Thursday, March 26, 2015


Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – ASHAR
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor


          Rabbi Yaakov Galinsky zt’l was a noted orator and Rosh Yeshiva in Chadera, Israel. One day as he was saying shiur some years ago, he received a message that the local Chief of Police wanted to see him at Police Headquarters. As soon as Rabbi Galinskly walked into the station a noticeably irreligious man began to verbally attack him, yelling loudly and spewing a vicious invective about religious people. But he was talking so animatedly and quickly that no one could understand what he wanted.
          After a few minutes the Chief of Police was able to get the man to settle down somewhat. The man looked at Rabbi Galinsky with venomous enmity. “You are brainwashing my son! My son is a student in your yeshiva, living according to the laws of religion, totally contrary to the way his mother and I raised him. You have indoctrinated him so well that he does not want to even leave your institution. I demand that you send him back home!”
          Rabbi Galinsky was shocked by the accusation. He knew the boy well and knew that the boy had entered the yeshiva on his own volition. Sometime earlier, the boy had begun learning with someone and decided that he wanted to pursue his studies in a religious environment. He had entered the yeshiva and was thrilled to be there. Rabbi Galinsky tried to explain to the man that his son was free to leave whenever he desired, but the man was so irate he wouldn’t even listen. He kept screaming that his son had been brainwashed and was being forced to remain in the yeshiva.
          The Chief of Police tried to calm the situation, until Rabbi Galinsky was able to maintain a more congenial conversation with him. The man explained that his father had been a Sokolover chassid, but that he himself had run away from that ‘insipid and insular lifestyle’. He had grown up on a kibbutz where he was able to live ‘freely’. “All I want is that my son should follow in my ways”, exclaimed the father, becoming angry again.
          “But he is doing just that”, retorted Rabbi Galinsky. “You rebelled against your father and now your son – like you – is rebelling against his father!” [1]

Parshas Vayikra, the opening portion of Chumash Vaykira discusses the various korbanos (offerings) from the vantage point of the person bringing the offering. Parshas Tzav, the second portion, discusses the offerings from the vantage point of the Kohain who performed the Service in the Temple.
Throughout parshas Vayikra the Torah refers to “the sons of Aharon, the kohanim” or “the Kohain” as being the one who performed the Service.[2] It does not say that Aharon himself performed the Service. The Medrash[3] notes that Moshe questioned G-d about the fact that the commands were not directed at Aharon. G-d replied, “I swear, that because of you I will draw him close. Furthermore, I will make him (Aharon) primary and his children secondary. (This was fulfilled in the beginning of parshas Tzav-) “G-d spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Command Aharon and his sons…’”
The first Service performed each morning in the Mishkan was Terumas Hadeshen – separating the ash. This entailed removing a portion of the previous day’s ashes from the Altar. The Kohain scooped up a shovelful from the innermost ashes on the Altar and placed it on the floor of the Courtyard, east of the ramp that lead to the top of the Altar. In regards to this Service, the Torah addresses the command to Aharon (and his sons).
How does this Service demonstrate that Aharon was the ‘primary performer’ of all of the Service?
Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch explained that by taking a portion from the previous day’s service and placing it on the side of the Altar prior to beginning the new day’s Service, it symbolized that the new day’s Service was a continuation of the previous day’s Service.
Although new offerings were not brought at night, the night had its own Service. All of the fats and limbs from the offerings of the day were burned, so that the fire upon the Altar continued to burn through the night, fueled by the remnants placed upon it. Thus, every day maintained a connection with the previous day, ensuring that the Service was perpetually connected to the original Service commanded by G-d.
Rabbi Hirsch expresses this idea in his typically brilliant diction: “It would give the idea, as the introduction to the Service of the day, that today brings no new mission, it has only to carry out, ever afresh, the mission that yesterday too was to accomplish. The very last Jewish grandchild stands there, before G-d, with the same mission of life that his first ancestors bore, and that every day adds to all its predecessors in the whole passing of the centuries, his contribution to the solution of the task given to all the generations of the House of Israel. That Jewish today has to take its mission from the hand of its yesterday.” 
 Rabbi Nissan Alpert zt’l utilizes this idea to explain the significance of terumas hadeshen and why it particularly assuaged Aharon. Terumas hadeshen symbolized continuity, that every step of the Service had to be attributable and ‘connected’ to the traditions initiated by Aharon. The terumas hadeshen symbolized that every Kohain for all time would be performing the “Service of Aharon”.

