web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » Judaism » Torah »

Shabbos – a Day with Hashem: Feast or Folly?

Someone sent me this e-mail: “The ABC’s of Purim: They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat.”

Shabbat Table

Share Button

Someone sent me this e-mail: “The ABC’s of Purim: They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat.” When we take a look at the lavish seudah we make each year on Purim, which competes with the grand party of Achashverosh, it would seem that there is some truth to this quip. And when we think about the extremely misunderstood mitzvah of getting drunk on Purim we get even more confused. Why does feasting play such an important role on such a holy day? And then it is not only on Purim. We all remember the loads of food our Bubby would prepare every Shabbos and Yom Tov, and we all try to follow in her footsteps. What is the meaning behind all the feasting in Judaism, and how can we do it properly?

Let us start with Purim. One of the reasons stated (Megillah 12a) for the decree of annihilation was that the Jews enjoyed the seudah of Achashverosh. We must realize that this decree was one of the worst ever to be placed upon our nation. First, Achashverosh ruled the entire civilized world, and therefore all Jews were in danger. Second, the midrash tells us that in Heaven the decree was sealed, albeit in clay, but nonetheless sealed. This meant that we were actually given over to Haman, and if not for our prayers and repentance, there would have been no remembrance of us. What was so bad about this sin that it warranted such a harsh verdict?

Persian Pursuit of Pleasure

The Gemara tells us (Megillah 11a) that the Persian Empire was compared to a bear. The Persians ate and drank like bears and were padded with fat like bears. The commentators explain that this was the foundation of the Persian culture – seize and consume whatever pleasures there are in this world! We can only imagine how difficult it was for the Jews of the Persian Empire to avoid being influenced by this crazy yearning. Mordechai, well aware of this danger, warned the Jews to steer clear of the gluttonous royal banquet in Shushan. Unfortunately, not only did they attend, they actually enjoyed themselves. Thus it was decreed in Heaven that the Jewish Nation would be wiped out. Why?

The Sma’ag writes in his preface that the human being is an extremely peculiar “shidduch.” The body is animalistic in nature while the soul is angelic. Therefore, the body desires animalistic pleasures – eating, drinking, sleeping, and the like – while the soul, on the other hand, is disgusted by such activities. The neshama wants to perform only spiritual activities, trying to get closer to Hashem. So why did Hashem create this “odd couple?” The Sma’ag explains that our job in this world is to elevate materialism to a higher and holier plateau. Thus, both components are needed: the body, to perform the materialistic acts; the soul, to elevate those acts. Not only will the world thus attain its purpose, but the human body itself will also become a more spiritual entity. Yes, we should enjoy this world, as this will elevate it, but only according to the directives of the Torah. Otherwise, every pleasure from which we partake will pull us down, rather than granting us perfection.

Now we can understand the harshness of the decree. By participating in and enjoying the party, the Jews revealed that their deep desire was to immerse themselves in the Persian lifestyle – to please their animalistic side. In other words, they were not interested anymore in fulfilling the task for which they were placed in this world. The punishment, therefore, was not a simple slap on the wrist, but rather the end of our nation and, for that matter, the whole world.

But Hashem, in His great kindness, revealed the decree to Mordechai, who swung into action and motivated the nation to repent. The Jews fasted for three days straight, something we do not find at any other time; this was not just a fast of repentance. Its purpose was to totally cut themselves off from the mistaken lifestyle they had gotten sucked into, and cleanse themselves from the pleasures they had received from it. Similarly, Esther was thrust into a situation of extreme materialism but did not enjoy even one iota of it. She took only what was compulsory, refusing all extra jewelry and cosmetics. She ate only seeds and nuts, and did not partake of the palace’s gourmet food. In fact, the Vilna Gaon explains that all the pleasures surrounding her made her so sick that she turned green! All these actions brought atonement for their sin.

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus, raised and educated in Los Angeles and subsequently Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim, is the Rosh Kollel of the Zichron Aron Yaakov Kollel in Kiryat Sefer , Israel. He lectures for the public and is the director of the Chasdei Rivka Free Loan Gemach. He can be reached at kollel.zay@gmail.com.


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.

No Responses to “Shabbos – a Day with Hashem: Feast or Folly?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Putin-Obama Meme 1
Egypt Signing Unprecedented $3 Billion MiG-35 Deal with Russia
Latest Judaism Stories
Reiss-041814-King

Amazingly, each and every blade was green and moist as if it was just freshly cut.

PTI-041814

All the commentaries ask why Hashem focuses on the Exodus as opposed to saying, “I am Hashem who created the entire world.”

Leff-041814

Someone who focuses only on the bones of the Torah makes his bones dry and passionless.

The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014). As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House. Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world. On Tuesday, just as we […]

The tendency to rely on human beings rather than G-d has been our curse throughout the centuries.

“Who is wise? One who learns from each person” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

In Judaism, to be without questions is a sign not of faith, but of lack of depth.

“I’ll try to help as we can,” said Mr. Goodman, “but we already made a special appeal this year. Let me see what other funds we have. I’ll be in touch with you in a day or two.”

Rashi is bothered by the expression Hashem used: “the Jews need only travel.”

Reckoning Time
‘Three Festivals, Even Out Of Order’
(Beizah 19b)

Two husbands were there to instruct us in Texas hold ‘em – and we needed them.

Question: Why do we start counting sefirat ha’omer in chutz la’aretz on the second night of Pesach when the omer in the times of the Beit Hamikdash was cut on Chol HaMoed?

M. Goldman
(Via E-Mail)

A few background principles regarding the prohibitions of chametz mixtures on Pesach may provide some shopping guidance.

According to the Rambam, the k’nas applies to any chametz on Pesach with which one could, in theory, transgress the aveirah – even if no transgression actually occurred.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus
Niehaus-040414

When Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, we received not only a physical freedom but also a spiritual one.

Niehaus-030714

Such a misunderstanding would render our words worthless, for we would not be declaring that Hashem is truly the Master of the Universe.

Friday night corresponds to Shabbos Bereishis – therefore we discuss the creation. Shabbos morning corresponds to the Shabbos when we received the Torah, so in Shachris we mention that. And finally, Shabbos afternoon corresponds to the Shabbos of the World to Come, so in Mincha we talk about the Oneness of Hashem, which will be clearly revealed at that time.

First let us explain what shira is. Rav Shimshon Pinkus zt”l writes (She’arim B’Tefila, page 65) that shira is when we relate praises in a detailed manner, as opposed to zimra, where we praise in a more general way.

On the ninth of Teves Ezra HaSofer was niftar. The Gemara (Megilah 15a) tells us that Ezra was actually Malachi – the last prophet. With his passing, the glorious era of nevuah, prophecy, came to an end.

Why is it so important to sing specifically during the seudah? If we understand this minhag and how to fulfill it, we will discover an amazing new aspect of Shabbos.

The special days of Tishrei have come and gone. But hopefully, we managed to elevate our level of spirituality so that we now feel closer to Hashem, even if just a little bit. I think that now is the right time to approach an extremely mystical aspect of Shabbos.

Every Shabbos we look forward to the delightful seudos where we enjoy delicious food and drinks, sing zemiros, say divrei Torah, and spend wonderful time with our families. This coming Shabbos, Yom Kippur, will be quite different. We will spend most of the day in prayer and repentance, begging Hashem to forgive us for our sins, and we may forget that it is also Shabbos. However, from the fact that we ask for forgiveness “on this day of Shabbos,” we see that there is an integral connection between Shabbos and the atonement of Yom Kippur.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/shabbos-a-day-with-hashem-feast-or-folly/2013/02/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: