Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 9   No. 41

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(Shabbos Nachamu)

Zochor and Shomor

In Parshas Yisro, where the Torah describes the first Luchos, it connects Shabbos with the Creation ("because in six days G-d created the Heaven and the earth ... "). Here, where it describes the second Luchos, it connects it with Yetzi'as Mitzrayim ("And you shall remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and G-d took you out from there ... "). Based on this dual connection, the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim explains that Shabbos has two distinct sides to it, and that those sides are based on the two reasons that the Torah presents for Shabbos in the two respective Parshios. To remind us of the glory of the Creation, the Torah commands us 'Zochor' (the Mitzvah of Kidush and Kovod Shabbos). And as a reminder of our freedom from slavery, it commands us 'Shomor' (the Mitzvah of desisting from work).


The Ramban however, disagrees. He maintains that the purpose behind Shabbos is solely to remind us of the Creation, as the Torah writes in Yisro. Stopping work on Shabbos reminds us that that is what G-d did. He created the world and stopped the creation on Shabbos. And the fact that He stopped the Creation, is the surest proof that He is its Creator. And if He is the Creator, then He is its Master, and there is no other.

The problem with this however, lies in the difficulty in visualizing the Creation (which we did not witness). That is why the Torah connects Shabbos here with the miracles of Egypt, something that we did witness. So the Torah orders us to recall those miracles. From there, it is but a short step to arrive at the realization that it is only the Creator of nature who is able to manipulate it in the way that G-d did in Egypt.

In other words, remembering 'Yetzi'as Mitzrayim' is but a means of remembering 'Ma'aseh Bereishis'.

Perhaps, we might add, the Torah initially wrote "Zochor", presenting Shabbos as Zeicher le'Ma'aseh Bereishis, at Har Sinai, when Yisrael were on a high, and confronted by G-d's Majesty. That is when they were able to digest the message directky. And it was only after the sins of the Eigel and the Meraglim, when they had fallen from their high level, and had become de-spiritualised, as it were, that He added "Shomor". That was when G-d presented Shabbos as a Zeicher li'Yetzi'as Mitzrayim - when they were no longer sufficiently sensitive to appreciate G-d as the Creator unaided.

With this explanation, as well as with that of the Ramban, the problem posed by the Or ha'Chayim is automatically resolved.The Or ha'Chayim asks why, seeing that G-d said 'Shomor and Zochor simultaneously', the Torah did not insert Shomor in the first Luchos, and write "Zochor ve'Shomor es Yom ha'Shabbos le'Kadsho"? According to the Rambam, 'Zochor' and 'Shomor' are two separate issues, whereas according to the Ramban, they are two separate stages, as we just explained.


Rabeinu Bachye cites the Gemara in B'rachos (20b) to explain "Shomor" and "Zochor" from a Halachik viewpoint. The Gemara there states that the Torah needs to write "Shomor", in spite of having already written "Zochor", to teach us that women are obligated to observe the Mitzvos of Kidush and Havdalah (contained in 'Zochor') no less than that of 'Shomor'. That is because we would normally have exempted them from any Mitzvas Asei connected with time (to which category 'Zochor' belongs). However, since they are obligated to observe all Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh (to which group 'Shomor' belongs), they are included in 'Zochor' too. And this in turn, is because the Torah compares 'Zochor' to 'Shomor' (as Chazal have said "Shomor" and "Zochor" were said simultaneously), to obligate whoever is included in the one, to observe the other, too.

This explanation does not however, deal with the dual message of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim and the Creation, as the previous explanations do.


The Mechilta extrapolates from "Shomor" and Zochor" the obligation to observe Shabbos before the day of Shabbos actually enters, and after the day terminates. In other words, they teach us the Mitzvah of 'Tosfos Shabbos' (adding time at both ends of Shabbos, one at either end of Shabbos), though according to some opinions, this is merely 'an Asmachta' (a Rabbinical injunction which is hinted in the Torah).

This is strangely puzzling, since one normally remembers something that has passed and awaits something that has yet to occur. In that case, the Mechilta should rather have inverted the D'rashos ('Zochreihu le'acharov' and 'shomrehu lefonov'). Indeed, the Rashbam in Parshas Yisro cites numerous examples of 'Zochor' in the Torah, which always come to recall events of the past before concluding that here too, "Zochor es Yom ha'Shabbos" is an injunction to remember the first Shabbos of the Creation. After all, the Torah does go on to present this as the main objective of the Mitzvah of Shabbos, as we explained earlier.

