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Parshas Pinchas: ‘Shabbos For Shabbos’

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Why is everything connected with Shabbos doubled?

When the navi Yeshaya speaks of comforting the beleaguered and aggrieved Jewish nation following their exile he exclaims [6], “Comfort, comfort My people, says G-d!” The Medrash comments [7], “They were stricken doubly, and they were comforted doubly.” Why was the Jewish nation punished doubly, and subsequently required to be comforted doubly?

Rav Yitzchak Kirzner zt’l explained that mortal man is composed of two diverse components – chomer (physical, tangible corporeal body) and tzurah (intangible life-force, spiritual, personality).

The ultimate goal of man is to raise himself to such a level wherein his chomer is subservient to his tzurah, in that his entire being (including his physical self) is subject completely to the Will of G-d. Such a person’s behavior is dictated by his logic, and he does not allow himself to be blindly drawn after his emotions and desires.

At the time of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, G-d wrought retribution against Klal Yisroel, not only because the nation abused its essence on a physical level and defiled its chomer, but also because as a result of their iniquities their tzurah became sullied and spiritually debased. Not only did they use their physical bodies to sin but they contemplated ways to sin, using their cognitive abilities to think of ways. Thus, the nation sinned on a dual level, and their double punishment reflected that duality. The ultimate consolation must therefore be doubled, in order to console us on a physical and spiritual level – to console both body and spirit.

With this idea in mind perhaps we can understand why every aspect of Shabbos is doubled. The greatness of Shabbos is that the holiness of Shabbos not only envelopes our tzurah – our spirit and souls – it also affords us the opportunity to elevate and sanctify our chomer – the physicality within ourselves and the world. On Shabbos we laud G-d for the gift of being able to “Eat rich foods, drink sweet drinks, for G-d will give to all who cling to Him, clothes to wear and bread of allotment, meat and fish and all delicacies.”

The Gemara [8] relates that on Shabbos we are granted a supplementary soul. Rashi offers a most intriguing explanation of the effect of the supplementary soul. He explains that the special soul grants us “a broadened heart for rest and joy, and to be open wide to be able to eat and drink without his soul becoming repulsed by it.” Normally when one partakes of a particularly filling and fatty meal he feels somewhat “animalistic” [9]. But on Shabbos one can indulge more than usual and not worry about that animalistic feeling, because his added soul compensates by injecting him with an added dose of spirituality.

With this idea in mind we can also understand why in our Shabbos prayers there is much mention of the ultimate redemption and our eventual return to rebuilt Jerusalem and the rebuilt Bais HaMikdash. Our descent into exile was inextricably bound to the defilement of our chomer and tzurah, both our bodies and our souls. The double consolation, which must include both body and spirit is reflected and symbolized by Shabbos, the day of physical AND spiritual bliss.

Shabbos is a window into the euphoric Messianic world when there will be complete devotion to G-d, on all levels. When we observe Shabbos we raise ourselves beyond the trivialities and sufferings of exile and focus on a world devoid of physical pain and spiritual sin. It is for that reason that the laws of the Three Weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash are suspended on Shabbos. We sing songs joyously during those Shabbasos, and even if Tisha B’av itself coincides on Shabbos we eat meat and drink wine.

The exile represents the tragedy of the wandering collective Jewish body and soul, and on Shabbos wherever a Jew is he is at home in the palace of the King.

The Karliner prayed that he not only merit experiencing the physical delights of Shabbos, but also the spiritual bliss of Shabbos.  At times one can observe all the laws of Shabbos properly, yet not feel the idyllic sense of elevation that Shabbos provides. One must pray that he merit that greatness, as we state in the Mussaf prayers of Shabbos, “Those who taste it merit life, and those who love its precepts have chosen greatness.”


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About the Author: Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead and the Social Worker at Yeshiva Bais Hachinuch in Monsey. He can be reached at stamtorah@gmail.com. Or visit him online at www.stamtorah.info.


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