Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Tetzaveh 5768
Shabbos in the Parashah
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 28:6) vicheishev afudaso asher alav kimaaseihu mimenu yihyeh zahav techeiles veargaman visolaas shani visheishes mashzar, 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 (Erchin 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 maaseh, 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 ephod, malach, haElokim, and Sukkah. 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. 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 meleches machasheves, 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
Ribbon kol HaOlamim
Published in 5401 (1641)
Shetizakeh osi vies kol binei veisi limtzo chein viseichel tov bieinecha uvienei chol binei adam vichavah uvienei chol roeinu laavodasecha, that You provide me and all my household to find favor and good understanding - in Your eyes and in the eyes of all descendants of Adam and Chava and in the eyes of all who see us - that we may serve You. When one is preparing to greet the holy Shabbos, it is important to bear in mind that if he does not find favor in the eyes of others, it will be very difficult to observe the Shabbos properly. Shabbos is a completely spiritual day. However, we must involve others in the pursuit of spiritual elevation. Thus we pray to HaShem that He grant us favor and good understanding in the eyes of others.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Tzur misgabeinu, our rocklike stronghold. We refer to HaShem as our rock, and also as our stronghold. Essentially, HaShem is our fortress. What is the function of a fortress? When one is secured inside a fortress, he can attack his enemies and simultaneously be protected from within. While we are not engaged in battling physical enemies, we encounter daily the biggest enemy of all and that is the Evil Inclination. Hashem is our rock Who protects us from this devious enemy. Simultaneously, HaShem serves as our stronghold, and by clinging to Him, we can grow in Torah study and mitzvah observance.
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.
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 Navi
Yehoshua Chapter 24
In this chapter the Navi records that Yehoshua summoned all the leaders of the Jewish People and reviewed before them all the great wonders that HaShem had performed for the nation. Yehoshua ended his speech by exhorting the people to serve HaShem wholeheartedly and with truth, and that they remove the foreign gods amongst them. Yehoshua then made a covenant with the people and he transcribed the words on a parchment and placed the parchment together with the Torah scroll. The Navi then records that Yehoshua died at the age of one hundred and ten years and he was buried in Timnas-Serach which is in Mount Ephraim. This brings to conclusion the reign of Yehoshua over the Jewish People. Shabbos is referred to as a bris, a covenant that HaShem makes with the Jewish People. One who desecrates the Shabbos is akin to having worshipped idols. With the arrival of Shabbos, we renew our pact with HaShem that we will remove all foreign influences from our midst, and we will serve HaShem wholeheartedly and with truth.
Shabbos in Agadah
We know that one has to anticipate Shabbos in order to appreciate it. It is fascinating that the Gemara refers to Shabbos as a precious gift in HaShem’s storehouses. Normally one does not anticipate receiving a gift unless he knows he is deserving of the gift. One who marries or has a child may anticipate receiving a gift from friends and relatives. Thus, in order to be worthy of receiving the gift of Shabbos, we must draw close to HaShem throughout the week, and this can be accomplished by anticipating the Shabbos and ridding ourselves from sin and anything that will serve as a barrier between us and HaShem. Then, with the onset of Shabbos, we will enter into the Holy Day with purity and we will truly appreciate this great gift that HaShem has bestowed upon us, His Chosen Nation.
Shabbos in Halacha
Cooked foods that were not placed on the blech prior to Shabbos cannot be placed over the flame or in the area of the blech where they could become yad soledes bo, as these areas can be sued for cooking. One is permitted to warm up foods only on the perimeter of the blech where they cannot become yad soledes bo (110º F).
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
It is said (Yeshaya 45:18) lo sohu viraah lasheves yitzarah, He did not cerate it for emptiness; He fashioned it to be inhabited. Perhaps we can interpret this verse as follows: the word sohu in mispar katan equals 15, and 1+5=6, which alludes to the 6 days of the week. The word lasheves can be read as laShabbos, for Shabbos. Thus, the verse alludes to the idea that we express in the Friday night prayers that Shabbos is tachlis maaseh shamayim vaaretz, the purpose of creation. The world was not created primarily for the 6 days of the week. Rather, the world was created for the purpose of Shabbos.
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Tetzaveh 5768
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