These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: #1067 Cleaning Plastic Tablecloths, Contact Lenses on Shabbos. Good Shabbos!
Shabbos Comes Automatically; Yom Tov Requires Preparation
In Parshas Ki Sisa, in connection with the mitzvah of Shabbos, the Torah says, “…for it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I am Hashem, Who Sanctifies you.” [Shemos 31:13]. The Chasam Sofer points out that there is a fundamental difference between Shabbos and the other Yomim Tovim. On Shabbos, the Ribono shel Olam and kedusha [holiness] arrives, whether we are ready or not, and whether we are prepared or not. The mere fact that it is Shabbos invests us and imbues us with a certain kedusha.
We understand that the more a person prepares for Shabbos, and the more a person makes him or herself a receptacle for Shabbos – the higher will be the level of kedusha that the person achieves. However, the bottom line is that this pasuk teaches that the Shechina [Divine Presence] joins us on Shabbos and makes everybody holier, whether we prepared for it or not.
Holidays are not like that. There is a concept in Kabbalah [Jewish mysticism] called “Arousal from Above” and “Arousal from below.” Sometimes there is an inspiration that comes from Above and sometimes the inspiration needs to come from us. By Yom Tov, we need to prepare ourselves to achieve the effect that the holiday is supposed to have upon us. It is a case where the “Arousal from below” must come into play. Shabbos is a case of “Arousal from Above.”
This is part of what Chazal mean by the expression “The Almighty said ‘I have a wonderful present in my treasure house – and it is named Shabbos'”. When someone gives a gift, the recipient does not necessarily need to deserve it. He does not necessarily need to prepare for it.
That is Shabbos. It is a gift. Every single week the Shechina comes down. We sit there at Kabbalas Shabbos whether we just ran into Shabbos or not. The Divine Presence arrives and rests on every single Jew no matter what his level of Shabbos preparation may have been.
The Sefer Bei Chiyah makes an interesting observation based on this Chasam Sofer. When we put back the Sefer Torah in the Aron Kodesh on Shabbos, we say Tehillim [Psalms] Chapter 29 “Mizmor L’Dovid” [A Psalm to David]. On Yom Tov, when we return the Sefer Torah to the Aron Kodesh, we recite Tehillim Chapter 24 “L’Dovid Mizmor” [To David a Psalm]. Why the difference? He shares a beautiful idea.
Throughout Tehillim, there are varying introductions to the various chapters. Dovid HaMelech was inspired to compose the chapters of Tehillim. Sometimes, without any preparation, he was simply inspired by Ruach HaKodesh to compose a chapter of Tehillim. When that occurred, the introductory phrase is “Mizmor l’Dovid.” There are other chapters of Tehillim where Dovid HaMelech was inspired to write the Mizmor [psalm chapter], but he first had to prepare himself to be in an inspired state of mind so he could compose such a Mizmor. That is when the introductory phrase is “L’Dovid Mizmor“, meaning Dovid HaMelech had to first prepare himself, and then prepare the Mizmor.
Sefer Bei Chiyah explains beautifully. On Shabbos which is, as we are explaining, the great present that the Almighty gives us whether we made the preparation or not – the appropriate chapter of Tehillim to read is Mizmor L’Dovid Havu l’Hashem Bnei Eilim. On Yom Tov, where the level of holiness is a result of our preparation, it needs to be L’Dovid Mizmor.
Using this concept, he also wants to explain a passage in the Talmud Yerushalmi. The halacha is that some people have trustworthiness (ne’manus) with regards to Terumos and Masros. This means they can be trusted that they removed the required gifts for the Kohanim and the Leviim, and therefore their crops (which grew in Eretz Yisrael) are now edible rather than being forbidden tevel.
The Yerushalmi says that one who purchases fruit in Eretz Yisrael from one who is generally not trusted regarding the proper taking of Terumos and Masros is nevertheless allowed – on Shabbos — to inquire of the seller if he in fact removed these Priestly and Levitical gifts from the fruit, and he can believe him. This permission is unique to Shabbos; during the week one is normally not allowed to merely question the seller and believe his testimony that he in fact removed the Terumos and Masros.
The Yerushalmi explains the reason for this novel ruling: “Because the fear of Shabbos is upon him!” On Yom Tov, there is not such a halacha. We do not have a license to trust an Am HaAretz to tell us that he removed the Priestly gifts from the food he sold us. What is the difference between Shabbos and Yom Tov? Even if this person may be an ignoramus and may have entered into the synagogue from the field just three minutes before Shabbos started, when he sat there for Kabbalas Shabbos and he heard the words “Come my Bride; come my Bride” – this Am Ha’Aretz was invested with the holiness of Shabbos and that does something to his spiritual essence. The fear of Shabbos is now upon him. He is no longer suspect of lying and saying that something had tithes taken off from it when that was not the case. Even the most ordinary Jew is special on Shabbos – he has the Fear of Shabbos upon him.
