Infusion and Input

Naaleh_logo Shiur provided courtesy of

Adapted by Channie Koplowitz Stein

Parshat Emor continues to inform Bnei Yisroel of points of sanctity that connect Hakodosh Boruch Hu and ourselves. In the middle of the Parshah we have a juxtaposition that demands analysis. The section begins with, "These are the מועדי ה/ appointed festivals that you are to designate as מקראי קדש/ holy convocations. These are My appointed festivals." This verse is immediately followed not by a listing of the festivals, but by Shabbat -- "For six days labor shall be done. and the seventh day is שבת שבתון/ a day of complete rest, מקרא קדש/ a holy convocation, you shall not do any work; it is a Shabbat for Hashem..."

Rashi explains the most basic meaning of this juxtaposition, that both Shabbat and the festivals are equally important in observation, that one must observe each with the same integrity as one observes the other, and one who desecrates either is counted as if he desecrated the other as well.

Rabbi Gifter zt”l puts our question into focus. While Hashem Himself designated each seventh day as Shabbat, it is mankind, through the Sanhedrin, that regulates the calendar months and determines when the festivals will be celebrated. Why begin a discussion of the festivals with Shabbat? How do we characterize the sanctity of Shabbat that elevates the festivals?

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l explains that Shabbat and the holidays are indeed interconnected. When we observe Shabbat, we are testifying to our belief that Hashem created the world. When we observe the holidays, we are testifying to our belief that Hashem is still intimately involved in the world and in Divine Providence, as we declare that we remember the exodus from Egypt. The belief in one without the other is meaningless. Therefore the Torah juxtaposed the mitzvah of Shabbat to the mitzvah of the festivals.

The Novominsker Rav zt”l adds another dimension to the connection between Shabbat and the yomim tovim. Multiple times a day we recite Shema. We begin with the declaration of our belief in One God and continue with the exhortation to love Hashem with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our resources. The Novominsker Rebbe explains that "with all our hearts" refers to Pesach, while

with all our soul" refers to Shavuot, and "with all our resources " refers to Sukkot. We must begin with the knowledge that Hashem is One, and continue with our love for Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Therefore, we begin with Shabbat that testifies to our knowledge of the Oneness of Hashem before we can move on to love Hashem. Neither knowing without feeling and emotion, nor emotion without knowing can be complete without the other. Therefore, observing either Shabbos without observing yom tov, or vice versa, is not truly observing either.

Shabbos is the foundation of our belief. We are meant to be aware of Hashem's presence all the time. When the Beit Hamikdosh existed, the evidence of His Presence was clear, in the eternal light of the Menorah and the ever fresh bread on the Table. Although we do not have these reminders today, we have Shabbat, the constant reminder of Hashem's presence. During the rest of the week, we have difficulty seeing Hashem because the world is clouded in darkness. But Shabbat is a day of complete light, writes Rabbi Pincus zt”l. While there is day and night throughout creation, day and night for the holidays, there is no mention of night with Shabbat. Shabbat is the time we have complete knowledge of Hashem, a time to build our relationship with Him. Therefore it is not a time to make requests of Him. However, having built the relationship, having valued that relationship through our dressing, acting and eating in ways that would befit an honored Guest, we can later ask our dear Friend for a favor at another time.

First, we must be satisfied, we must have the faith represented by Shabbat, writes the Slonimer Rebbe zt”l in Netivot Shalom. Only then can we enjoy the holidays fully. This is the message behind the prayer in our Shabbat Mussaf,כלם ישבעו ויתענגו מטובך, one must first be satisfied before one can enjoy. Shabbat represents the faith that satisfies us, that builds the initial relationship with Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Then, each of the holidays adds a different aspect and character to our knowledge of Hashem. Pesach reveals the aspect of chesed, loving kindness; Shavuot reveals His splendor and glory; Sukkot reveals His power and restraint.

Building on the comparison and contrast between Shabbat and the yomim tovim, we can understand why all constructive work is prohibited on both with the unique exception of food preparation, explains Rav Dovid Hofstedter. With the essence of Shabbat coming directly from Hashem, we dedicate the entire day to Hashem. However, since the Jewish people determine the sanctity of the day for holidays, the day's dedication is divided between God and man. Just as we sanctified the day, so are we to elevate and sanctify the enjoyment of the day through physical means.

