For your Bar Mitzvah.
Tired of giving out the same old Bircas Hamazone and zemiros booklets?
Try a new touch from Kinder Torah.
"Shalom, kinderlach, I'm home!"
"Shalom Abba? It's great to see you! Did you go to the kennes (gathering) at the seminary?"
"I certainly did kinderlach."
"How was it, Abba?"
"Excellent, kinderlach. One of the Gedolei Yisrael spoke. He brought out many important points in chinuch (education). One of them was about singing zemiros (songs) at the Shabbos table."
"We love singing zemiros, Abba."
"That is wonderful. The Rav revealed a fact that will add so much to our zemiros, kinderlach. He said that when the Abba explains the zemer before it is sung, and then the family sings it together, this connects shomayim va'aretz (heaven and earth) and causes Heaven to come down here to earth."
"That is astounding, Abba."
"I know. I am very excited about it, kinderlach. Let us try it this Shabbos with the first zemer of the evening, 'Kol Mekadesh'."
Shabbos arrives. After kiddush and hamotzi, the family is ready to sing.
"Please explain the words of 'Kol Mekadesh' to us, Abba."
"I have been preparing for this, kinderlach. Here we go … 'Whoever sanctifies the Shabbos as befits it ... protects it properly from desecration ... His reward is exceedingly great.' How do we fulfill the first stanza of this zemer? By learning the halachos of observing Shabbos properly; both the positive commandments of honoring and enjoying the Shabbos, and the negative commandments of not violating the melachos. We then carry out what we have learned and we receive ..."
"Exceedingly great reward! What is the reward, Abba?"
"Our sages say that we are saved from the birth pangs of moshiach, the war of Gog and Magog, and the final day of judgment. Hashem will fulfill our wishes, forgive our sins, and distance us from all further sins. We are also blessed with wealth. The blessing comes on Shabbos itself (lechem mishna - a double portion of food) and spreads into the other days pf the week."
"What a motivation to strengthen our Shabbos observance, Abba!"
"Yes, kinderlach. We continue … 'Those who love Hashem ... On Shabbos rejoice and are glad.' The Netziv points out that although the mitzvah of happiness on Shabbos is not explicitly written in the Torah, it is included in the mitzvah of oneg (delighting in) Shabbos. 'Like receiving the gift of nachliel.' The Ohr HaChaim relates that nachliel is from the root 'nachalah' - inheritance. Hashem chose us among all of the nations to be His inheritance - special for Him. An example of our special relationship is that He gave 'menucha' (the tranquility of Shabbos) to His beloved nation Yisrael."
"What an expressions of love, Abba!"
"Yes kinderlach, the zemer says that we bless Him for this. We are the descendants of Avraham, who sought out and recognized Hashem out of pure love. He is therefore called 'Avraham ohavo'. We add on to Shabbos when it leaves and enters. The Medrash HaGadol (parashas Ki Sisa) relates that fear of violating Shabbos is the motivation for this. Our great love for Shabbos also prompts us to welcome it early and part with it as late as possible. Now, let us proceed to the next verse, kinderlach. Have you ever seen the kallah (bride) sitting in her special chair before the wedding?"
"Yes, Abba. She is surrounded by her loved ones."
"Correct, kinderlach, The Shabbos is compared to a bride. She is situated in the middle of the week surrounded by the other six days. The three preceding days are for preparing for Shabbos, and the three following days glow with the spiritual light that the Shabbos casts into the week. Therefore, Shabbos is referred to as 'A bride between her beloved ones.'" "What a new way to appreciate the beauty of Shabbos, Abba."
"Yes, kinderlach. Let us continue. '(We) pure ones inherit (the Shabbos) and sanctify the day with the words of Kiddush, "On the seventh day Hashem contemplated the work which He had done." So too we refrain from melacha and use the free time to contemplate Hashem's creation and strengthen our emunah (faith) in Him.
"All of the descendants of Yaakov Avinu should honor the Shabbos (each one according to his abilities), and enjoy it."
"How do we enjoy it, Abba?"
"By resting, being happy, and taking pleasure in delicious food and drink. Next, we ask from Hashem, 'Gladden those who keep the Shabbos with the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. They should glow with the light of Your face, be satisfied with the abundance of Your house, and drink from the stream of Your Eden.' The Malbim relates that the stream of Eden is a parable to Hashem's Torah, mitzvos, Shechina (Divine Presence), and prophecy."
"What a gift!"
"Hashem's generosity is endless. The next stanza contains many fundamental points. Hashem provides parnassa (livelihood) to those who do not work on Shabbos. There was a time when people felt they would lose money by resting on Shabbos. The zemer tells us that Hashem helps them. We then learn of a way to honor Shabbos even when we are walking! Take short strides, not like during the week. Now, let me ask you a question, kinderlach. Can you give me a new reason why we eat three sumptuous meals on Shabbos?"
"In order to bless Hashem!"
"Excellent! That is exactly what the zemer says! And that brings us to the final stanza, kinderlach. It speaks about the great spiritual light that was present in the world during the six days of creation. That light was hidden after the sin of Adam HaRishon. However, we ask Hashem that the righteousness of those who observe Shabbos should blaze forth like that hidden light. Then we proclaim Hashem's perfect love and eternal salvation for His beloved nation, Klal Yisrael!"
"Abba, that was fantastic. We are so inspired. Let us all now sing Kol Mekadesh and bring Heaven down to earth!"
"With Hashem's help, kinderlach. 'Kol mekadesh shvii ... '"
Kinderlach . . .
The zemiros are very special part of the Shabbos table. They are wonderful melodies that gladden the souls of those who sing them. The words are also very inspiring. We now see a new aspect of these holy songs. When explained properly and then sung, they can connect Heaven and earth! What an awesome spiritual power! What a magnificent spiritual pleasure! This Shabbos, kinderlach, enjoy your zemiros in a deeper way. Ask Abba to explain them. Then sing them and enjoy the connection of Heaven and earth.
Why did Yaakov refer to his sons as his brothers? (Rashi 31:46)
How much faster did Lavan travel than Yaakov? (Rashi 31:23)
How was Lavan blessed by Yaakov presence? (Rashi 30:27)
Kinder Torah Copyright 2008 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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