Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Toldos 5777
Shabbos and the Opening of the Wells
In this week’s parashah the Torah relates how Yitzchak dug wells and the shepherds of Gerar quarreled with the shepherds of Yitzchak regarding the wells. The Ramban (Bereishis 26:20) writes that the Torah relates the episode of the wells that Yitzchak dug to allude to the Bais HaMikdash. The first well was called Esek, strife and struggle, as this alludes to the first Bais HaMikdash that was destroyed by the Babylonians, and the second well was called sitnah, hatred, as this name alludes to the second Bais HaMikdash that was destroyed by the Romans. The third well, however, was called Rechovos, expansion, and this name alludes to the third Bais HaMikdash that HaShem Himself will build and there will not be any quarrel or strife involved in the building of the third Bais HaMikdash. Drinking water and drawing the Divine Spirit
One must wonder, though, why the Torah chose to hint to the building of the Bais HaMikdash specifically in the section that discusses Yitzchak’s struggles with the Plishtim. Furthermore, regarding the well that Yaakov encounters prior to marrying Rachel, the Ramban (Ibid 29:2) writes based on the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 70:8) that the three flocks of sheep alludes to the three festivals when the Jewish People make the pilgrimage to the Bais HaMikdash. The flocks drinking the water allude to the drawing of Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit that was manifested in the Bais HaMikdash. There also we must understand why the Torah chose to allude to the Bais HaMikdash with an apparently mundane episode of sheep drinking water.
The gates are open on Shabbos and one can enter those gates with preparation
It is said (Yechezkel 46:1) ko amar HaShem Elokim shaar hechatzer hapinimis haponeh kadim yihyeh sagur sheishes yimei hamaaseh uvayom haShabbos yipaseiach uvayom hachodesh yipaseiach, thus said the Lord/Elokim: “The gate of the inner courtyard that faces eastward shall be closed during the six days of labor, but on the Shabbos day it shall be opened, and on the day of the New Moon it shall be opened.” The Sfas Emes (Toldos 5643) writes that the Mishna (Avos 5:6) states that the mouth of the well was created on Erev Shabbos. The explanation of this is that Shabbos is the well and HaShem allows a Jew to prepare for Shabbos prior to Shabbos. In this way one can connect the days of the week with Shabbos. Thus, writes the Sfas Emes, according to the manner that one aspires to receive the Shabbos with joy, HaShem will show him the correct path to enter into Shabbos.
Shabbos and Yom Tov are times of extra spirituality
The Sfas Emes (Noach 5647) writes further that Shabbos and Yom Tov are the times when the gates of heaven are opened for an extra infusion of spirituality and it is at these times that one can ascend to greater spiritual heights. We can now understand why the Medrash and the Ramban write that the opening of the wells alludes to the festivals because it was specifically on the festivals that the Jewish People witnessed in the Bais HaMikdash the revelation of HaShem in all His glory. This revelation allowed them to draw from the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit.
The Shabbos connection
We have mentioned that on Shabbos one can actually experience the well of water, which is a metaphor to an in increase in spiritual influence in our lives. One must recognize that Shabbos is a well of fresh water that can literally bring the soul back to life. Throughout the week we are engaged in Torah study and performance of mitzvos. Nonetheless, our study of Torah and performance of mitzvos on Shabbos is akin to a man in a desert who discovers an oasis. He may have been drinking water from his canteen but the oasis is on a different plane. Similarly, Shabbos is on a different level than the rest of the week, and it is the Holy Shabbos that provides the spirituality for the rest of the week. HaShem should allow us to recognize the holiness of Shabbos and to prepare for the Shabbos properly so we can drink from its spiritual waters.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
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.)
תּוֹצְאוֹתֶיהָ חֲמִשִּׁים שַׁעֲרֵי בִינָה. אֱמוּנִים נוֹצֵר יְ-ה-ֹו-ָה, its overflows are fifty gates of understanding – faithful ones are guarded by HaShem. The simple reading of the words אֱמוּנִים נוֹצֵר יְ-ה-ֹו-ָה is that HaShem guards the faithful ones. We can suggest an alternative interpretation, as the word אמן, besides meaning faith, also means to cultivate. Thus, we are saying that faith needs to be cultivated, and the word נוֹצֵר here means to observe the growth of faith, like one preserves and guards the cultivation of a tree.