The Shabbos prior to Pesach is known as “Shabbos Hagadol – the Great Shabbos”.[4] The commentators wonder why the miracle that transpired at that time is commemorated specifically on the week date (i.e. Shabbos prior to Pesach), and not on the calendar date when it occurred (i.e. 10 Nissan)?
The Torah writes that observing Shabbos serves as an inherent reminder of the two most seminal events in history. In its first recording of the Ten Commandments[5] the Torah states “Remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it… For in six days G-d made the heavens and the earth…and He rested on the seventh day…” In its second recording of the Ten Commandments[6] however, the Torah offers an alternative explanation for observing Shabbos. “Safeguard the Shabbos day to sanctify it… And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Hashem, your G-d, has taken you out from there with a Strong Hand and an Outstretched Arm; therefore, Hashem, your G-d, has commanded you to make the Shabbos day.”[7]
Rambam[8] explains that the first luchos record the reason why the day of Shabbos is inherently a day of holiness and sanctity. Since G-d completed the process of creation and ‘rested’, the day became sacred. The second Tablets explain the reason why the holiness of Shabbos is exclusively endemic to the Jewish people. According to the reason inscribed on the first Tablets, it would seem that the entire world should be obligated to observe Shabbos. To dispel that notion, in the second luchos the Torah states that only the nation whom G-d freed from servitude and oppression and thereby chose to be ‘His People’, are obligated to observe Shabbos. A Jew keeps Shabbos as a reminder of the fact that G-d has a personally vested interest in him, as it were.[9]

With this in mind we can offer the following explanation[10]: The Medrash[11] relates that even during the darkest days of the Egyptian exile the Jews observed Shabbos. But while they were still prisoners in Egypt their Shabbos served solely as a remembrance of the fact that G-d created the world.
On that fateful Shabbos just prior to the exodus, when the Jews set aside the offerings they would bring as their Korbon Pesach, the Jews demonstrated their unyielding belief in G-d and their fearlessness of their former captors. That courageous act symbolized that the Jews were worthy of redemption, and essentially served as the underpinnings of the imminent exodus. It was that valor and courage that set the trajectory of redemption in motion. During that Shabbos, for the first time there was an added reason for the observance of Shabbos. On that Shabbos, all future Shabbosos were infused with the added dimension of being a testament to the fact that G-d had chosen us to be His Nation.

What is the meaning of gedulah- greatness?
Greatness connotes something beyond normal. Everything in our finite world is bound to the limitations of time and space. Therefore, anything that transcends normal limits and confines possesses a certain measure of greatness.
A person is able to accomplish a limited amount within a normal lifetime. As soon as one dies his ability to accomplish and to influence ceases. “His spirit departs from him, he returns to the earth; on that day all his calculations are lost.[12]” Therefore, if one is able to continue to influence and accomplish postmortem, he has achieved greatness.
The second aspect of Shabbos - as a symbol of the exodus - reminds us of our status as the Chosen Nation. As the descendants of those who lived the exodus, we are the bearers of that heritage. In this sense Shabbos binds all generations of Klal Yisroel together. Our observance of Shabbos is inextricably bound to the Shabbos observance of our deceased predecessors, dating back to our forbearers who left Egypt.
Although every Shabbos contains greatness[13], Shabbos Hagadol has an added level of greatness[14]. It was during this Shabbos that every Shabbos forevermore attained added greatness. Shabbos was no longer merely a commemoration of creation. Now it was also a celebration of the exclusivity of Klal Yisroel.

The aforementioned idea espoused by Rabbi Hirsch about the terumas hadeshen connects beautifully to this idea about Shabbos Hagadol. In the words of Rabbi Hirsch, “Jewish today has to take its mission from the hand of its yesterday.”  This second facet of Shabbos, which was realized jut prior to the time of the exodus, demonstrates the continuity and permanence of the Jewish People. 
When I recite Kiddush on Friday night, I often try to picture in my mind my ancestors reciting Kiddush in the shtetls of yesteryear, as well as Jews reciting the same words throughout the world. Shabbos observance binds us all together; from the simplest Jew to the most sublime.
The Shabbos when that ‘greatness’ was first realized becomes crowned with the title ‘the Great Shabbos’. 