Whereas the Chizkuni, in one of his explanations, interprets "Shomor" as an injunction to await the Shabbos eagerly berfore it enters, like Rebbi Yanai, who used to don his Shabbos clothes before greeting the Shabbos with the words 'Come oh bride, come oh bride!'

No doubt however,the Mechilta inverted the D'rashos, in keeping with the order used by the Torah, first "Zochor" and then "Shomor".


Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

Moshe Sees it All

"You began to show Your servant)" 3:24.

The word "to show" appears on two other occasions, observes the Ba'al ha'Turim. " ... to show the people and the princes her beauty" and "what he gave in Shushan to destroy them he gave him to show Esther" (both in Megilas Esther). This hints at Chazal, who have taught that G-d showed Moshe the future of K'lal Yisrael, how they would dwell in their tranquility on the one hand, and all their oppressors on the other.


Good G-d!

This Pasuk begins with an 'Aleph' and ends with a 'Chaf', and in addition, it contains twenty-one letters.

To hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, at the Pasuk in Tehilim "Ach tov le'Yisrael" (only goodness for Yisrael), and at the Name 'Ehekeh', the Name of G-d that appeared to Moshe at the Burning Bush (and whose numerical value is twenty-one [see also 'Giving the Torah in Egypt' later]).


That's How to Daven

We are only permitted to request our own needs after praising Hashem, in the way that we do in the Amidah. And we learn this from none other than Moshe - here.

"You began to show me Your greatness corresponds to 'ho'Keil ha'Gadol'; "and Your strong Hand" to 'Atoh Gibor'; and "asher mi Keil ba'Shamayim", to 'Atoh Kodosh'. And only then did Moshe request "Please let me cross and see the good land".


The Four Nations

"And G-d will scatter you among the peoples (bo'amim), and you will remain few in number among the nations (ba'goyim) that G-d will lead (yenaheg) you there (shomoh)" (4:27).

Remarkably, the four nations who will 'exile' us are all hinted in this Pasuk, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out.

"bo'amim" has the same numerical value as 'bein ha'Bavliyim' (among the Babylonians); ba'goyim, as 'u've'Madai' (and among the Medes). "yenaheg" is equivalent to 'u've'Yavan' (and in Greece), and "shomoh", to 'me'Romi'yim' (from the Romans).


Serving gods, Serving G-d

"And you will serve gods there that are man-made' (4:28).

The Torah writes simply 'gods', and not 'other gods' ("elohim acheirim"), as it usually does. This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that the Jews in Galus 'serve idols with purity' (with a pure heart).

What he probably means is that whereas in the period of the Judges and later during the time of the first Beis-Hamikdash, when Yisrael adopted the gods of the nations around them, they did so with conviction. Not so in Galus, where they serve idols either out of ignorance, or because they are forced to.

In the same way as a Mitzvah is worth that much less when one's heart is not in it, so too, is an Aveirah (a sin).


Giving the Torah in Egypt

"Or has any G-d ever attempted ('O ha'nisoh Elohim) to come and take himself a nation from within a nation ... " (4:34).

This Pasuk contains the entire 'Alef-Beis'. The Ba'al ha'Turim explains that this is because G-d really intended to give us the Torah (symbolized by the 'Alef-Beis') in Egypt. Then why didn't He?

Because the Midas ha'Din insisted that Yisrael must be given a trial period. And that explains why, he says, we find the word "ha'Nisoh" in one other place in T'nach, where it means 'test'. The Pasuk in Iyov (4:2) writes "If He tests you ("ha'Nisoh") with one thing you will become weary".

This hints at the claim of the Midas ha'Din 'Test them before You teach them Your words' which we just referred to. The Pasuk also begins with an 'Alef', and ends with a. In addition, 'Ehkeh' is the Name with which G-d took us out of Egypt and which He uses to smite the nations'Chaf' (see also 'Good G-d'!).

And, the Ba'al ha'Turim concludes, the Pasuk lists seven things (which are discussed by the Ba'al Hagadah) "with trials, with signs and with wonders ... ". This corresponds, he says to the seven days that each plague lasted and to the seven days of Pesach. Perhaps, we may add, 'Zayin' means weapons (and the Pasuk after all, is describing G-d's battle with the Egyptians).


There is No Other

"And you shall know today ... that Hashem is G-d in the Heaven above and on the earth below, there is no other ('Ein od')" (4:39).

