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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Erev Shabbat’

The Purpose Of The Melachah

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

The link between the laws of Shabbat and the Mishkan not only defines the 39 Melachot but also determines the conditions for liability. One of these conditions is intent. The other is purpose.

The melachah must be performed for a similar purpose as the act performed in the Mishkan. Accordingly, one might, intentionally, perform the same act performed in the Mishkan and yet be exempt from biblical liability if it did not have a similar purpose.

For example, digging (a derivative of plowing), was performed in the Mishkan for the use of the hole itself, in which tent pegs were sunk. Therefore, one who digs for earth and has no use for the hole has not performed a melachah in the Torah sense of the term, a melachah de’oreita.

Similarly, extinguishing a fire, a primary or av melachah, was performed in the Mishkan to produce glowing embers needed to smelt metal. Therefore, one who turns off the light in order to sleep, or to save electricity, has not performed a melachah de’oreita. Such an act is known as a melachah she’eina tzericha l’gufa. Although biblically exempt from liability once performed, a melachah she’eina tzericha l’gufa is rabbinically prohibited, a melachah derabbanan and should not be performed in the first place.

What is the difference between a melachah de’oreita and melachah derabbanan if both are prohibited? The answer is that generally there is more room for leniency in melachot derabbanan. For example, melachot derabbanan may, mostly, be performed during twilight, bein hashmashot, on Erev Shabbat; they may, with certain restrictions, be performed by a Jew on Shabbat to alleviate substantial pain; they may, in certain situations, be performed by a Jew on Shabbat in order to avert a substantial financial loss; they may, in certain circumstances, be performed for a Jew on Shabbat by a non-Jew; and they are not themselves subject to protective legislation.

Because the melachah she’eina tzericha l’gufa is closest to a melachah de’oreita, in that it only lacks the element of common purpose and because there is a dispute with regard to its definition, the rabbis are less lenient with it than with other melachot derabbanan. Accordingly, it enjoys some but not all of the flexibility described. For example, a melachah she’eina tzericha l’gufa may not be performed bein hashmashot. Such a melachah may, however, for the most part be performed by a Jew on Shabbat for the sick, even the not dangerously sick; and in certain situations may be performed for a Jew on Shabbat by a non- Jew.

Based on these principles, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Braun, in his work Sha’arim Metzuyanim B’Halacha, writes that sparks ignited by plugging in or out of electricity is akin to a melachah she’eina tzericha l’gufa, in that it is a psik reishe delo neecha lei, which means an inevitable melachah arising from a permitted act that is of no use to its performer.

Accordingly, to avoid substantial financial loss one may ask a non-Jew to reconnect a well-stocked freezer that became disconnected from its electricity on Shabbat. Similarly, one may ask a non-Jew to turn off an appliance which, if left running all through Shabbat, would overheat and burn out.

A Tefillah From The Depths

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I live in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Just up the road from my house is Kever Shmuel Hanavi (the Prophet Samuel’s tomb). This landmark is situated in a very strategic spot. It is 885 meters above sea level, affording a panoramic vista of Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. For hundreds of years, it was in Jewish hands.

After the Arabs took control of the site, they built a mosque where a church had stood earlier. From their vantage point, the Arabs were able to attack us at will. During the Six-Day War, we liberated the area. Kever Shmuel Hanavi was once more in our hands.

The first time I visited this site the atmosphere felt strange, almost foreign. We parked our car next to a few Arab homes, part of a small adjacent Arab village. We could see their prayer mats hanging on the railings. I saw Arabs entering their mosque, and did not know if I would be able to concentrate on my prayers inside. It did not feel like a holy place for Jews.

Then I entered through the side entrance. The walls were lined with siddurim, Tehillim and sefarim. There was a table laden with drinks and cookies for those who came to pray. I descended a set of stairs and found myself in a small synagogue. In the center was the velvet-covered kever. Women of all ages were praying intently. The few children there sensed the holiness of the place, and reverently placed their hands on the velvet cloth.

The walls of the women’s section were plastered with various prayers for different occasions. Women passed around the names of people who needed prayers said for them. The sanctity of the place was palpable, and I soon realized that this was a perfect setting to pour my heart out to Hashem.