On Yom Tov, this is not true. Yom Tov is special; Yom Tov is beautiful; Yom Tov has its own holiness, but it requires preparation. Therefore, a person who is an Am Ha’Aretz, if he does not have that preparation, there is no such concept as “The Fear of Yom Tov is upon him.”
So, Shabbos has this special quality. However, Yom Tov, by virtue of the fact that you have to “work” to prepare yourself for its holiness has its own advantage as well. The Gemara [Beitzah 16a] comments on another pasuk in this week’s parsha – “…On the seventh day He rested and va’yinafash:” [Shemos 31:17] Rav Shimon ben Lakish states that Hashem gives man an extra soul (neshama Yeseira) on Shabbos Eve and takes it from him at the conclusion of Shabbos. This “neshama Yeseira” is part of this extra holiness that we all receive on Shabbos. This is why we smell Besamim [sweet fragrances] on Motzai Shabbos. It is like when a person faints, they put smelling salts in front of his nose to restore him, so too, we need to be restored on Motzai Shabbos after having suffered the loss of our neshama Yeseira. We had this special gift for the duration of Shabbos. When Shabbos left, it left. That’s it! Easy come, easy go!
Tosfos says in Pesachim and Beitzah that this is why we do not use Besamim in Havdala at the conclusion of Yom Tov. It is because Yom Tov does not bring with it a neshama Yeseira. That is a special concept that is part of the “Divine Gift” we are given from G-d’s Treasure House on Shabbos. It does not apply to Yom Tov. Therefore, Motzai Yom Tov, we do not need to be “restored” because we did not lose anything.
Tosfos in Tractate Pesachim raises a question for which he does not give an answer: What about a Yom Tov that comes out on Sunday (i.e. – it begins Motzai Shabbos)? The Kiddush we say at the beginning of such a Yom Tov incorporates Havdolah for the now departing Shabbos and is referred to by the acronym YaKNeHaZ (Yayin—wine; Kiddush; Ner (Candle); Havdalah, Zman (She’hechiyanu blessing). However, we do not make a Beracha on Besamim as part of this Kiddush-Havdalah combination!
Tosfos asks: Why not? Shabbos is over so we lost our Neshama Yeseira. We are not getting a new Neshama Yeseira for Yom Tov so we should need to be restored from our post-Shabbos loss!
The Avnei Nezer and the Sefas Emes in Tractate Pesachim argue with Tosfos, and say that we do have a neshama Yeseira on Yom Tov. That is why when Yom Tov begins on Motzai Shabbos, you do not need Besomim, becomes the Neshama Yeseira remains throughout Yom Tov. If that is the case, why don’t we use Besomim with Havdalah at the conclusion of Yom Tov? The Avnei Nezer answers – it is because the “Neshama Yeseira” of Yom Tov does not leave us. As we mentioned, we need to work for the inspiration of Yom Tov. A Yom Tov for which a person had to work to inspire himself to earn the Neshama Yeseira does not depart immediately after the holiday with an “easy come easy go” disappearance. It is “hard come and hard go”. It does not leave us.
Unlike Tosofos, who explains that the reason we do not have Besamim on Motzai Yom Tov is because we do not have a Neshama Yeseira on Yom Tov, the Avnei Nezer explains we do have a Neshama Yeseira on Yom Tov but we do not lose it and therefore do not need to be “refreshed” by pleasant fragrance.
The Circle the Almighty Will Make for the Righteous in the Future
The other idea I would like to share on Parshas Ki Sisa is based on a thought of the Chasam Sofer which was expanded by the sefer Bei Chiyah.
Moshe Rabbeinu asks the Ribono shel Olam, “Show me please your Glory.” Moshe Rabbeinu said he would like to see the Kavod of the Master of the Universe. The Almighty responds to Moshe Rabbeinu: “…Behold! There is a place with Me; and you will stand on the rock. When My glory passes by, I shall place you in a cleft of the rock, and I shall cover you with My palm until I have passed. Then I shall remove My palm and you will see My back, but My Face may not be seen.” [Shemos 33:21-23] This is the literal translation of the words of these pesukim.
