Monday, February 05, 2007

Yisro 5632 First Ma'amar

“... וינח ביום השביעי על כן ברך ה' את יום השבת .../… He rested on the seventh day, therefore God blessed the Shabbos day ...” One would think that the opposite is the case. Because the seventh day is special, therefore He rested on it. Why does the pasuk say that God blessed the day because he rested on it? To understand this pasuk we need to understand what it means when we say that God rested and what it means when we say that He blessed the seventh day.

Chazal tell us that the Shabbos includes the entire Torah and that keeping the Shabbos is akin to keeping the entire Torah. One who denies Shabbos is a denier of the entire Torah. What is the relationship between Shabbos and the entire Torah?

At the end of the paragraph describing the sixth day of creation we find, “ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום הששי/There was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Why does the pasuk say, “יום הששי/the sixth day” instead of “יום ששי/a sixth day” as it says on every other day of creation? Reish Lakish explains that the extra letter ה/the, having a numeric value of five, alludes to the Torah which contains five books. Reish Lakish is teaching us that God created the world on condition that Israel accept the Torah. The Creation continues to exist because we accepted the Torah and the ten commandments. The Chidushei HaRim explains that the ten commandments were a rectification for the ten commands with which God created the world. How so? The revelation on Mount Sinai made it clear that the world exists only because God wills it through the power of the Torah. The revelation rectified the ten commands that created the natural word by showing that God runs it. The Torah is the conduit through which God gives life and existence to the Creation. This is the meaning of Chazal who say that the world was created for the sake of the Torah.

Once the Torah was revealed in this world it became available to us to use as a tool for coming close to God even as we live within the physical world. We see this from the following Midrash. The Midrash states that when the nation of Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and witnessed the revelation of God, our souls left us. We did not have the strength to cope with the intense experience. The Torah itself asked God for mercy. Immediately our souls returned. This is the meaning of the pasuk, “תורת ה' תמימה משיבת נפש/God’s Torah is complete; it restores the Nefesh-soul.” The Zohar explains that the soul comprises three parts, Nefesh, Ruach and Neshamah in ascending spiritual order. The lowest part of the soul, the Nefesh, is the part that resides within the body. It is the part most closely associated with the physical world. The Midrash is teaching us that the Torah is the tool that enables man to experience God in this world. This is the deeper meaning of “תורת ה' ... משיבת נפש/God’s Torah … restores the Nefesh-soul.”

The power to connect us and the rest of the Creation to God is inherent in Shabbos as well. The pasuk states, “... וביום השביעי שבת וינפש/… and on the seventh day He ceased work and rested.” The words “וינפש/rested” and נפש/soul have the same Hebrew root. The pasuk is telling us that on the seventh day, all souls become connected to God. On Shabbos we are able to more easily have a spiritual experience. Not only souls, but the entire Creation comes closer to God on Shabbos, meaning that on Shabbos, God is more revealed. Being connected, they re-energize from the Godly life-giving force. Shabbos is the channel through which the Godly life force comes into the Creation. This is why the Zohar says that Shabbos is the vehicle through which the Godly life force is drawn down to the other days of the week. They – the days of the week – (and everything else in the Creation) are connected to Godliness through Shabbos.

While Torah is the tool through which God gives life and existence to the creation, it is through Shabbos that the life giving power of the Torah is drawn into the world. This is why keeping Shabbos is like keeping the entire Torah.

The concept that the Godly life force is drawn down to the Creation and re-energizes it is the essence of ברכה/blessing. The inner meaning of all blessing is closeness to God. We can now understand why the pasuk says that God blessed the seventh day because He rested on it. Earlier we said that God’s resting suggests that all souls come closer to God. God rested on the seventh day so that all souls could come close to Him and experience blessing. He rested on the seventh day. As a result all of Creation came closer to Him and experienced blessing.

When we turn to God on Shabbos, opening ourselves up to Him, subjugating our own will to His and connecting to Him, we create channels along which the Godly life force is drawn down to us and the Creation. Shabbos, thus, becomes the source of ברכה/blessing for us and the entire Creation.

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