Our Darkness Is G-d’s Light

We end the evening with the Bracha of Hamapil. The last sentence is, “Blessed is G-d ……who lights the world with his honor.” A contradiction seems to present itself as we are entering a time of sleep and darkness, an occurrence the Talmud refers to as one-sixtieth death, yet we Bless the creator who lights up the world. It can be suggested that there is no darkness in G-d’s world, only “we” live in darkness due to our base human experience.

Drash – כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה

כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה – “all Jews (or all the people of Israel) are responsible for one another” (Shevuot 39a). (No coincidence that this is in the Tractate of the Talmud that discusses swearing as we have a standing “shevuah” to be responsible for our brethren.)

Based on drash, we can say:

כל ישראל ערב זה לזה – “All of Israel is a beckoning sunset (ערב)  for another,” as we can bring others to a new level of existence through our actions.


Redemption And Poverty

גָּאַל (redeem) equals in gematria דָּל (poor). This can allude to חמורו של משיח (the donkey of Moshiach), where the redeemer will enter Jerusalem as a pauper on a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9). This is because Moshiach will be a man of humility and self effacement that utilizes all physicality (חמור) towards serving the Creator. The times of Moshiach are described as days of oppressing inflation and many destitutes begging (Midrash Tehilim 45:3). To survive these times that are coming, we are told: “What is man to do to be spared the pangs of Moshiach? Let him engage in Torah and acts of loving-kindness!” (Sanhedrin 98b).



Rabbi Binyomin Adler – On Shabbos One Indulges In The Physical On A Higher Plane


At the end of last week’s parashah it is said (Devarim 7:11) vishamarta es hamitzvah vies hachukim vies hamishpatim asher anochi mitzvavcha hayom laasosam, you shall observe the commandment, and the decrees and the ordinances that I command you today, to perform them. Rashi writes that that the inference of the words hayom laasosam, today to perform them, is that today, i.e. in this world, one is obligated to perform the mitzvos, whereas the reward is only in the World to Come. The Baal HaTurim in this week’s parashah, Eikev, notes the juxtaposition of the words hayom laasosam to the words vehayah eikev tishmiun, this shall be the reward when you hearken… This teaches us that the reward for the mitzvos that we perform is eikev, loosely translated as the end, i.e. in the World to Come. The Gemara (Brachos 57b) states that Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. One must wonder that if Shabbos is truly a semblance of the World to Come, then why is it that all of our actions on Shabbos revolve around the physical, such as eating and drinking, and according to some, sleeping? Is not the World to Come a place where there is no physical indulgence, as the Gemara (Ibid 17a) states: in the World to Come there is no eating and no drinking? Rather, the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and delight in the radiance of the Divine Presence. This being the case, it would seem that there is no need to indulge in physical pleasures on Shabbos, as one should seek to maximize this ether-worldly experience.

Walking on Shabbos is Different Than the Week

Perhaps the resolution of this enigma can be found in the word eikev. Rashi quotes the Sifri that states that the word eikev means heel, and thus the verse can be interpreted as follows: vehayah eikev tishmiun, if you perform the mitzvos that are normally trampled on by ones eikev, heel, then you will receive all the blessings that I have promised to your forefathers. There are various opinions regarding the nature of these mitzvos that one tramples with his heel. Some opinions maintain that the mitzvos referred to here are the mitzvos that one literally performs with his feet, such as plowing and threshing and other mitzvos which relate to tilling the land. Other opinions maintain that Rashi is referring to mitzvos that people may consider routine, such as reciting blessings and donning tzitzis and Tefillin. I would like to suggest in the context of these verses that the Torah is alluding to Shabbos, as regarding Shabbos it is said (Yeshaya 58:13) im tashiv miShabbos raglecho, if you restrain your foot because it is the Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 113a) derives from this verse that one should not walk on Shabbos in the same manner as he walks during the week. Furthermore, the commentators write that the word regel, literally defined as leg, can also allude to hergel, that which one is accustomed to. On Shabbos one is supposed to indulge in physical actions, albeit in a different manner than during the week.

