Friday, September 28, 2007

Shabbos and Breslov, Part II

Here is the second installation of The Spirit of the Law--Shabbos. Moadim L'Simchah!

p.s. If there is anyone out there who would like to help Micha edit his writing so that it can be uploaded, you would be doing him a great kindness. Of course, it takes time and energy, but it is also Torah study. We can't afford to pay anyone, and Yehudis is too busy with work...

Shabbat and Breslov, Part II

By Rabbi Golshevsky

Last week we learned that keeping the Shabbat demonstrates our emuna, and therefore we can understand why observing the Shabbat is compared to fulfilling the entire Torah. The purpose of Torah is to bring a person to emunah, as the Gemara states: “Chavakuk came and condensed the Torah into one Commandment: emuna, as it states, 'Tzaddik b'emunato yichyeh,' 'A Tzaddik lives by his emuna'" (Makot).

According to the Medrash, the Jewish people will be redeemed in the merit of their emuna in Hashem. Everything boils down to emuna. Rebbi Nachman explains the verse "Vayehi yadav emunah," "His hands are emuna" to mean that one's actions are an expression of one's emuna.

The Shulchan Hamevuar learns from the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh that keeping Shabbat will cause a person to have true emunah and as a result, he will repent for his sins and fulfill the entire Torah. Therefore, when a Jew keeps the Shabbat, it's as if he is keeping the entire Torah. The bond that the person who wants closeness to Hashem achieves on Shabbat will impel him to fulfill the entire Torah.

A person who profanes Shabbat in public falls into the category of an idolater with all its accompanying halachic ramifications. (It is important, however, to realize that this is referring to someone who was raised in a Torah-true environment, and the exact definition of that is ambiguous. Each case must be judged separately.)

A baal teshuva from a virulently anti-Semitic Kibbutz was influenced by the following words of Rebbe Nachman to become religious: “The world says: ‘If one eats pig, he should at least let the fat rest on his beard so that other people will not be fooled by him’. I say, 'If one eats pig, he should not let the fat rest on his beard. He should clean it up.'” This kibbutznik began following Rebbe Nachman's advice and tried to do whatever he could, even if it meant cleaning the fat off of his beard, to improve himself, until he finally became completely observant.

The Lev Eliyahu, zt”l, writes that even if two people do the same sin, there is a vast difference between the one who feels regret and the one who does not feel regret. Hashem does not deny the reward for any good deed. Even one who has regrets the bad he has done is rewarded for these feelings of regret. Feelings of regret show that a person's sin was done without thinking (without daat). But if a person does not regret having sinned, it shows a fault in that person's thought process. He is incapable of seeing where he went wrong.

An example of this is a well-known story that happened years ago in Europe. Two unmarried yeshiva students were caught acting inappropriately with members of the opposite sex. When the Mashgiach spoke to the students, one was extremely contrite and obviously regretted his sin. He wept profusely and begged the Mashgiach not to expel him from the Yeshiva. The Mashgiach allowed him to remain. But when the other student was confronted with his sin, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “What did I do wrong? She went to the mikveh first!" (The boy had carefully planned his escapade, making sure that the girl immersed in the mikveh prior to relations. Since she had gone to the mikveh, he justified his actions and did not feel any remorse.) Although the second boy's sin was technically less severe than that of the first boy, since it was done with daat (as seen by the fact that he justified himself afterwards) he was expelled from the Yeshiva, while the other boy was allowed to remain.

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch continues: "…Anyone who keeps the laws of Shabbat is rewarded in this world and the next as we find in the words of the Prophet…"

On these words, the Zer Zahav, (Kamarna) brings the Gemara that says that anyone who takes pleasure in the Shabbat is saved from the war of Gog and Magog. The Baal Shem Tov, zt”l, said that no punishment can befall a person who has true trust in Hashem. We learned last week that Shabbat brings a person to emuna, and emuna brings a person to trust in Hashem (Sefer Hamidot). Therefore a person is rewarded in this world for keeping the Shabbat, since Shabbat observance causes a person to have trust in Hashem, and a person with true trust in Hashem is joyful. After all, if I trust in Hashem as a loving Father, why should I be sad? If I fully trust in Hashem, I cannot be full of myself!

