Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Lech Lecho 5777



Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Lech Lecho 5776

No Evil on Shabbos


In this week’s parashah the Torah records a dispute between Avraham and his nephew Lot. Avraham discovers that Lot is allowing his shepherds to graze the sheep in other people’s property. It is said (Bereishis 13:8-9) vayomer Avram el Lot al na sehi mirivah baini uveinceho uvein roay uvein roecha ki anashim achim anachnu, halo chol haaretz lefeonecho hipared na maalay im hasemol vaiminah veim hayamin viasmeilah. So Avram said to Lot; “Please let there be no strife between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not all the land before you? Please separate from me; If you go left then I will go right, and if you go right then I will go left.” The commentators wonder what happened to Lot, who at the time that Avraham set out on his journey, was righteous. How could Lot have turned sour so suddenly? The standard answer to this puzzle is that Lot was blinded by the wealth that he gained in Egypt. Once a person becomes wealthy, his worldview changes, and Lot was no different. What is interesting is that Avraham chose to abandon Lot at this juncture. Although no one seeks strife, it is difficult to understand why Avraham did not attempt to reconcile his differences with Lot regarding the grazing of the sheep. The Torah merely states that immediately subsequent to the quarrel, Avraham requested from Lot that he depart from his midst. It would seem that Avraham felt that until now Lot was dependent on him, whereas now, with his newly acquired wealth, Lot would be able to fend for himself. This being the case, Avraham decided that he could no longer tolerate Lot’s presence. This idea is reflected in the words of the Ramban (Shemos 19:1), who writes that it is likely that HaShem only gave the Torah to the Jewish People and the Erev Rav (the rabble that left Egypt-see Rashi to Shemos 12:38) were separated from the Jewish People. This teaches us that when the righteous are on a mission, they must separate themselves from evil.

The Shabbos Connection

Similarly, in the prayer of Kegavna that is recited Friday night by those who pray Nusach Sefard, it is said: when the Shabbos arrives, she unifies Herself in Oneness and divests herself of the Other Side (any trace of impurity); all harsh judgments are removed from her, and she remains alone with the Oneness of the holy light… All wrathful dominions and bearers of grievance flee together-and there is no power but she in all the worlds. Despite the fact that during the week we may encounter people and ideologies that bespeak evil, on the Holy Shabbos there is no place for evil. Given the fact that we have just emerged refreshed and purified from the Yomim Noraim, the Days of Awe, and the great joy of Sukkos and Simchas Torah, it is worth taking stock of how we honor the Shabbos. I once heard a Rav say that we are prohibited from bringing into the Sukkah utensils that will violate the sanctity of the Sukkah. Yet, are we as particular as to what we allow into our homes?! The same principle should apply with regard to the Holy Shabbos. We welcome the Shabbos by declaring that HaShem is our King and that Shabbos is the source of all blessing. In order to be true recipients of that blessing, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we do not engage in mundane talk on Shabbos and that we are preoccupied with prayer, Torah study and offering songs and praises to HaShem. In this manner we will surely merit to honor and delight in the wonderful gift of Shabbos that HaShem bestowed only upon His Chosen People, and then we will merit the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, and a place in the World to Come, which will be a day that will be completely Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Kel Mistater

This mystical Zemer was composed by Avraham Maimin, whose name with the addition of chazak, is formed by the acrostic. Avraham was a student of Rabbi Moshe Kordevero, a member of the Kabbalistic school of the Arizal, and he lived from 5282-5330 (1522-1570 C.E.)

בְּרֵאשִׁית תּוֹרָתְךָ הַקְּדוּמָה. רְשׁוּמָה חָכְמָתְךָ הַסְּתוּמָה, in the beginning there was Your preexisting Torah, inscribed with Your mysterious wisdom. While we acknowledge that HaShem’s wisdom is a mystery, we must be also cognizant of the fact that HaShem has granted His Beloved Nation the ability to plumb the depths of the Holy Torah. Indeed, Dovid HaMelech prayed (Tehillim 119:18) גַּל עֵינַי וְאַבִּיטָה נִפְלָאוֹת מִתּוֹרָתֶךָ, unveil my eyes that I may perceive wonders from Your Torah.

Shabbos Stories

Shabbos Food from Heaven!