The Shabbos Connection

This can be the explanation of the statement that Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. On Shabbos one may eat, drink and sleep, but by declaring that his actions are lekavod Shabbos Kodesh, for the sake of the Holy Shabbos, he has deviated from his normal routine, and thus he is akin to one who resides in the World to Come. The reason for this is because essentially, the World to Come is a reflection of how one elevated the physical in this world to a spiritual plane. When one acts in a different manner on Shabbos than during the week, he is elevating the physical to the realm of the spiritual, and this is akin to the World to Come. May we all merit the day that will be completely Shabbos and rest day for eternal life.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Dror Yikra

The composer was Dunash ben Librat, the famed medieval grammarian and paytan who lived from 4680-4750 (920990 C.E.). He was born in Baghdad and, except for twenty years in Fez, lived there his entire life. He was a nephew and disciple of Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon and was acquainted with many of the Sages of his time. Rashi and Ibn Ezra quote him extensively. His name appears four times as the acrostic of the stiches in stanzas 1,2,3, and 6. This zemer is a prayer to HaShem to protect the Jewish People, destroy its tormentors, and bring the Nation peace and redemption.

נְטַע שׂוֹרֵק בְּתוֹךְ כַּרְמִי. שְׁעֵה שַׁוְעַת בְּנֵי עַמִּי, plant a branch within my vineyard, turn to the outcry of my people! What is the association between planting a branch in a vineyard and listening to the plea of the Jewish People? I believe I found the answer to this question while reading the Book INCREDIBLE! By Rabbi Nachman Seltzer. The narrative is about the life of the CEO of Arachim, Rabbi Yossi Wallis, and the INCREDIBLE events in his forebear’s history. I strongly recommend that you read the book, and you will see how powerful it is for a Jew to “plant a branch” in the vineyard of Judaism, i.e. to adhere to the Torah’s principles and to faith in HaShem, so that one’s progeny will flourish. When one plants that branch in the vineyard, one can then expect HaShem to listen to the outcry of His people.

Shabbos Stories

Fish for Shabbos

It was Sivan of 5567/1807, and thousands of joyous Chasidim were anticipating the wedding that would unite two illustrious dynasties. The chassan, Reb Yekusiel Zalman, was the son of Reb Yosef Bunim Wallis, who was the son-in-law of the great Jewish defender, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Reb Yekusiel was soon to be wed to Baila, who was the daughter of Reb Dov Ber, later known as the Mittler Rebbe, who was the son of the Baal HaTanya, Reb Schneur Zalman of Liadi. The town of Zhlobin was chosen as the setting for the wedding, as many of the Baal HaTanya’s Chasidim resided in Zhlobin, which was also equidistant from the towns of Berditchev and Liadi. The Chupah was going to take place on Friday afternoon, as was the custom in those times, and the festive meal would follow on Friday night. On the morning of the wedding day, the Rebbetzen of the Baal HaTanya had a complaint. While the Rebbetzen was willing to prepare the entire Friday night meal, as the custom was that the meal would be prepared by the kallah’s side, there was one slight problem. There was no fish available, and what would a Shabbos wedding meal be without fish? Furthermore, the Rebbetzen had heard that Reb Levi Yitzchak had a custom to always eat fish at a Seudas mitzvah, a festive meal, and if there was no fish, he would recite Kiddush and HaMotzi and not partake in the remainder of the meal. This would surely be unfitting for such a joyous occasion. When Reb Schneur Zalman heard of the dilemma, he declared that Reb Levi Yitzchak himself should be consulted. When Reb Levi Yitzchak heard about the problem, he asked in wonder, “Could it be that there will not be fish for Shabbos? Are there no rivers in this town?” The messenger of the Rebbetzen responded, “the Dnieper River flows nearby, but the river does not have fish.” The Heilegeh Berditchever summoned a horse and buggy and he then sent a message inviting his mechutan, The Baal HaTanya, to join him at the banks of the river. When they arrived at the river, Reb Levi Yitzchak removed a handkerchief and waved it over the river, all the while murmuring verses from the zemer Azamer b’Shvuchin, the famous zemer of the Arizal that is sung Friday night. Reb Levi Yitzchak then called out the words “vinunin urachashin,” which is Aramaic for fish and meat. Suddenly, schools of fish cane swimming towards them from all directions. People ran to get their nets, and soon their buckets were filled with fish, in honor of the Holy Shabbos.