The holiday of Pesach is deeply connected with this idea as well. The night of the seder is the night of tradition, transmission, and faith. The theme of the night is, והגדת לבנך" - And you shall tell your sons”. More than any other time of the year, Pesach is a time of connection.
A number of years ago[15], my Rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein mused, “At my seder, my father[16] attends, as well as many of my children and grandchildren. My father remembers his grandfather, and, G-d willing, my grandchildren will live to see their grandchildren. During the seder my father shares with us thoughts and insights that he heard from his grandfather, who was a disciple of a disciple of the great Gaon of Vilna[17]. So there is essentially representation of three hundred years of tradition - past, present, and future - that are sitting at our seder table. If you count eleven families like that you have reached back 3300 years to Sinai and the exodus!”
Pesach is about tradition and maintaining our connection with our illustrious past, as well as our guaranteed future. That process begins the Shabbos prior to the exodus. The ashes of yesterday ignite the fire of today, and continue to burn into the future. Shabbos symbolizes that perpetual bond.

There is yet a third aspect of Shabbos. Our Sages relate that Shabbos is a ‘taste of the World to Come’; a window into a world of Divine bliss when “You are one, and Your Name is One, and who is like Your Nation Israel, one nation on the earth!”[18]
When we observe Shabbos, and remember the creation of the world and that we are the Chosen People, we are also reminded that the eternal redemption is imminent. The time will come when G-d will fulfill His pledge, “like the days when you departed Egypt I will show you wonders![19]” 

“G-d spoke to Moshe saying: command Aharon and his sons”
“A memorial of the exodus from Egypt

[1] Source: Rabbi Paysach Krohn, “Around the Maggid’s Table”
[2] In regards to the Mincha offering it says it shall be eaten by Aharon and his sons. But when it mentions performing the service it says that it will be performed by the sons of Aharon.
[3] 7:1
[4]The Tur at the beginning of his discussion of the laws of Pesach (Siman 430) records, “The Shabbos before Pesach is known as “Shabbos HaGadol-the Great Shabbos”. The reason for the unique title of this Shabbos is because of the great miracle that transpired during this Shabbos. In Egypt, on the tenth of Nissan, just prior to the exodus, G-d commanded the Jews to choose and set aside the lamb they would offer as their paschal Sacrifice. If the actual exodus transpired on the fifteenth of Nissan which was a Thursday, then the tenth of Nissan occurred on Shabbos. Every family gathered their own lamb and tied it to their bed posts. When the Egyptians saw what the Jews were doing they demanded an explanation. The Jews explained that G-d had commanded them to set aside a lamb to be offered as a sacrifice to Him. When the Egyptians heard that the Jews were going to offer their god as a sacrifice (the lamb was the god of Egypt) they became incensed, yet their teeth were blunted and they were powerless to say or do anything to impede the sacrifices from being offered. In commemoration of that great miracle the Shabbos became known as ‘Shabbos HaGadol-the Great Shabbos’.”
[5] inscribed upon the first set of luchos - Shemos 20:8-12
[6] inscribed upon the second set of luchos
[7] Devorim 5:12-15
[8] Moreh Nevuchim (2:31)
[9] This idea is reflected in the Kiddush recited each Friday Night at the onset of Shabbos. “Blessed are you, Hashem, our G-d… His holy Shabbos – with love and desire – He gave us as a heritage, a remembrance of creation. For that day is the prologue to the holy convocations, a memorial of the exodus from Egypt. For us did you chose and us did You sanctify from all the nations. And Your holy Shabbos, with love and desire did You give us a heritage. Blessed are you, G-d, Who sanctifies the Shabbos.”  
At first glance it would seem that the blessing is redundant. Why do we repeat the fact that G-d chose us with desire and love and granted us Shabbos as a heritage? Truthfully however, two different aspects of Shabbos are being reflected. The first mention of Shabbos refers to it as, “a remembrance of creation”. But that reason alone is insufficient, as it does not explain why the rest of the world doesn’t keep Shabbos. So we continue by mentioning that Shabbos is the starting point from which all other holy times emerge a, “memorial of the exodus from Egypt”. It is because of that second facet of Shabbos that, “us did you chose and us did You sanctify from all the nations. And Your holy Shabbos, with love and desire did You give us a heritage”; specifically ‘us’ the Chosen people, and not the other nations.
[10] Based on a lecture by Harav Nosson Gestetner zt’l (L’horos Nosson (Moadim vol. 2, Shabbos Hagadol 5765), with some variance.
[11] Shemos Rabbah 1:28
[12] Tehillim (146:4)
[13] as we state in the bentching of Shabbos (in the retzay prayer), “The great and holy Shabbos”,
[14] The Gerrer Rebbe termed this Shabbos ‘gadol sheb’gadolim – the greatest of the great.’ 
[15] Nissan 5766 (1996)
[16]  the late Rabbi Zev Wein zt’l
[17] 1720-1797
[18] From the Shemone Esrei of Shabbos Mincha
[19] Zechariah 7:15


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