Kosher for now, kosher for eternity
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: This past summer 30,000 Boy Scouts joined together in Virginia for a national Boy Scout Jamboree. Among the myriad groups of scouts who attend this event that occurs every four years are many Jewish Scouts as well. Mike Paretsky, a Vice Chairman of the GNYC Jewish Committee on scouting, was the kosher food liaison to the jamboree. Special food was ordered from O’Fishel caterers of Baltimore, so that the Jewish scouts would be able to nourish their bodies as well. One of the scoutmasters, a Jewish man, caught a glimpse of the kosher offerings. He had never eaten a kosher meal in his life, yet when he saw the special meals, something stirred. He and his troops were being served pork-this and bacon-that for breakfast, lunch and supper, and all of a sudden this man decided he was sick of the monotonous treif stuff. He wanted to eat kosher. Scoutmaster Paretsky gladly let him partake in a meal, but that was not enough for the fellow. The man decided to keep kosher during the entire jamboree!
Mr. Paretsky agreed to accommodate the neophyte kosherphile, but a skeptic approached him. “Mike,” he said, “why are you wasting your kosher food on this fellow? He is not going to eat kosher after this is over, and he observes absolutely nothing! Why waste the food on him?”
Mike answered with an amazing story of the Chofetz Chaim. When Russian soldiers entered the town of Radin, Jewish townsfolk prepared kosher meals for the Jewish soldiers in the Czar’s army. Soon their acts of charity seemed to fly in their face as they saw the soldiers devour the food and then stand on line to receive the forbidden Russian rations. When they complained to the Chofetz Chaim and threatened to stop preparing kosher food, he reflected with an insight that must be passed on to generations.
“Every mitzvah that a Jew does, every good deed and every bit of kosher that he eats is not a fleeting act. It is an eternity. No matter what precedes or ensues, we must cherish each proper action of a Jew.” (www.Torah.org)
Shabbos in Halacha
Wringing and Laundering
כיבוס – Laundering
It is forbidden mideoraisa (by Torah Prohibition) to scrub any wet fabric or to rub two parts of the fabric against each other.
This stage of laundering is forbidden with the use of all materials, whether absorbent or not. Thus, although one is permitted to wet a plastic tablecloth, one may not scrub it while wet (neither with one’s hands nor with an implement).
With plastic, one is allowed to brush lightly to loosen dirt; the prohibition is to rub forcefully., However, with absorbent fabric, one is prohibited even from rubbing lightly. [Note: this prohibition applies only to soft materials, not to hard surfaces such as wood.]
Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Toldos 5777
Is sponsored לזכר נשמת האשה החשובה מרת חיה אסתר בת ר’ משה צבי הלוי אוקוליקא ע”ה ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.and as a zechus לרפואה שלימה חיה דינה חביבה בת שושנה בתוך שאר חולי ישראל.
Have a Wonderful Shabbos!
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363
New Stories Toldos 5777
From Baptist Minister to Orthodox Jew
Moshe Boldor’s harrowing odyssey from hunted renegade in Communist Romania to freedom in the U.S. as an observant Jew.
by Ronda Robinson
Jean Boldor was an auto mechanic and driver for the Director of Mines in Romania, in 1983. He wanted to escape the Communist country where he was born and freely study the Bible. “In a Communist country, you cannot do anything you want,” he says.
The Romanian government forced citizens to celebrate Communist holidays. Boldor thirsted for more. “For whatever reason I was attached to the Old Testament,” he recalls, “and read about the people of Israel and the prophets. It fascinated me how God took the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.”
Always drawn to Biblical learning, Boldor didn’t know until much later that he had Jewish roots. His great-great-great-grandmother was Jewish. From there, the trail grows cold. The Jewish community in his native Lupeni was decimated during World War II, when Romania became a satellite of Nazi Germany and Jews lost their shops and citizenship. At the end of the war thousands of Jews fled Romania. It is estimated that by the end of the 1960s, the Romanian Jewish community numbered no more than 100,000.
Wanting to share the joy he found, Boldor began to teach the Bible to young people. “The Communists did not look kindly upon my involvement, so I was taken to the police station many times to be interrogated, handcuffed and beaten – and given time to reflect on my activity.”
