wallis, and the INCREDIBLE events in his forebear’s history. I strongly recommend that you read the book, and you will see how powerful it is for a Jew to “plant a branch” in the vineyard of Judaism, i.e. to adhere to the Torah’s principles and to faith in HaShem, so that one’s progeny will flourish. When one plants that branch in the vineyard, one can then expect HaShem to listen to the outcry of His people.
Fish for Shabbos
It was Sivan of 5567/1807, and thousands of joyous Chasidim were anticipating the wedding that would unite two illustrious dynasties. The chassan, Reb Yekusiel Zalman, was the son of Reb Yosef Bunim Wallis, who was the son-in-law of the great Jewish defender, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Reb Yekusiel was soon to be wed to Baila, who was the daughter of Reb Dov Ber, later known as the Mittler Rebbe, who was the son of the Baal HaTanya, Reb Schneur Zalman of Liadi. The town of Zhlobin was chosen as the setting for the wedding, as many of the Baal HaTanya’s Chasidim resided in Zhlobin, which was also equidistant from the towns of Berditchev and Liadi. The Chupah was going to take place on Friday afternoon, as was the custom in those times, and the festive meal would follow on Friday night. On the morning of the wedding day, the Rebbetzen of the Baal HaTanya had a complaint. While the Rebbetzen was willing to prepare the entire Friday night meal, as the custom was that the meal would be prepared by the kallah’s side, there was one slight problem. There was no fish available, and what would a Shabbos wedding meal be without fish? Furthermore, the Rebbetzen had heard that Reb Levi Yitzchak had a custom to always eat fish at a Seudas mitzvah, a festive meal, and if there was no fish, he would recite Kiddush and HaMotzi and not partake in the remainder of the meal. This would surely be unfitting for such a joyous occasion. When Reb Schneur Zalman heard of the dilemma, he declared that Reb Levi Yitzchak himself should be consulted. When Reb Levi Yitzchak heard about the problem, he asked in wonder, “Could it be that there will not be fish for Shabbos? Are there no rivers in this town?” The messenger of the Rebbetzen responded, “the Dnieper River flows nearby, but the river does not have fish.” The Heilegeh Berditchever summoned a horse and buggy and he then sent a message inviting his mechutan, The Baal HaTanya, to join him at the banks of the river. When they arrived at the river, Reb Levi Yitzchak removed a handkerchief and waved it over the river, all the while murmuring verses from the zemer Azamer b’Shvuchin, the famous zemer of the Arizal that is sung Friday night. Reb Levi Yitzchak then called out the words “vinunin urachashin,” which is Aramaic for fish and meat. Suddenly, schools of fish cane swimming towards them from all directions. People ran to get their nets, and soon their buckets were filled with fish, in honor of the Holy Shabbos.
Shabbos in Halacha
קושר ומתיר, – Tying and Untying Knots
Tying and untying knots are forbidden under the Avos Melachos of קושר, tying, and מתיר, untying. The halachos of tying and untying involve many details, including what is deemed a knot and differences between permanent and temporary knots. Such a discussion is beyond the scope of this work; we will merely point out several common applications of these prohibitions in the modern kitchen.
One is prohibited to untie a plastic bag that has been tied with one of the forbidden knots mentioned above. Rather, to remove the contents of such a bag, one must tear open the bag. (One must avoid tearing any letters or pictures that are printed on the bag).
One may not untie a string that is tied around a parcel. One should, if possible, slide the string off the parcel without tearing it. If this cannot be done, one may tear the string or cut the string in a destructive manner.
Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Eikev 5776
Is sponsored לזכר נשמת האשה החשובה מרת חיה אסתר בת ר’ משה צבי הלוי אוקוליקא ע”ה ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.
Have a Wonderful Shabbos!
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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New Stories Eikev 5776
Rebbetzin Jungreis and My Greatness Meter
As the Jewish world mourns her death, I’ll never forget my encounter with this truly great woman.
by Sara Yoheved Rigler
One of the greatest lights of the Jewish people in our age has been extinguished. With the passing of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis yesterday, our world has become dimmer.
Several years ago I was asked to be the emcee at a charity event for women. Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis had agreed to be the main speaker–at no charge to the organization. Her name was a huge draw, and they expected hundreds of women to attend the event, to be held at a major Jerusalem hotel.
I had never met Rebbetzin Jungreis. The day before the event, she allowed me to interview her for Aish.com at Jerusalem’s Hineni headquarters. I had written a bestselling book about a great woman, so I knew how to gage real greatness. When you’re in the presence of a truly great person, she gives you her full attention as if you’re the only person in the world for her at that moment. Sitting across from Rebbetzin Jungreis during the interview, the metaphorical “needle of my greatness meter” was jumping so far to the right that I felt like we were the only two people on the planet.
The tzedaka organization holding the event had no professional staff. It was run by two women volunteers who had founded this organization and were eager to see it grow. They were idealistic and kind, but they had had no experience organizing such a large event.
They planned a program and apprised me of what they expected me to do as the emcee. I was to speak for fifteen minutes, explaining what the organization does. Then there would be a ten-minute video with testimonials of people who had been helped by the organization. Then they wanted me to launch a new project. I was to explain the need for this project and then designated women would circulate through the tables getting volunteers to sign up to work on it. Then I was to give a five-minute introduction of Rebbetzin Jungreis.
The chance to hear Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis drew many more women than expected. They ran out of seats. They ran out of refreshments. With all the chaos, the event started late.
When I was finally given the signal to start, I walked up to the podium on the stage. I gave my 15-minute speech about the organization. The video, after a couple false starts, played. Then I introduced the new project. While the volunteers were circulating through the tables trying to get women to sign up, the crowd started to get restless. They had come only to hear Rebbetzin Jungreis. With no food to eat and the program stretching on endlessly, some people started to shout, “We want to hear Rebbetzin Jungreis! We want Rebbetzin Jungreis!”
I stood helplessly at the podium. They didn’t boo me and they didn’t throw rotten tomatoes, but I felt like they did. I looked at the organization heads, but they were determined to wait until the process of signing up volunteers for the new project was completed. The jeering and catcalls got louder. When they finally gave me the nod, I announced that Rebbetzin Jungreis needs no introduction, and I fled, humiliated, from the stage.
As I walked to my seat, Rebbetzin Jungreis approached me. She clasped my hands in both of her hands, looked me in the eye, smiled at me, and started telling me, in her melodious, Hungarian-accented voice, what a good job I had done. As if there weren’t a thousand restless women waiting for her, as if there was no one in the hall except her and me, she went on encouraging me and praising me. I felt like a popped balloon suddenly re-inflated and rising into the air.
My greatness meter simply exploded. (www.aish.com)