 We are tapping into the sanctity of Shabbat by infusing the day we designate as yom tov, with the sanctity of Shabbat, writes the Netivot Shalom. All our food preparations for Shabbat must be done before Shabbat, thereby infusing the sanctity of Shabbat into the weekday preparations. Our food preparation on Yom Tov itself serves a similar purpose, to infuse the sanctity of Shabbat into Yom Tov. As long as you are involved in infusing sanctity into your yom tov cooking, you are considered as if you are keeping Shabbat as well, even if you cannot reach the spiritual, psychological and emotional levels of full sanctity. As the Sifsei Daas writes, we are commanded to remember the Shabbat Day to make it holy, for through it we become holy. We remember both Hashem's creating the world and Hashem's taking us out of Mitzrayim. Being redeemed from Mitzrayim gave us the freedom to enter the dimension of Shabbat through our own efforts.

Conversely, suggests Rabbi Birnbaum zt”l in Bekorai Shemo, we should also infuse our Shabbat with the joy of anticipation and observance of its mitzvoth that we ascribe to the yomim tovim. That Shabbat comes every week should not diminish our exciting anticipation or our savoring of the special food, with the acknowledgment that it is all lichvod Shabbat, for the honor of Shabbat. Just as we create yom tov, we must also be responsible for creating Shabbat.

How many of us feel the joy of anticipation on erev Shabbat? Rabbi Boruch Leff suggests that the mitzvah of שמור can be translated not only as "keep/observe" the Shabbat Day, but also as "anticipate the Shabbat Day." Anticipate Shabbat all week by using it as a time reference, by doing some part of Shabbat preparation every day, by perhaps greeting other with, "A gutten erev Shabbos." Get into the peaceful and joyous mood before the onset of Shabbat, in anticipation of Shabbat. As Rabbi Schwadron zt”l says, treat every Shabbat with the same awe and uniqueness as we treat each yom tov that comes but once a year.

Rabbi Schwadron zt”l presents an analogy that is so accurate in its resemblance to our greeting the Shabbat. Imagine, he says, that you are fortunate enough to have been invited to meet the king. His entourage is ready to escort you so that you will arrive early and be able to enjoy the meeting without anxiety and tension. But you are in no rush, and you continue with your regular business. Time gets shorter, but you are still in no hurry. Finally, you look at the time, rush through a shower, and hurriedly get dressed, perhaps with your tie somewhat askew. Then you run to the car, get to the palace, run into the king completely out of breath. Yes, you are "on time," but are you greeting the king appropriately?

Upon reflection, is this not the way so many of us enter the spiritual palace of the King on Shabbat? Should we not prepare our Shabbat table early, be ourselves dressed and ready for Shabbat before the appointed time, so that we can calmly and with joy greet the Shabbat Queen?

We began our discussion with the verse that introduces Shabbat before speaking of the holidays, "For six days labor shall be done. and the seventh day is שבת שבתון/ a day of complete rest, מקרא קדש/ a holy convocation, you shall not do any work; it is a Shabbat for Hashem..." Neither the Vilna Gaon zt”l nor Vayovinu Bamikra see the verse as referring to a seven day week. The Vilna Gaon zt”l explains these six days that work can be done as the six days of Torah mandated yomim tovim, when certain work can be done, in contrast to the seventh day, Shabbat, when no work can be done. To take it a step further, the seventh day is Shabbat Shabbaton, Yom Kippur, which, in contrast to a regular Shabbat and all the holidays, no food [and certainly no food preparations] is permitted.

Vayovenu Bamikra offers a variation of this idea. According to his calculation of the yomim tovim, the seventh day is Shemini Atzeret, the special day of intimacy between Hashem and Bnei Yisroel, a day that builds on the inherent joy of Sukkot, Zman Simchateinu. The seven days of Sukkot are the compared to erev Shabbat. Shmini Atzeret is the ultimate day of simchah, and must remain so in spite of the traumatic events of this year when both Shemini Atzeret and Shabbat were the same day. We do not understand, but our relationship with Hakodosh Boruch Hu must remain intact.

The commitment and self sacrifice for Shabbat has the ability to break through all barriers. That commitment can override nature itself as we bear witness to Hashem's creating nature through our Shabbat observance. Rebbetzin Smiles related the story from R. Spero’s latest book, about a Holocaust couple, the wife having survived Dr. Mengele's experiments. When the only appointment to meet with the only doctor who could override her infertility was on Shabbat, after consulting with Rabbis, the woman canceled the appointment. After all, although there was a potential for life, there was no danger to life. The couple was resigned to remaining childless. But Hashem rewarded them for their commitment to Shabbat. The woman conceived and eventually bore two children.

The bond between Hashem and Bnei Yisroel is unbreakable. It is reinforced with our observance of every Shabbat and every yom tov. It is up to us to anticipate the joy of being together in sanctity with the Creator Who partners with us and allows us to create days of joyous celebration in His presence.