Last week's parashah ends: "When Bnei Yisrael saw Moshe's face, that
the "ohr" / skin of Moshe's face had become radiant, Moshe put the mask
back on his face until he came to speak with Him." This week's
parashah then opens with the laws of Shabbat. R' Shlomo Halberstam z"l
(1907-2000; the Bobover Rav) explains the connection between these two
sections as follows:
Following Adam's sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge, the Torah
states (Bereishit 3:21): "Hashem G-d made for Adam and his wife
garments of "ohr" (with the letter "ayin") / skin." Our Sages say
that in the Sefer Torah of the sage Rabbi Meir, this verse said -- instead
of "garments of `ohr'" / skin" -- "garments of `ohr'" (with the
letter "aleph") / light." Commentaries explain that this midrash refers to
Rabbi Meir's ability to look beneath the coarse "garments" that hide the
spirituality inherent in the world and to extract the "light." Thus, for
example, the Gemara (Chagigah 15a) relates that Rabbi Meir continued to
study Torah from the sage Elisha ben Avuyah after the latter became a
heretic. The Gemara says of Rabbi Meir's relationship with his
teacher: "He (Rabbi Meir) found a pomegranate - he ate the fruit and
discarded the rind."
When Bnei Yisrael committed the sin of the Golden Calf, they fell from
their lofty spiritual level, exactly as Adam had through his sin. All of
the "light" that Bnei Yisrael forfeited thereby was given to Moshe, and it
was that light that created the radiance seen on the 9&3 / skin of Moshe's
face. However, we say in the Shabbat morning prayers: "Moshe rejoices in
the gift of his portion, that You have called him a faithful servant."
The gift in which Moshe rejoices is that radiance, but like a faithful
servant, Moshe shares that radiance with his people. When? On Shabbat.
This is alluded to in the opening verse of our parashah: "Moshe
assembled the entire "edah" / assembly of Bnei Yisrael." The
word "edah" reminds us of the "ed" / "jewelry" of which Bnei Yisrael were
stripped after the sin of the Golden Calf (see Shmot 33:6). For Shabbat,
Moshe gave that "jewelry" ("light") back to the people. (Quoted in Otzrot
Tzaddikei U'geonei Ha'dorot)
"Moshe assembled the entire assembly of Bnei Yisrael and said to them:
`These are the things that Hashem commanded to do them: On six days work
shall be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of
complete rest for Hashem; whoever does work on it shall be put to death.
You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath
day'." (Shmot 35:1-2)
R' Yosef Eliyahu Henkin z"l (1891-1973) asks: Considering what follows,
should not the Torah have said, "These are the things that Hashem
commanded not to do them"? Also, why does the Torah use a phrase -
"On six days work shall be done" - which implies that one is
obligated to work?
He explains: Shabbat represents two competing concepts that man is charged
with balancing: bitachon / the recognition that everything that happens is
in G-d's control, and hishtadlut / man's obligation to help himself. In
the Aseret Ha'dibrot in Parashat Yitro (20:11) we read that Shabbat
commemorates Creation. This alludes to man's obligation of hishtadlut,
for we read at the end of the Creation section (Bereishit 2:3), "G-d
blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it He abstained from
all His work, which G-d had created to do." This verse teaches that
the first Shabbat was the end of G-d's regular overt involvement with the
world. From that point on, man would appear to be in charge. And, this
verse conveys G-d's blessing that man will succeed when he uses G-d's
creation "to do" for himself.
However, man can be led astray if he thinks that he alone is in control.
Man must temper his hishtadlut with bitachon. Therefore, the Aseret
Ha'dibrot in Parashat Va'etchanan (5:15) remind us that Shabbat also
commemorates the Exodus. We were helpless slaves in Egypt, and only
because G-d redeemed us did we become free. (This, explains R' Henkin, is
why Shabbat is not one of the universal Noachide laws. Creation was an
event that affected all of mankind, not only the Jews. However, without
the Exodus, the message of Shabbat would be incomplete and even
In this light, we can understand our verses. The Torah uses a phrase -
"On six days work shall be done" - that implies that one is
obligated to work because man is obligated to engage in some form of
hishtadlut. "These are the things that Hashem commanded to do
them," for if man relied on miracles alone, he would not even perform
mitzvot. Instead, he would believe mistakenly that G-d's Will will be
done whether he (man) lifts a finger or not.
Chazal teach that just as Shabbat is a sign of our covenant with Hashem,
so are tefilin. [This is why we do not wear tefilin on Shabbat.] R'
Henkin observes: The tefilin on the arm alludes to hishtadlut, for the arm
is the instrument of action. The tefilin on the head alludes to bitachon,
for the head is the seat of the mind, where trust in G-d develops.
(Perushei Ivra, Part II, Ma'amar No. 1)
"You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath
day." (Shmot 35:3)
We learn in the mishnah (Shabbat 44a), "One may move a new [oil] lamp on
Shabbat but not an old one [because it is sullied and therefore disgusts a
person]. The sage Rabbi Shimon says, `All lamps may be moved except one
that was alight during Shabbat'."
R' Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov z"l (1698-1760; founder of the chassidic
movement) observes: The halachic dispute in the mishnah may be interpreted
allegorically in light of the verse (Mishlei 20:27), "A man's soul is the
lamp of Hashem." We are taught that all souls are permitted to leave
Gehinnom on Shabbat except those souls that are the most sullied with
sin. Paraphrasing the mishnah: those lamps (souls) that are like new may
be moved (from Gehinnom) while those lamps (souls) that have become
habituated ("nityashnu" – the same root as "old") with sin, may not be
However, the Zohar, which was authored by the same Rabbi Shimon who is
quoted in the mishnah, teaches that all souls may leave Gehinnom on
Shabbat except those who transgressed Shabbat. Again, paraphrasing the
mishnah: All lamps (souls) may be moved (from Gehinnom) except those that
were alight on Shabbat, i.e., which transgressed the laws of Shabbat.
(Ba'al Shem Tov Al Ha'Torah)
"He made all the utensils of the Altar -- the pots, the shovels, the
basins, the forks, and the fire-pans -- he made all its utensils of
copper." (Shmot 38:3)
R' Shalom Schwadron z"l (1912-1997; the "Maggid of Yerushalayim") asks:
Our Sages teach that it was inappropriate to act in a stingy manner in the
Temple ("Ain aniyut b'makom ashirut"). Why, then, were these utensils
made of copper and not of silver or gold?
In a similar vein, we learn in the Mishnah (Tamid 5:5) that the daily
removal of the ashes from the altar was done with a silver utensil, not
gold. The Gemara explains that a gold utensil might be ruined, and G-d has
pity on the property of the Jewish People. Therefore He commanded that
silver be used.
But why, asks R' Schwadron, didn't Hashem command that a gold utensil be
used and simply cause a miracle to occur such that the gold would not be
ruined? He answers that Hashem specifically designed this halachah to
teach us the lesson that the Gemara imparts, i.e., that He has pity on the
property of the Jewish People.
Perhaps, concludes R' Schwadron, the use of copper utensils on the busy
altar, where utensils undoubtedly wore out quickly, is a manifestation of
this same pity that G-d demonstrates for the property of the Jewish
People. (Lev Shalom)
About "Today's Learning"
Periodically, we remind readers about the various Torah study programs
which are "advertised" in the "Today's Learning" in the header of each
issue of Hamaayan.
The first listing in "Today's Learning" is the Mishnah Yomit, a program of
daily mishnah study. Every day, participants study two mishnayot. A
complete cycle through the Six Orders of the Mishnah lasts about six
years. The program was founded in 1947 by R' Yonah Shtenzel z"l as a
commemoration for the victims of the Holocaust. Today's listing, "Avot
1:11-12," means: Tractate Avot (Ethics of our Fathers), chapter 1, mishnah
11 and mishnah 12.
The second listing is the Halachah Yomit, a program for the daily study of
those halachot which a Jew is most likely to need in his lifetime. The
Halachah Yomit cycle consists of two parts. By way of background, the
16th century work Shulchan Aruch, the universally accepted code of Jewish
law, consists of four divisions. These are: Orach Chaim (including laws
of prayer, Shabbat and Yom Tov), Yoreh Deah (including laws of kashrut,
niddah, mikvah, Torah study, honoring parents, charity, vows, and
mourning), Choshen Mishpat (civil laws), and Even Ha'ezer (marriage and
divorce). The well-known work Mishnah Berurah is a commentary on the
Orach Chaim section.
The first part of the Halachah Yomit cycle involves the daily study of
three paragraphs of Orach Chaim. However, because there are many laws
that every Jew must know that are not found in Orach Chaim, time is
devoted to studying those subjects from the 19th century work Kitzur
Shulchan Aruch / the "Abridged Code of Law." This study progresses at the
rate of five paragraphs a day, although not always consecutive
paragraphs. The selection of which paragraphs of Kitzur to study was made
by R' Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz z"l (the Chazon Ish; died 1953).
The listing, "O.C. 92:9-93:1," means Orach Chaim, chapter 92, paragraphs 9-
10 and chapter 93, paragraph 1. (These particular paragraphs deal with
decorum during prayer.) A complete cycle lasts slightly more than three
The third listing in "Today's Learning" is the Daf Yomi, the daily study
of a page of the Bavli / Babylonian Talmud. This program was initiated in
1923, and a cycle lasts 2711 days - approximately 7 1/2 years. The
current cycle began in March 2005.
Talmud Yerushalmi Daf Yomi, the fourth listing in "Today's Learning," is
the daily study of a page of the Jerusalem Talmud (as opposed to the more
widely-studied Talmud Bavli). There is a page for every day except Tishah
B'Av and Yom Kippur. This program was founded by R' Simcha Bunim Alter
z"l (Gerrer Rebbe; died 1992).
The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study
and discussion of Torah topics ('lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah'), and
your letters are appreciated. Web archives at Torah.org start with 5758 (1997) and
may be retrieved from the Hamaayan page.
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