Six times the words "Ein od" appear in T'nach, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, implying that He is the sole Master of the world. This signifies the six directions, north, south, east and west, Heaven and earth.

It is interesting that the symbol of the Magen David has six points, whereas the cross (the Christian symbol) has only four.

The Amidah

(based largely on the Siddur "Otzar ha'Tefillos")
(Part XXIV)

The B'rachah of 'T'ka be'Shofar Gadol' (cont.)

Ve'Kabtzeinu Yachad ...

The Eitz Yosef, based on his explanation that the first two phrases of the B'rachah refer to the Galus of the ten tribes and that of Yehudah from all over the world respectively, adds that this is also what we mean when we say 'and gather us together'. The return of the exiles from Bavel unfortunately, only affected part of K'lal Yisrael, he points out, so we ask Hashem that this time, He should bring us all back to Eretz Yisrael simultaneously.

The Iyun Tefilah explains it as a prayer to gather us all to Eretz Yisrael, and not to different collecting centers (which would also constitute 'the gathering of the exiles'. The advantage of this will be that once we are all gathered in Eretz Yisrael, the Mitzvos that are connected with Eretz Yisrael (such as Yovel, Eved Ivri, Botei Orei Chomah ... ) will immediately come into effect.


Mekabetz Nidchei Amo Yisrael

The Iyun Tefilah explains the insertion of the word "Amo" (His people) in the B'rachah (even though it does not appear in the Pasuk in Yeshayah [56:8] on which it is based). We are expressing the hope, he says, that not only will G-d redeem us, but that we will be 'His people', worthy of being redeemed.

And the Achris Shalom goes on to explain that, in the B'rachah of Go'el Yisrael, the word 'Amo' is not inserted, because the Ge'ulah will come about at two possible levels, as Chazal have taught. It is possible that we will be deemed worthy of redemption, in which case G-d will redeem us in our own rights. But it is also possible that we will in fact, not be worthy of redemption, and that we will only be redeemed because of our Tzoros, and because we are that much better than our tormentors.

Consequently, the current B'rachah adds 'Amo', hinting at the former of the two, as the Iyun Tefilah explains. Whereas the B'rachah of 'Re'ei no ve'onyeinu', which talks about G-d taking our part against our oppressors, refers to the latter level of Ge'ulah, when we will be redeemed because of our Tzoros.


The B'rachah of 'Hoshivoh Shofteinu'

The Levush writes that this B'rachah (the eleventh) corresponds to the angels' proclamation 'Melech ohev Tzedakah u'mishpot', when Moshe taught Yisrael the Parshah of 'Mishpatim'.

It follows the B'rachah of Kibutz Galuyos, because, in compliance with the Pasuk in Yirmiyah (1:26), the judgement of the Resha'im will take place after the ingathering of the exiles.

All the letters of the 'Aleph, Beis' appear in this B'rachah with the exception of the 'Zayin'. The 'Zayin' corresponds (among other things) to the seven different punishments that exist, the four deaths at the hand of Beis-Din, death at the hand of G-d, Malkos and Makas Mardus (mi'de'Rabbanan). And it corresponds to the seven praises with which we praise G-d each day (Tehilim 119:164), which serve in turn, to save us from "seven (punishments) like your sins" (mentioned in Bechukosai).


The Ya'aros D'vash writes that, when reciting this B'rachah, one should have special Kavanah for the return of the Sanhedrin, since they constitute the Throne of G-d, and the return of the Shechinah depends on their return. As long as the Sanhedrin sat in its place, the Glory of G-d hovered over Yisrael. This explains he says, why the Rambam writes that Mashi'ach will not come until the return of the Sanhedrin, as the Pasuk states (Tehilim 122:5) "for there sat thrones of judgement, thrones for the house of David". (And this is surely based on the Pasuk in Yeshayah (1:27 ) "Tziyon will be redeemed with justice".

In this B'rachah we should pray for the restoration of decent and straight judges, not 'justices of silver and gold', devoid of Torah who care only for money (or prestige). Because when they pervert justice, they, and those who appoint them, bring upon the world a variety of terrible punishments, as the Mishnah describes in Pirkei Avos.

On the other hand, when Yisrael has competent judges, an abundance of goodness descends upon the world. And that is why, in the middle of this B'rachah, we insert the words 'And remove from us grief and sighing', because the two are interdependent.

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