Lay people like Boldor were arrested for asserting their religious beliefs; they weren’t allowed to have Bibles. At age 20, he applied to emigrate to the United States where he could pursue Bible studies.
“From that moment on, I was followed everywhere because I was considered a threat to Communism,” he remembers. “When you applied to leave, they thought you were a danger.”
For five years Boldor lingered in Romania with no end in sight. Life was growing more difficult, so he decided to run away but was caught on a train headed toward the Yugoslavian border.
Military police put him under 24-hour arrest in a room full of screaming people with broken arms and broken feet who received no medical attention. They told him of being beaten with AK-47 assault rifles. After paying a monetary penalty, he was freed and went home.
Then in August 1988, Boldor and a friend, Ion, tried to flee again, going by train and on foot to the border. “I prayed to God to save me. I read Psalms when I had a few minutes. We went three days without drinking any water,” he says.
Villagers saw the two men and alerted the military who surrounded them. The soldiers began to beat them.
“Usually beatings were so bad that very few survived the next week,” Boldor says, “But one sergeant saw that I had a book of Psalms and ordered the soldiers not to touch me. Once again I saw the Hand of God and I thanked Him.”
He was put in military prison for two weeks. Then a friend in Austria sent Boldor $100 through his bank, which was used to bribe an Army captain to let Boldor and Ion go free.
They began plotting their third escape.
“I read in the Book of Esther that Mordechai and Esther fasted three days and three nights to save the Jewish nation from Haman, so I did the same. I fasted three days and nights and cried to God to help us this time succeed.”
Boldor’s prayers were answered. In September 1988 he and Ion took a train to the Yugoslavian border. They jumped out at a station close to the border and hid in a stand of hay. They slept by day and walked or crawled by night.
When they reached Yugoslavia they walked to Belgrade, about 500 km, 310 miles. In Belgrade they climbed atop a train to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, to avoid detection by the police.
From Ljubljana they hopped a train to Germany and Austria and at last arrived at a refugee camp near Vienna, their clothes full of dust and oil. Their treacherous two-week journey was over.
“It’s hard to describe what it means to be free and alive after such a long and dangerous trip. When we got there we found out that 180 people had been killed by the Romanian border. So God once again saved my life,” says Boldor.
He kept a promise to God to study the Bible if he survived. As a refugee from a Communist country, he obtained a visa from Canada, where he learned Biblical Hebrew and earned a bachelor’s degree in religious education at a Christian college. He also became an ordained Baptist minister.
Eventually Boldor married, had four children and moved to Seattle, Washington, where he started a small business taking care of seniors. It was during his first trip to Israel in 2004 and visiting the Cave of Machpelah in Hevron where the patriarchs and matriarchs are buried that the Baptist minister had a spiritual crisis. He had always believed Abraham was buried in Shechem, as the Christian Bible stated. Now he found otherwise. He started to compare the Hebrew and Christian Bibles and saw other discrepancies. Torah won him over.
“When I went to Israel I saw the beauty of Judaism and Shabbat. It was life-changing for me. The Torah passages came alive,” he says. He followed the murmurings of his heart as a child and decided to convert to Judaism.
Back home in Seattle he resigned his pulpit, began going to synagogue and learn Torah intensely, and started keeping the laws of Torah. The conversion process took 10 years. The former Baptist minister, who changed his name to Moshe, now keeps a kosher home and prays with a minyan three times a day.
His marriage didn’t withstand the changes. His wife didn’t want to convert to Judaism and the couple divorced. Three of their children converted, with one of the daughters making aliyah.
Boldor, 56, studies through an online yeshiva and makes Torah the center of his life. “It is really great to be part of the Jewish nation and follow in Avraham’s footsteps.” Today he owns and manages a nursing home in Seattle.
He transforms the hardships he endured to help others. “I am thankful to God because I was able to come home to Torah and Israel and I am trying to help other Jews. The time is not too late to come home and join the Jewish nation of Israel through following the Torah.
“Sometimes I cry living here in America. In Romania they handcuffed me, tortured me, put me in prison for reading and learning the Torah. Here we have freedom but sometimes it is wasted. My prayer is for God to use me to help other Jews appreciate the beauty of Torah.” (www.aish.com)