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch continues, "One who sees a delicacy that will not spoil, should save it for Shabbat. On Erev Shabbat we should awaken early to purchase our Shabbat needs. It is better to purchase these needs on Erev Shabbat than on Thursday" (the Mishna Brura writes that if for some reason a person can only purchase what he needs for Shabbat on Thursday, he should purchase it on Thursday rather than wait until Friday).

In Alim Literufa (letter 251) Reb Nosson, zt”l, writes “The most important thing is to start fresh from Shabbat. In truth we must begin anew every single day. How much more is this true about Shabbat which is the source of vitality for the entire week! Shabbat is a day of teshuva, love and joy amidst our enjoyment of the Shabbat delicacies etc. …Everyone knows how truly distant he is from the holiness of Shabbat. However, despite being distant, each person has the holiness of Shabbat drawn upon him according to the good within him. Although this is invariably true, we still must prepare ourselves to receive the holiness of Shabbat. The main preparation for Shabbat is the desire to remember the (deep significance of) Shabbat every single day, especially on Thursday when all Jews are physically getting ready for the holy day, by running to purchase flour and meat etc. Who can grasp the illumination in the heart (of one remembers and focuses on this fact), of the incredible pleasure this gives our Creator and the rectification it makes in all the worlds! Through Hashem’s help, this is something that every Jew (who prepares for Shabbat) merits! We are very fortunate to have merited this precious and wonderful gift of Shabbat, which was secreted in the vaults of the Almighty! We must prepare for Shabbat with great joy and without sophistication. But we must remember that the main preparation (for the Shabbat) is to prepare our hearts and consider how we can merit to the holiness of Shabbat and beg Hashem for a taste of this. I thank Hashem that I was able to mention the holiness of Shabbat which is the root and source of all holiness! I have much to say about this. The main thing is to strengthen ourselves and petition the Creator for to grant us the privilege of receiving the Shabbat with joy, love, and good will. At the very least, we should distance ourselves on Shabbat from anguish, depression or worry especially worries about making a living. Through this may we merit to draw the holiness of Shabbat into the week, so that we can fortify ourselves with a strong trust in Hashem at all times and take tremendous joy in all our good points through the lesson of Azamra (looking for the good in everything). Everything I have written here is enough to give you vitality every day of your whole life! The holy Shabbat is a method of dealing with any problem one is confronted with his whole life long. …One must stand with (connect to) the holy Shabbat and this will nullify his troubles."

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch continues: Each Jew is required to do something himself to prepare for Shabbat. Even if a person has fulltime household help, he or she must personally take some action to prepare for Shabbat. Rav Chisda, for example, would slice vegetables. Since it's a tremendous privilege to prepare for Shabbat, a person should never say, “It's not fitting for me to do such menial work."

The Mekor Chaim, zt”l, explains that on Mount Sinai we achieved the highest possible spiritual level through proclaiming (on Shabbat), “naase vinishma.” We were raised above the first sin and we no longer had to die. Later, through the sin of the Golden Calf, we fell from this elevated spiritual level.

When we prepare for Shabbat, we should do so with the intention of correcting this flaw by returning to the level of “naase vinishma.” In addition, we should have in mind our desire to overcome our bad inclinations through making the effort to do something to prepare for the Shabbat. This means that when a person prepares for Shabbat he should do so with the intention of preparing himself in this world to inherit his portion in Gan Eden.

This is the main connection between Shabbat, Gan Eden, and Olam Haba – the Next World, the world that is completely on the level of Shabbat. Throughout our lifetime, we must prepare for ourselves a place in this exalted world as it states in Pirkei Avot, “If I am not for myself, who is for me?” We must take action to repair the damage we have done in our past as well as in the present. For this reason, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch mentions the rabbis who did something themselves to prepare for Shabbat. We must strive to rectify ourselves through keeping the Torah and performing good deeds. It's a privilege to be able to do something to prepare for the Next World, and Hashem richly rewards a person for that preparation, as the Zohar writes “A person makes his Creator pleasure in this world for a limited time and Hashem rewards him eternally in the next world.”

Rebbi Nachman writes that there is an eternal reward for each and every good deed. Everyone, Jew and non-Jew, is rewarded for their good deeds. The only exception is Amalek, because even their seemingly good deeds are not sincere, and for that reason they will ultimately be destroyed.

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