web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Shabbat, Shabbat Shabbaton

You arrive home after Kol Nidrei. Even though you had a full meal before you left, you are already slightly hungry and quite thirsty. You open the door to your house to be greeted by a strange sight. The table in the dining room is bedecked with a white tablecloth and adorned with silver Shabbat utensils. The candles flicker in their holders and their shadows dance on the walls. But the familiar aroma of Shabbat food is missing. Even on Kol Nidrei/Friday night, there is nothing to eat.

If they would invent a Mah Nishtanah for Shabbat/Yom Kippur, it would go like this: “Why is this Friday night different from all others? On all other Friday nights we enjoy a festive Shabbat meal. Tonight? No dinner!”

The question is a good one. According to many opinions, it is a Torah obligation to celebrate Shabbat with three festive meals and it is a Torah violation to fast on Shabbat. Why then, do we not postpone Yom Kippur to Sunday like we do with all other fasts?

The most straightforward answer to this question is that the Torah explicitly commands us to fast on the tenth day of Tishrei no matter when it occurs, even on Shabbat. This is similar to brit milah, which must be carried out, notwithstanding the melachah involved, on the eighth day after birth, even if this occurs on Shabbat. As if to emphasize this point, the Torah uses the phrase “be’etzem hayom hazeh” – “on this very day” – both in connection with fasting on Yom Kippur and with brit milah.

In addition to Yom Kippur, there is at least one other instance when a person may fast on Shabbat – the case of a ta’anit chalom, in which a person wishes to fast to prevent an ominous dream from becoming reality.

Interestingly, these two cases are linked. Dreams get mixed reviews in the Talmud. They contain elements of both nonsense and prophecy. Joseph dreams that his father, mother and brothers will one day honor him as king. The nonsense part was that Joseph’s mother was already dead at the time of the dream. The prophetic part was that his father and brothers did subsequently bow down to him. When the people of Nineveh heard the prophecy that their city would be destroyed, they fasted and repented. In permitting a person who has experienced a bad dream on Shabbat to fast on Shabbat, the halacha uses the same terminology we use on Yom Kippur, “likroa et gezar hadin.”

The deeper reason for requiring us to fast on Shabbat/Yom Kippur may lie in the essential difference between Shabbat and Yom Kippur. Shabbat is God’s day of rest. Yom Kippur is our day of rest. On Shabbat we remain in this world and enjoy the earthly pleasures God created. That is how we acknowledge Him as Creator. Shabbat in this sense is a day of physical rest.

On Yom Kippur, we leave the physical world. We take a day off from the inherent tension caused by the fusion of body and soul. We become pure souls. Yom Kippur is the dress rehearsal of our own yahrzeit. We wear the shrouds in which we will ultimately face Him, and we discard the shoes we will no longer need. By neither eating nor drinking, we celebrate the day like the angels we become. If Shabbat is God’s day off and Yom Kippur is ours, on Shabbat/Yom Kippur God and His people celebrate a day off together.

That Shabbat is a day of rest belonging to the realm of the physical world and Yom Kippur a day of rest belonging to the realm of the meta-physical world seems also to be borne out by the punishment one incurs for performing a malachah on these days. Whereas the ultimate punishment for a melachah performed on Shabbat is death at the hands of a human court, the ultimate punishment for a melachah performed on Yom Kippur is karet, death at the hand of God, or the excision of one’s soul.

All told, nobody is quite sure which day is holier, Shabbat or Yom Kippur. On the one hand it seems Yom Kippur is holier because the Torah refers to it as “Shabbat Shabbaton,” the Sabbath of all Sabbaths. On the other hand, perhaps Shabbat is holier because God sanctifies it, whereas bet din, the Jewish court of law, sanctifies Yom Kippur.

This uncertainty has practical ramifications. Which of the following two prayers does one recite first on Shabbat/Yom Kippur – the Shehecheyanu blessing that celebrates Yom Kippur because Yom Kippur is the holier event, or the Shabbat Psalm of Mizmor Shir Leyom HaShabbat? No one is quite sure. Ashkenazi Jews recite Shehecheyanu first but Sephardi Jews recite the psalm for Shabbat first.

What everybody is sure about, however, is that the confluence of Shabbat and Yom Kippur creates the holiest day. First, Shabbat enhances teshuvah on Yom Kippur because the very word Shabbat includes the principal letters of teshuvah, taf, shin and bet. Second, the most powerful way to serve God is with joy, and Shabbat is a day of joy. Third, the synthesis of Shabbat and Yom Kippur reunites the two sets of the tablets of law, the first that was given on Shabbat and then smashed and the second that was given on Yom Kippur.

The blessing that is made over the Shabbat/Yom Kippur lights, which mentions both Shabbat and Yom Kippur is so powerful that it is no wonder we are lit up on this unique day.

And if one needed any more convincing of the rarified quality of Shabbat/Yom Kippur, we find it in the Havdalah ceremony. Whereas on a regular Yom Kippur we use no besamim for Havdalah, on Shabbat/Yom Kippur we do. That is because we take leave of the special Shabbat guest, the neshamah yeterah.

About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Shabbat, Shabbat Shabbaton

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS seized control of Quneitra, at least temporarily, towards the end of August 2014.
Israel Watching Northern Border with Syria, Lebanon
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-092614

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Rabbi Sacks

Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2×7) was his favored organizing principle.

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

This young, innocent child gave me a powerful, warm surge of energy and strength.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

A Role Reversal
‘Return, O Wayward Sons…’
(Chagigah 15a)

When the Kleins returned, however, they were dismayed to see that the renters did a poor job cleaning up after themselves.

In Parshas Re’eh the Torah tells us about the bechira to adhere to the commandments of Hashem and refrain from sin. In Parshas Nitzavim, the Torah tells us that we have the choice to repent after we have sinned.

As Moshe is about to die, why does God tell him about how the Israelites will ruin everything?

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?

On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.

Based on the opinion of the Ramban, the Territorial School believes that leaving any territory of the Land of Israel in the possession of non-Jews is a violation of a biblical mandate.

To properly fulfill the mitzvah of listening to the megillah, each word must be heard.

If the only person available to perform the milah on the eighth day is a person who is not an observant Jew, the milah should be postponed until a devout mohel is available.

The kohen gadol may not enter the Temple unless his hair is cut every seven days.

A commonly employed and permissible device regarding the prohibition of wearing fresh clothes during the Nine Days is to don them for a moment or two before the Nine Days.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/shabbat-shabbat-shabbaton/2013/12/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: