Thursday, August 21, 2008

Eikev 5631 Third Ma'amar

The difference between the Amidah (Shemonah Esrei) prayer that we say on Shabbos and the one we say during the week is the number of brachos comprising the prayer. The first three brachos and the last three are always the same. The number of middle brachos, however, differ. During the week we say thirteen middle brachos. On Shabbos we say only one. Each one of the Shabbos Amidos has a unique middle brachah. There are many commentaries explaining the significance of these brachos.

In the middle bracha of the Amidah for Shabbos Mincha we declare that God gave us rest and proceed to describe it, “... מְנוּחַת אַהֲבָה וּנְדָבָה מְנוּחַת אֱמֶת וֶאֱמוּנָה מְנוּחַת שָׁלוֹם וְשַׁלְוָה ... מְנוּחָה שְׁלֵמָה שָׁאַתָּה רוֹצֶה בָּהּ .../… a rest of love and magnanimity, a rest of truth and faith, a rest of peace and serenity … a perfect rest that You want …” Since the wording of our brachos was established by Chazal, it must be more than just nice poetry. There is undoubtedly deep significance in the descriptions of rest we find in this brachah and in the particular order in which they appear.

In order to understand what the significance is, we first need to establish what Chazal mean by מְנוּחָה/rest. The Sfas Emes explains elsewhere that on the very first Shabbos, which was the culmination of the Creation, it became apparent that every part of the Creation was fulfilling God’s will in its unique role within the Creation. The Creation as a whole was a complete system working in harmony to fulfill God’s will. This state that the universe achieved on the first Shabbos is what Chazal mean by the term מְנוּחָה/rest. A system can be said to be at rest when all its parts are working smoothly and efficiently. There is no resistance in the system. A system is not at rest when its components are doing things that are at odds with the purpose of the system.

When the entire universe is working together, God’s glory is revealed. For this reason there is a natural spiritual elevation that occurs on Shabbos. Because there is a stronger Godly revelation on Shabbos, we are naturally freed from subjugation to our evil inclination that distracts us during the week. For this reason as well, Shabbos is a remembrance of the Exodus. At the Exodus, as on Shabbos, God’s glory was revealed and our evil inclination was greatly weakened. This is also the reason that Chazal refer to Shabbos as being a part of the World to Come. In the World to Come, there will be such a powerful Godly revelation that the evil inclination will be altogether ineffective.

This type of rest is what Chazal refer to in this bracha of the Amida for Shabbos Mincha as מְנוּחַת אַהֲבָה/A rest of love.” This occurs when we serve God with no personal ulterior motives, out of pure love. By serving God with no ulterior motives we mimic the Creation. Our personal agenda and God’s agenda are in total alignment.

However, what of a person who does not feel this rest. Many people are unfortunately so involved in matters of this world that they are completely insensitive to any feeling of spirituality. Although the opportunity exists on Shabbos to feel the freedom from the evil inclination, many people simply do not. The concept that Shabbos is an experience which is to a small extent a part of the World to Come has no meaning for these people. What advice can we give such a person who wants to experience this spiritual rest on Shabbos?

Here Chazal teach us that this type of person should honor the Shabbos anyway, ceasing from his personal affairs for the sake of fulfilling God’s will as the prophet Yeshayah teaches us, “... וְכִבַּדְתּוֹ מֵעֲשׂוֹת דְּרָכֶיךָ .../... and you honor it by not engaging in your own affairs …” This is called “מְנוּחַת נְדָבָה/a magnanimous rest.” He doesn’t feel it but he does it anyway, magnanimously.

Honoring Shabbos without feeling the spiritual rest, the מְנוּחַת אַהֲבָה/rest of love, requires faith that it nevertheless exists. When he honors Shabbos in this way, he strengthens this faith and merits מְנוּחַת אֱמֶת וֶאֱמוּנָה/a rest of truth and faith, the ability to believe that even though he doesn’t feel it, in reality he also has Shabbos rest.

Because of his faith, the spiritual Shabbos rest will be revealed to him. He thus merits the rest that Chazal called מְנוּחַת שָׁלוֹם/a rest of peace - peace comes at the successful culmination of a struggle – and “מְנוּחָה שְׁלֵמָה שָׁאַתָּה רוֹצֶה בָּהּ/a complete rest that You want.”

1 comment:

Shlomo (msj121) said...

Yeyasher koichechecha.