Friday, August 06, 2010

Re'ei 563 Seventh Ma'amar

The Chiddushei HaRim said that the third meal of Shabbos is similar to Shemini Atzeres.  Chazal[1] teach us that whereas the seven days of Succos is for the nations of the world as well as for us, Shemini Atzeres is God’s declaration that we are His special people and He wants to keep us an extra day because separation is difficult.  The third meal of Shabbos is also an aspect of difficult separation.  Therefore, the Chiddushei HaRim teaches that it is important to yearn not to forget that special feeling of Shabbos light that we experience during the third meal at the culmination of the Shabbos even during the days of the week.

The Sfas Emes expands this concept of wanting to retain the Shabbos experience during the week and yearning during the week for the Shabbos experience.

Chazal[2] teach us that God gives us an extra soul when Shabbos commences and takes it from us when Shabbos ends.  This is inferred from the word וַיִּנָּפַשׁ/He rested,” in “... וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שָׁבַת וַיִּנָּפַשׁ/… and on the seventh day He stopped working and rested.” (Shmos 31:17)  The root of the word for rest is also soul.  The word וַיִּנָּפַשׁ alludes to “וֵוי אָבְדָה נֶפֶשׁ/Woe for the loss of the soul.”  This is difficult to understand because the soul is lost only at the end of Shabbos while God (and we) rested from the beginning of Shabbos.  How can this word include a hint to what occurs when Shabbos ends?

The Ba’al Shem Tov answers that Chazal are not commanding us to cry for the loss of the extra soul after Shabbos ends.  Rather, Chazal are teaching us how we should relate to Shabbos itself.  Knowing that we will lose the extra soul at the end of Shabbos, we should do everything we can during Shabbos to make the most of it – as long as we have the extra soul.  This is in line with the Chiddushei HaRim’s idea of yearning to not forget the Shabbos experience of the third meal.

The Sfas Emes gives a different answer to this question.  As the Sfas Emes writes in many places, on Shabbos there is a greater Godly revelation than during the week.  One of our primary tasks in this world is to see through the screen of the physical in which we live in order to cling to the source of our souls, the source of life, to God.  On Shabbos this is much easier to do than during the week because God reveals Himself to us more.  However, even though it is not easy to see past the physical during the week, trying to do so by pining for that higher spiritual state of Shabbos is actually an aspect of experiencing Shabbos.  This is because Shabbos can be define as a state of heightened spiritual awareness.  When Chazal teach us that “וַיִּנָּפַשׁ/and He rested” alludes to pining for the extra soul of Shabbos – Woe for the loss of the soul – they mean exactly this.  To the extent that during the week we yearn for that Godly experience, we experience an aspect of Shabbos during the week as well and this is what we are required to do.

Yearning for Shabbos during the week also affects how we experience Shabbos itself and since the holiest time of Shabbos is towards the end of the day, the effect of yearning during the week is felt most powerfully when we eat the third meal.

The Zohar[3] gives an interesting parallel to craving the experience of Shabbos during the week.  Chazal teach us that God wears tefillin, in a matter of speaking.  God’s wearing tefillin is a metaphor for His revelation.  The Zohar says that Shabbos and the holidays are the manifestation of God’s tefillin.  The Zohar continues and explains that God gave us the mitzvah of tefillin so that we may be protected during the week when we do not have the protection of God’s tefillin – revelation.  That protection is reserved, of course, for Shabbos and Yom Tov.  The tefillin are God’s “seal” as in, “שִׂימֵנִי כַחוֹתָם עַל־לִבֶּךָ כַּחוֹתָם עַל־זְרוֹעֶךָ .../Place me like a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm …” (Shir HaShirim 8:6)  He gave us His seal to wear during the week.[4]

Not only is the tefillin a protection, as the Zohar says, according to the Sfas Emes it reminds us of the special revelation of God’s tefillin represented by Shabbos.  Here we see clearly that remembering Shabbos during the week is built into the mitzvah of tefillin.

[1] Rashi on Vayikra 23:36 (see Ramban ad loc), see also Succa 55b
[2] Beitza 16a – ma’amar of Reish Lakish
[3] Zohar Chadash Shir HaShirim 79b in Masok MeDvash edition
[4] The Zohar explains that this is also the reason why we are not permitted to wear tefillin on Shabbos and Yom Tov.  On Shabbos and Yom Tov we experience the real tefillin, the real seal of God.  Wearing the reminder would be the height of insolence.  Interestingly, the Zohar says that while Shabbos and Tom Tov are related to the tefillin shel rosh, Chol HaMoed is related to the tefillin shel yad.  The Zohar thus concludes that wearing tefillin during Chol HaMoed is prohibited for the same reason it is prohibited on Shabbos and Yom Tov.


Tzvi Kantor said...

For a totally boiled down version of a similar concept for beginners, you can find it at

Moshe David Tokayer said...

Very nice. Yasher Ko'ach!

sivan@israel said...

as you know, even the jew who heardly can speak hebrew must pray in hebrew. why? becouse our soul knows the language and becouse it is very important to pray all together. i think same analogy is here. childs soul is able to accept and take a part in this.