Friday, April 11, 2008

The Essence of Shabbos

“These are the elements of the offering of the korban Pesach that supersede Shabbos…” The Torah teaches us that the Shabbos testifies that Hashem created the universe. Although Shabbos is the first memorial of the ma’aseh bereishis and His Providence, it is nevertheless one that goes beyond our actual experience—no person witnessed the act of Creation.

Rav Hirsch zt”l explains that the korban Pesach, like all of the sacrifices of the festivals, takes precedence over the prohibition of certain melachos on Shabbos because it is part of our historical experience. The korban is the means through which we draw near (“karov”) to Hashem at the special moment when we recall acts that revealed Him to us, and our historical memory is the strongest evidence possible. Instead of the korban violating the Shabbos, it actually uplifts it, by revealing the essence of the Shabbos itself.

Rav Eliyahu Lopian zt”l was visiting with the Chofetz Chayim zt”l for Shabbos, and when he and a few others entered the tzaddik’s home after the Friday evening prayers, he stood to greet them. They expected him to begin singing Shalom Aleichem, as is customary, but he surprised them with an interesting explanation.

He stood before them and said, “Right now, I ought to be singing Shalom Aleichem—but the angels have no appetite, and will forgive me if I make them wait a bit. It is clear that my guests, on the other hand, are very hungry…so let us make kiddush straight away.” It was only after kiddush, when everyone had washed and eaten a k’zayis, that they sang Shalom Aleichem and Eishes Chayil.

We greet the angels because they draw down the holiness of Shabbos. But feeding a Jewish guest at the Shabbos table is the very essence of the sanctity of Shabbos! This is the way of tzaddikim—they understand the essence, and can see when it might be necessary to give precedence to that which seems secondary. But only when it upholds the true meaning of that which was primary!


Spiritual Dan said...

I always wonder the limits of halacha and when/how we can stretch the halachic boundaries. Obviously this is why we have a Rabbeim, but there may be personal situations that require quick decisions... for instance, this week I have a wedding, but it's on Shabbos, and it's in a church. The halacha seems more or less established (Rambam, Moshe Feinstein). but you can find leniencies, interpretations... confused.

Micha Golshevsky said...

Ashrechah that you want to keep the halacha!
Once a non Jewish philosopher asked the Maharal why Jews claim superiority over non Jews since the non Jews had many opinions while the Jews have a single path for so many centuries. It is well known that there are many disputes regarding the halachos and what to do, why is that different from non Jews having different religious, after all you also don't practice the same way!
"You are very wrong," the Maharal replied. "We agree on all the essentials. The fact that there are disputes regarding the details is easy to understand and practically unavoidable."
The same is true here. Sometimes a detail (especially a minhag) can be put off or ignored if the circumstances justify this.
But regarding an essential any compromise is often completely prohibited.
To quote my father rebuttal to a certain ignorant Jews claim, "On the contrary, when there is a halachic will there is NOT always a halachic way."
Shalom Aleychem is a custom. If someone is hungry one must surely feed him first.
Entering a church is a very serious problem. It may even be yehareg v'al ya'avor. It may not and to save one's life there are leniencies, but in every case you need to speak with a competent authority who knows when there is really a reason to be lenient and when there is not.
I don't even think your friend will be offended if you explain that it's against your religious beliefs to enter a church.
If he sees that you would really like to attend but can't he will most likely understand.
Halacha has a numerical value of kli, the word for vessel.
Learning and keeping halacha makes a vessel to hold the light of true dveykus to Hashem.
The Noam Elimelech said, Not everything that shines is precious. A precious diamond shines but so does certain types of worthless lichen and moss. The same is true in spiritual matters.
One who goes with halachah with the intention to do the will of Hashem will have the precious light of true connection.
The many people who flippantly toss around false or mistaken leniencies, have a lot of teshuvah to do. Even if they feel spiritual luminescence, this is often from spiritual dark fungus or rot which glows in the dark instead of the precious diamonds of true holy connection.
Hashem should help us keep the halacha and merit the light of true dveykus!

Spiritual Dan said...

I asked my Rav and he said not to go, especially since I am a Kohen. It turns out the ceremony, which was assumed to be non-denominational, in fact was totally "Nazarite". I am very angry. Even the secular Jews were surprised by the ceremony... they were asked to say Amen to things... can you even say Amen to such things? This only strengthens my faith in halacha.

Thank you for your great posts. I am a loyal reader.

Micha Golshevsky said...

Good for you!
One may not say Amen even if his life depends on it! Hashem yishmereinu!
I am not at all surprised it was significantly worse than the sin of entering a church. As it says in Avos: "one sin leads to another."
I am very glad you enjoy my posts and hope you continue to enjoy them. I look forward to future comments!