Friday, January 02, 2009

VaYigash 5631 Fourth Ma'amar

God commands us to remember the Shabbos, “זָכוֹר אֶת־יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשוֹ/Remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it.” (Shmos 20:8) Remembering requires no action. However, although there are a few mitzvos, such as believing in God, that require no action, Shabbos is not one of them. What action, then, is required of us to fulfill the mitzvah of remembering the Shabbos? Chazal explain that God is asking us to commemorate Shabbos through action. If we find a nice portion of food during the week and save it for Shabbos, we have fulfilled the mitzvah of remembering the Shabbos.

The Sfas Emes teaches that Shabbos represents the holiness in the physical world. Conventionally, we think of Shabbos as the holy part of the week. On a deeper level, everything in the world has a holy spiritual component. Just as the holy component of the week is called Shabbos, the holy part of every physical thing is an aspect of Shabbos. Metaphorically, a “nice portion” also pertains to this spiritual component within every physical thing. Accordingly, remembering the Shabbos by setting aside a nice portion means recognizing the aspect of Shabbos – the holiness – that exists within, and is the spiritual root of, everything in the physical world.

Yosef, too, represents the holiness within the physical world. The Zohar calls Yosef שׁוֹמֵר הַבְּרִית/keeper of the covenant. The plain meaning relates to his overcoming the temptations presented to him by the wife of Potiphar. The covenant that he kept was the covenant of the circumcision. The Zohar, though, is referring to something deeper. The holiness inherent in this world is hidden by gross physicality. The removal of the foreskin symbolizes unveiling the holiness that lies within the physical world. Yosef, as the keeper of the covenant, represents the holiness that is within the physical world.

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