The Talmud [Berachos 7a] explains that this question and answer between Moshe Rabbeinu and the Almighty was more than just a question of “I want to see what You look like.” Moshe was asking the most fundamental question that has bothered mankind since the beginning of time. This question (to which in our lifetime we will never really know the answer) is the question of Tzadik v’Rah lo, Rasha v’Tov lo [Why do bad things happen to righteous people and good things happen to wicked people?] The entire book of Iyov is devoted to trying to understand this concept.
The Chasam Sofer explains the Ribono shel Olam’s answer to this question. The answer is, “And you shall see My back, but not My front.” If you want to understand why bad things happen to good people in this world while they are happening — that you will never understand! “My Face” – indicates “up front” – while it is happening. That you will never comprehend. However, “seeing My Back” indicates that sometimes, in retrospect, we can look back at an event that while the event was happening, we could not figure out why on earth it should be happening, but in retrospect, occasionally, we can have a better understanding of why it happened.
A classic example of this is the story of Esther. When Esther was chosen to be the Queen of King Achashverosh, I am sure that for a person of her spiritual stature, it was the worst thing that could happen to her. Here is a righteous woman and she has to consort with this disgusting person. Why is this happening? “What terrible mazal that I got chosen as the Queen!”
The Megillah may take us only 45 minutes to read, but the events portrayed therein took over ten years to transpire. From the time that Esther was chosen, years passed when Esther had no idea why she was chosen. As it turned out years later, the fact that she was chosen as queen proved to be the salvation of the entire Jewish people. This is an example of “You will see My Back but My Face you will not see.” This is what the Chasam Sofer writes.
The Gemara says in Maseches Taanis [31a] “In the future G-d will make a circle for the righteous (machol l’Tzadikim).” This means, as it were, that Hashem will sit in the middle of a circle like a groom at his wedding and the Tzadikim will all dance around Him. When we dance in a circle around the Chosson, not only do we see the face of the groom, we see also his back. In this world, we will not see His Face. We will not understand the way He conducts His world, up front. However, in the future, Hashem will be in the middle of the circle, we will dance around Him and even be able to see (and understand) His Face – i.e. why things happen when they happen.
This is what the Tzlach in Maseches Pesachim [50a] writes. The Gemara says, “the future world is not like the present world” (lo k’olam hazeh olam habah). In this world, we recite the blessing “Blessed is He who is Good and does Good” (haTov u’Meitiv) on good news, and we recite the blessing “Blessed is the True Judge” (Dayan haEmes) on evil tidings. In the future world, we will make the blessing “Blessed is He who is Good and does Good” on all news. The Tzlach explains that this does not mean that in the future there is not going to be bad news. There still could be bad news, but even on the bad news we will make the HaTov u’Meitiv bracha, because we will understand why it is happening. This is the circle that the Almighty will make – not only will we see His Back, but we will see His Front as well.
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Ki Sisa is provided below:
- # 046 Dealing with Illness on Shabbos
- # 089 Returning From a Medical Emergency on Shabbos
- # 137 The Census: Can Jews Be Counted?
- # 184 You and the Seriously Ill: How Much of a Responsibility?
- # 230 The Mitzvah of Shekalim and Davening Musaf
- # 274 Saying Tehillim at Night
- # 320 The Melacha of Dyeing
- # 364 The Melacha of Memachek
- # 408 Fax Machines on Shabbos
- # 452 Kiddush Shabbos Morning
- # 496 Tallis: Bringing It Home On Shabbos
- # 540 Machatzis Hashekel
- # 584 The Meat Delivery At Your Door
- # 628 Mincha – How Early, How Late?
- # 671 Neigel Vasser- Washing Hands When Arising
- # 716 Shaliach Mitzva: Is He Always Safe?
- # 760 Can You Sell Your Aveiros?
- # 804 Great Grandchildren
- # 848 Oy! The Fridge Light Is On
- # 892 Borer: Can You Separate White Meat from the DAron Kodesh Meat?
- # 936 The Obligation to Learn Tanach
- # 979 Chilul Shabbos to Save a Person Who Will Die Shortly
- #1023 The Onion That Was Cut With a Fleishig Knife
- #1067 Cleaning Plastic Tablecloths, Contact Lenses on Shabbos
- #1110 Washing Your Hands Before Mincha
- #1153 Rinsing Out Your Mouth On A Fast Day
- #1196 Taking a Choleh to the Hospital on Shabbos: You or a Non-Jew?
- #1240 Borer Shailos: Piles of Seforim, Pots in the Fridge and the Messy Freezer
A complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.yadyechiel.org/ for further information.