Friday, August 19, 2011

Eikev 5632 First Ma'amar

The first Midrash[1] on this week's parsha cites a halacha that on Shabbos we are prohibited from erecting a candelabrum made of parts.  The Sfas Emes understands this halacha as a metaphor teaching us a fundamental truth our world and the reason we are here.

The physical world and everything in it is connected to holiness.  This holiness is the spiritual root from which stems the existence of the entire physical world.  This is, of course, not at all apparent.  We do not see the spirituality that is the source of our physical surroundings.  We are here in order to reveal this truth, to connect everything physical, as it were, to its spiritual root.

The candelabrum represents the physical world.  During the week, our job is to connect the separate pieces of the candelabrum so that the spiritual that inheres in it can shine as Shlomo HaMelech wrote, "נר ה' נשמת אדם/Man's soul is the God's candle." (Mishlei 20:27)  The word נר/candle really means the vessel that holds the oil and wick.  When we connect the pieces of the candelabrum, it can be used to produce light.

During the week we need to work to reveal the spiritual that is the root of the physical.  In the words of the metaphor, we need to connect the pieces of the physical candelabrum.  However, on Shabbos, there is no need to do this.  On Shabbos, God reveals the spiritual without our help.  All we need to do to experience the spiritual is to desire to receive its enlightenment.

We learn this from Chazal[2] who taught that whoever delights in the Shabbos is given his heart's desires.  The Chiddushei HaRim explains that a person should make sure that his heart's desires are good and for the sake of Heaven.  The Sfas Emes says that it could very well be that Chazal's intent was to teach us that we are given the proper desires.  To want the right things is also considered being given the heart's desires.  And the proper desire is to want to experience God's enlightenment. 

[1] Devarim R. 3:1
[2] Shabbos 118b


Anonymous said...

sounds like one must delight in Shabbos in order to be given the desire to delight in Shabbos,
unless delight begets desire for
the spiritual begets the
experience of the spiritual
(that is, unless one takes oneg
Shabbos to be other than the
experience of the spiritual)?
that oneg Shabbos arouses receptivity to enlightenment, but
is not itself an expression of
enlightenment-- is that what you/he/they mean?

Moshe David Tokayer said...

It seems that it's a two step process. We work during the week to reveal the spiritual thus sensitizing ourselves to experiencing the spiritual on Shabbos. Then on Shabbos, we receive even stronger desire to receive more of the spiritual which in turn affects us for the following weekdays.

The Sfas Emes discusses this two step process in many ma'amarim. See here,, for some of them.