Parashas Devarim 5780 – Shabbos, the Exceptional Gift

The Sefer Devarim starts with a Verse that has all the Sages perplexed. “These are the words which Moshe spoke to all Israel on that side of the Jordan.” The Bnei Yisrael were in the Millions, how did Moshe manage to address them all and be heard? Besides, Moshe refused the mission to go to Egypt and to address Pharaoh since he was stuttering. How is it then possible for him, on the last day of his life, to instruct the entire Sefer Devarim to the entire Nation? Rashi explains: “These are the words” teaches us that Moshe’s rebuke is limited to the tally of the places where they had angered Hashem. The reason the incidents are not mentioned and are rather alluded to by mentioning only the names of the places, is out of respect for the Yidden. Apparently, this rebuke is against the Halacha. The Rambam “Laws of Repentance” [7:8] states; It is a great sin to remind a repentant his past sins. How then Moshe starts his last discourse by a virulent admonition about their past sins? Besides, the all the sinners had already perished, and Moshe was addressing their children. It seems questionable as what is the benefit to remind them their parents’ sins. Chazal reveal that the Shechinah would always speak from Moshe’s throat, and it is so hinted in the verse. The words “ן ְּד ְּר ְּי ְּהְּר ְּב ְּע ְּב ” could be translated “After the Yarden” hinting to look at the letters following the word “ן ְּד ְּר ְּי .“The result is surprising as it forms the word “ְּה ְּינ ְּכ ְּש ,“the Shechinah. It was indeed Hashem Spirit that was addressing the Bnei Yisrael from Moshe’s throat. This answers how was Moshe heard by millions of individual, but not why the scolding. This Parasha always precedes the mourning day of Tisha Beav, on which day both temples were destroyed. It was a direct consequence to the spies bad mouthing the Land of Israel, and the nation cried that night. Hashem promised then to provide us a good reason to cry through the generations. That night was Tisha Beav. However, in the very punishment is the salvation hinted, as the numerical value of “ב ְּא ְּבְּה ְּע ְּש ְּת “is 780 [30×26 the name of Hashem], which is also the numerical value of “ל ְּח ְּמְּת ְּב ְּש .“In other words, Shabbos has the power to expiate that sin and to abolish the mourning of Tisha Beav. Shabbos is the innermost point and essence of the week because the Shechinah resides within Shabbos, which shares holiness with all the weekdays. The metaphor of the week is the Menorah with its 7 branches representing the weekdays. Shabbos is in the center and has 3 days on each side to provide the Divine blessing to the entire week. This explains why the thirty-nine Melachos of the Mishkan were forbidden on Shabbos. Rashi [Shemos 31:13] states, “Although you are rushing and swift to do the work [of building the Mishkan], Shabbos should not be desecrated…” The reason being, that the primary purpose for building the Mishkan was to make a place for the Shechinah to reside. On Shabbos the Shechinah resides even without building the Mishkan because the Shechinah always resides within Shabbos. Therefore, it was not necessary to build the Mishkan on Shabbos. The following story will illustrate this point. Rabbi Zusha and his brother Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk exiled themselves for many years to hasten the arrival of Mashiach. Their customs were different; Reb Elimelech would always try to stay for Shabbos by a rich person, so to have a real Oneg Shabbos with a lavish seuda. Whereas, Reb Zusha would rather stay by a poor person, who was a scholar. At one of their wanderings, they came to a little shtetl. Reb Zusha decided to stay there, whereas Reb Elimelech knew of a rich person in a close-by city and decided to spend the Shabbos by him. Reb Elimelech asked his brother to come with him to the city as he would easily find poor people there too. Reb Zusha replied:” I have a hunch that in this village resides one of the 36 hidden Tzaddikim and I want to spend Shabbos by him. Reb Elimelech understood, and he parted ways from his brother. Reb Zusha went to the home of a Yid where he sensed a unique bliss and knocked on the door. He asked if he could be their guest for Shabbos. The husband was not home, so in his stead his wife answered, “It might be a problem since we barely have bread and water for ourselves and would not have enough to share with a guest!” Reb Zusha answered: “No need to worry, I have enough food and can also share some of my food with you!” She informed her husband that they would have a guest for Shabbos who brought his own food. Reb Zusha was ushered in and started preparing himself for Shabbos. The husband was dressed as a pauper with patches on his clothing. He totally ignored Reb Zusha and did not even greet him. After davening Friday night, the pauper kept on ignoring Reb Zusha and did not wish him Good Shabbos. During the meal, Reb Zusha did not take his eyes off the poor person. He clearly felt he was in the presence of a very holy man, and probably one of the 36 hidden Tzaddikim. Thus, he was bothered by the fact the host conducted himself as a typical ignoramus who rattled off the Zemiros and the Bentching! Reb Zusha was mystified and baffled when again at the Shabbos Seuda the host acted as a true ignorant who was mispronouncing and swallowing the words of Bentching. It could no be the behavior of a holy man, doubts started creeping in, has he made a mistake? But! at Shalosh Seudos as Reb Zusha prepared to wash, he suddenly found himself in an open field! He looked for food to accomplish the Mitzva of Shalosh Seudos but could not find any. This troubled him, and sorrow for not following his brother’s advice started to overwhelm him. He had to remind himself time and time over that everything Hashem does is for the best. That helped him regain his composure, and then noticed a cave opening. He entered it and what he saw left him speechless, 36 men were sitting around a table and eating Shalosh Seudos. Each one of them was beaming with the Heavenly light of Shabbos and their radiance made them look like Angels. His host sat at the head, with an aura of Kedusha! He greeted Reb Zusha warmly and invited him to wash and sit at the table. Reb Zusha was in Oilam Habba, with such bliss of Shabbos and the comfort he did not mistaken. The host said to Reb Zusha: “I must warn you not to dare tell a soul what you saw, lest you would be punished harshly!” After Maariv, Reb Zusha found himself back at the house; he profusely thanked his hosts for the exceptional Shabbos and left. Sunday morning, Reb Elimelech met up his brother and noticed that he was beaming. He understood something big must have happened over Shabbos. He decide to enquire but Reb Zusha would not answer. Reb Elimelech prodded him, and Reb Zusha revealed all that he saw. That week the brothers continued their exile and one night they slept in an inn. They always woke up before dawn, prepared themselves to Daven, and afterward continued traveling. In that inn, there was a Poritz that was on his way to a business deal and had a large sack with gold coins. When he woke up, he noticed the money had disappeared, and when he heard that there were two Jews that left the inn unusually early, he grew suspicious and ordered his servants to fetch them and bring them back. The brothers were brought back to the Poritz who accused them of stealing his money. When they denied it and offered to have their belongings checked, the Poritz ordered his servants to whip Reb Zusha to force him to reveal where they hid the money. They cruelly beat him and would not stop Suddenly, the door opened and a second a high ranked Military officer entered the room. He drew his gun and ordered the Poritz to cease hitting this person as it is obvious, he is not a thief! Reb Zusha was baffled and relieved that the beating was over. As Reb Zusha walked by the officer, the officer whispered to him: “If you are told not to tell, you don’t tell!!” Reb Zusha understood the message, and everything was clear to him. Shabbos is an incredibly unique gift Hashem gave us. It has supernatural powers. One who keeps Shabbos can unleash them.

By Rabbi Fridmann * rabbifridmann@badatzmiami.com * 305.985.3461

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