About a year ago, I visited the site again. A woman was passing out a sheet with a special prayer. It was a moving prayer of thanksgiving to Hashem.

My daughters and I now say this tefillah every Erev Shabbat. We light our Shabbat candles and then recite this special prayer with all of our hearts. We thank Hashem for all the good in our lives. We thank Him for the things we don’t even realize we should be thanking Him for. We thank Him for being able to thank Him.

The second part of the tefillah requires more strength and faith. We thank Hashem for the difficult times in our lives. We proclaim that everything that happens in our lives, even those things that are so hard for us to bear, is ultimately for the good.

It is easy to give thanks for the good in our lives. It is not so difficult to thank Hashem for having passed through the rough patches in our lives, once we have safely navigated them. It is much more difficult to thank Him while in the midst of a crisis.

I have given copies of this tefillah to my family and friends. They, in turn, have copied it and sent it to others.

One person in particular thought it was a beautiful prayer and recited it once in a while. Then she was struck with illness. She is now undergoing difficult medical treatments and she prays the outcome will be successful. She says that this tefillah provides her with the strength to navigate her ordeal. She is able to view her illness in a different perspective, as she thanks Hashem daily for all she has been given.

May Hashem grant her and all of Israel’s sick good health and happiness.

Hebron Shabbat

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Erev Shabbat, Parashat Shemot was a beautiful, clear day. The sun had warmed up the brisk winter air, and off came the jackets as everyone was enjoying the milder weather. My husband and I were excited at the prospect of spending Shabbat in Hebron. The last time we were in Hebron was in June of 2007 when we had the nachas of being present at the completion of Sefer B’reshit by our grandson’s class. This Shabbat was the fulfillment of our desire to spend Shabbat in the heart of Hebron.

We were a small, congenial group that gathered in a guesthouse in the Shalhevet neighborhood of Hebron. The group was made up of friends and family. Not everyone was acquainted with one another but still, friendships were quickly formed. There were, B”H, many children there and they all seemed to become instant buddies. Our anticipation of an extraordinary Shabbat was being realized thanks to the superb arrangements by our daughter-in-law.

We lit candles and then walked to the Ma’arat HaMachpela. Along the way, we greeted all the chayalim on duty with a loud and cheerful Shabbat Shalom!

After finding seats, we began davening Kabbalat Shabbat. The minyan we attended was held in the large open area in the center hall covered by a canvas roof. It was quite chilly, but as the prayers progressed, the singing and (men’s) dancing warmed us all, in body and soul. Hungry though we were, we could have sat there for hours. The spirit in bringing in the Shabbat, our love for Hashem, and the joy of being together in such a holy place permeated the air.

Suddenly, I became aware of a young girl crying. She was sitting a few seats away from me, next to my granddaughter. I’ve seen this before; participants become overwhelmed by the beauty and spirituality of their tefillot and react with silent tears. But she didn’t stop, and in fact, her sobbing quickly became audible. It sounded as if her heart was breaking. She was praying with such intensity and sorrow that the depth of her emotions touched my soul and tears flowed down my face without my knowing why.

After the final tefillot, my granddaughter, who must have been her age, spoke to her and other friends came over to hug her. On the way back to the guesthouse I asked my granddaughter if she knew what had occurred. “Her brother was murdered today,” said my granddaughter, her voice filled with despair. I then learned of the terrorist attack that took place that morning.

Since it was such a beautiful day, two friends, Ahikam Amihai and Yehuda Rubin, both age 20, went on a nature hike with their friend, Na’ama Ohayun. They were ambushed by terrorists and both were killed in an ensuing gun battle with these terrorists. The boys managed to kill two of the terrorists during the surprise attack, and though mortally wounded, were able to save Na’ama’s life. She was able to escape and call for help, which tragically didn’t arrive in time.

I realized then that the young girl we saw in Ma’arat HaMachpela praying, worshiping Hashem while bitterly crying for her murdered brother, exemplified the epitome of emunah. Through her tears and sobs she understood the words of her tefillot and believed in them and in the Dayan Ha’emet.

Her emunah in Hashem was not destroyed and neither was ours.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/hebron-shabbat/2008/01/17/

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