There was once a salesman from Deal, New Jersey, whose business required him to travel around the country for several weeks at a time. He was an observant Jew, and he always tried to schedule his trips around stops for the Sabbath in places where kosher food was more readily available. This way he could stock up for the coming week. One of his usual stops for Shabbos was in Memphis, Tennessee. On one of his trips to Birmingham, Alabama, he contacted the president of a company which he was hoping to get an account with. His attempts in the previous years had been unsuccessful. However, this particular year he was pleasantly surprised. The president wanted to meet with him, and he made an appointment for that day. Unfortunately, the president was in a meeting which took longer than he had expected, and the salesman was told to return the next morning, which was Friday. The same scene repeated itself the next morning, and the salesman needed to get to Memphis, pick up his food, and check into his hotel before sundown. He burst into the president’s office and told him it was now or never. He received a small order, and left. He made it to Memphis too late to get his food, but he decided to at least spend the Sabbath in the better hotel across the street. Embittered by the “mess” he had gotten himself into he took a room and began to unpack. To his utter disbelief, he found in the closet of room a certified kosher meal enough to serve ten people. He even found wine! He could not imagine where it came from, but it had obviously been abandoned. He thanked G-d for the wonderful gift and enjoyed the Sabbath. Some weeks later he was back home with some friends, and he overheard them speaking about their trip to Memphis, and how it had been cut short by a health problem. “What ever happened to all that food we brought in?” one of them said. The salesman interrupted. “I know what happened to it.” All eyes were now on him. “I ate it.” [The story is taken from the book Visions of Greatness, by Rabbi Yosef Weiss.]

Shabbos in Halacha

Wringing and Laundering

Activities Affected by These Prohibitions 

Cleaning a Wet Surface

One may clean an area that is slightly wet with a dry rag. On the other hand, one may not clean an extremely wet area with a dry rag, as the water will saturate the rag and will, in turn, be squeezed out.

One must use discretion in this matter, as that amount of water needed to saturate varies from item to item. Therefore, one should not wipe or scrub a wet surface unless one is certain that no sechita will occur.

Note: One may never use a sponge on Shabbos, as mentioned earlier. In addition, we will see later that sponges are deemed to be muktza.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Lech Lecho 5777

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New Stories Lech Lecho 5777

My Husband’s Broken Collarbone

And my lesson in self-centeredness.

by Emuna Braverman

My husband broke his collarbone last week.

We wanted to create some really exciting story about the black diamond ski slope he was on in the Swiss Alps or the mountain he was rappelling down or the sharks he was swimming with, but he was actually just jogging in the neighborhood and tripped. He landed in such a perfectly wrong position that surgery was required in order to reattach all the tendons. It’s a long recovery with no carrying or lifting and, for the moment, no driving (thank God for Uber!), but in the end, thankfully it’s just a hassle. It’s not life threatening and it doesn’t prevent him from working.

Despite this optimistic outlook, I have to confess that I was feeling a little sorry for myself. It happened during Sukkot so I was walking around the last days schlepping tables and chairs in and out of the house and bags of garbage and recycling etc. etc. and complaining about it all. The words “I have to do everything around here!” may not have actually escaped my lips (I am able to exercise a modicum of self-control after all) but I sure thought them.

I was in that grumpy mood when I met a friend for lunch last week. She is someone with whom I have a wonderful connection but we don’t see each other that often, so I was looking forward to catching up. I told myself that I wasn’t going to say anything about my husband – it wasn’t that big a deal, I wasn’t looking for pity and/or compassion (Okay, yes I was!) and the conversation didn’t need to revolve around me.

She was busy on her phone when I arrived and asked how she was. “I’m dealing with something,” she said cryptically, “but first let’s hear about you.” I couldn’t have asked for a better opening. I was off to the races – the broken collarbone, the surgical procedure, the ramifications for my husband and for me – although I did try to keep the whiny, complaining tone out of my voice.

And it was a good thing I did. When I stopped to catch my breath she filled me in on her family news. “My husband needs a kidney transplant” she burst out.

“Whoa,” I said, “now I’m really embarrassed. You let me go on and on about this broken clavicle and you’re dealing with this?”

I was mortified. As our conversation continued it turned out that the procedure for getting a kidney is much more complicated than I realized. There are a whole series of matches and donations, all of which have to work perfectly in order for a patient to receive a compatible kidney. As we sat down to eat, she had just received a text that there was a slight glitch with one of the donors and a possibility that the surgery would be postponed.

Luckily I only ordered soup because I lost my appetite. She was calmly outlining the details of this serious medical situation affecting her family and I had allowed myself down the rabbit hole of self-pity over a broken collarbone? The Almighty is always right there, right next to me, giving me that wake-up call, that reality check, that little zetz that I need, to keep me focused on what really matters and to remind me to have a positive attitude.

I am concerned for my friend and her husband and I am praying that everything goes smoothly. Not only has focusing on her situation taken my attention away from mine but it provided me with that much needed perspective. I’m just sorry it was at their expense. I can still get a little grumpy. I can still wonder why “no one” is helping. I can still feel a little frustrated. But now I stop myself. Now I focus on how grateful I am that the accident was relatively minor, as was the surgery – and that, thank God, there is surgery available for these types of injuries.

The tendency to focus on self is so great and the effort needed to overcome it is proportionate, but the Almighty in His great love (much to my chagrin – and joy) is constantly putting me in situations where I am nudged to overcome my self-centeredness. And grumble just a little bit less. (

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