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A Tale Of Two Goblets

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All stood with bated breath to see what the King would do.

The King declared: “It’s true I wanted both goblets to be placed at my table so all would recognize which table I prefer. But even the presence of one goblet will proclaim to all that this is the King’s table. Let the first servant return to the banquet hall and place the remaining goblet on my table. I wanted both goblets but even one goblet proclaims to all that I am the King!”

With this act of mercy the King looked away from the damage cause by the clever servant, and even insisted that he who had been negligent with the first goblet, be the very one to place remaining goblet on the King’s table!

This parable is used by the Abudraham, a classic commentary on the siddur, to explain why the passuk with which we proclaim Hashem to be our King begins with the word “Shema”. Originally we, the beloved nation of Hashem, declared our acceptance of His Kingdom with two beautiful words: “Naaseh V’Nishma.” These are the two “goblets” which Hashem preferred on His Table. The Abudraham explains that it was Hashem’s will that we declare His Kingship over us daily using these same two words; one from the root of the word “naaseh” (we will do) and the other from the root of the Hebrew word “nishma” (we will understand). Hashem had wanted these two words to precede our daily declaration of His Sovereignity: “Hashem Elokaynu Hashem Echad.” Thus a reminder of Naaseh V’Nishma would introduce our declaration that Hashem is our personal King and that He is One. Alas, the first goblet was broken. When Bnei Yisrael sinned with the golden calf they declared: “Kum Asei Lanu Elokim come let us make…(Ki Sisa 31:2). They misused naaseh by saying “Asei.” They broke the first royal goblet! Hashem in His great mercy forgave us, but dictated that the personal daily declaration of his Kingship “Hashem Elokaynu Hashem Echad” be proceeded by the root of the word Nishma. Why? Because we have never broken that precious goblet! That is why, explains the Abudraham, Shema, the goblet that was never broken by the taint of sin, is the first word used to declare that Hashem is our King and that He is One.

May it be His Will that we be totally forgiven for the sin of the golden calf and have the opportunity to once again demonstrate to Him that we will do (naaseh) and that we will keep (nishma) all that we know to be His Will. May we be zoche to the coming of Moshiach and a world where we keep all His six hundred and thirteen mitzvos. May we merit presenting our King both goblets.

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