Friday, February 22, 2008

Ki Sisa 5631 Second Ma'amar

Chazal tell us that although every mitzvah was given to the nation of Israel publicly, Shabbos was given privately as the Torah tells us in this week’s parshah, “בֵּינִי וּבֵין בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹת הִוא .../It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel …” What do Chazal mean when they say that Shabbos was given to us privately? Obviously, the nations of the world know about Shabbos. In answer to this question, Chazal explain that although the nations of the world know about Shabbos, there are aspects of Shabbos that the nations of the world do not – cannot - know about. There is an aspect of Shabbos called, “נְשָׁמָה יְתֵרָה/additional soul,” which only Jews can experience. Only Jews can experience it because Shabbos was given only to the nation of Israel to experience.

The Torah alludes to the additional soul in the words, “... וּבַיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שָׁבַת וַיִּנָּפַֽשׁ/… and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” In a play on the word “וַיִּנָּפַֽשׁ/He was refreshed,” Chazal say that it suggests, “וַוי אָבְדָה נֶפֶשׁ/Woe, the soul is lost.,” Chazal therefore translate the pasuk, “Since He rested, woe, the soul is lost.” This Chazal is difficult. The plain meaning of the Chazal is that the additional soul is lost as a result of His resting. How can this be? The additional soul is given specifically when He rests. It takes leave when Shabbos ends.

The Sfas Emes explains that Chazal’s hint derives specifically because we experience Shabbos. Since we experience the additional soul on Shabbos and feel its loss when Shabbos ends, we know that it exists. In the words of Chazal, “Since He rested, woe the soul is lost.” Only because we experience Shabbos can we experience the loss of the additional soul when Shabbos ends.

The Ba’al Shem Tov takes this idea a step further. The Ba’al Shem Tov says that the experiencing the additional soul can help us to serve God better. The allusion that the additional soul leaves when the day ends is given on Shabbos specifically, to encourage us to take advantage of it. The additional soul helps us experience a closeness to God that we would otherwise not be able to experience.

The Sfas Emes explains further, that cultivating a sensitivity towards experiencing the additional soul thereby being sensitive to its loss with the onset of the coming week, can lead us to repentance. After such an enlightening experience, who would not want to forsake his sins in its favor. The end result of this sensitivity is that the enlightenment spills over to the following week making it easier for us to experience and serve God during the weekdays as well. May we merit it!

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