Shabbos in Halacha

קושר ומתיר, – Tying and Untying Knots

Tying and untying knots are forbidden under the Avos Melachos of קושר, tying, and מתיר, untying. The halachos of tying and untying involve many details, including what is deemed a knot and differences between permanent and temporary knots. Such a discussion is beyond the scope of this work; we will merely point out several common applications of these prohibitions in the modern kitchen.

Untying Knots

One is prohibited to untie a plastic bag that has been tied with one of the forbidden knots mentioned above. Rather, to remove the contents of such a bag, one must tear open the bag. (One must avoid tearing any letters or pictures that are printed on the bag).

One may not untie a string that is tied around a parcel. One should, if possible, slide the string off the parcel without tearing it. If this cannot be done, one may tear the string or cut the string in a destructive manner.

Yacov Nordlict – Heels Of Moshiach

This week’s parsha begins with the words “V’haya eikev tishme’oon”, “And it will be because of your listening…” Rashi explains these words on a more esoteric level. If a person listens and performs the small mitzvos which people normally trample with their feet (their “eikev”), it will translate into the brachos of the following pesukim.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky (as well as many of the Chassidic Rebbes of the past generations such as the Ruzhiner Rebbe and the Slonimer Rebbe) points out that this pasuk isn’t just revealing how to attain bracha from Hashem, rather the pasukim are also an allusion to our avodah to bring moshiach. The word “eikev” alludes to our generation, the ikvesa d’mshicha. The pasuk is teaching us that if we want to bring moshiach, our avodah is to be meticulous in all the small mitzvos.

This needs an explanation. What is it specifically about performing small mitzvos that will be the catalyst for the coming of moshiach? Why does a small miztva make a more significant impact than that of a big mitzva?

In order to realize the purpose of our generation, we need to comprehend our greatest fault. The Gra in “Ev’en Sh’leima” says that a person’s sole purpose in creation is to fix himself. Just as this exists on an individual level, it also applies in a more general sense. Every generation of klal Yisrael exists only to fix a certain fault, yet in order to know what to fix, we need to know what it is that needs fixing.

As we know, our generation is called the “Ikvisa d’misheecha”, the heel of moshiach. This isn’t telling merely us that we happen to be on the “heels” of Moshiach, that Moshiach is at our doorstep. It’s a description of our generation. Our essence is likened to that of a heel. Just like a heel is dead skin and has very little feeling, so too our generation lacks feeling. People walk around every day without any sense of love or fear of HaShem. We’ve become the numb generation.

With this yesod, the answer to our original question is quite simple. To help bring out the idea, I remember when my wife and I first got married. Everything was so new and exciting. But I remember the thing which flattered my wife the most wasn’t the big things. It wasn’t running back and forth to the store because she couldn’t decide what she wanted. It was remembering the little details. If she would ask me what I thought she would wear, I would say “how about the black dress you wore on our fourth date?” or something of the sort. It was never the big things. It was always the little details which showed I really cared.

Logically, it should be the opposite. The greatest gage of love is when one is willing to go the extra few miles for the loved one, to sacrifice ourselves for someone else. But if we think a little deeper about it, we find that it’s not true. Remembering big things show that you’re conscious; remembering all the little details show that you care.

Our greatest fault is that we exist as an Eikev, as a heel. We just don’t feel like we should. This is the problem we have to fix. And the only way to start feeling is to start caring about the small stuff.

I think this is the allusion of the pasuk of “V’haya Eikev tishme’oon.” As Chazal pointed out, the pasuk alludes to moshiach. And as Rashi stated, the verse is talking about the small mitzvas which people trample with their feet. Why? Because if you want to be able to feel Hashem’s light in all the darkest places, you have to really care about the small things. That’s the lesson from the pasuk. It isn’t so much a warning for that generation, but it’s a counsel for even the lowliest of generations. If we want to feel His presence, we need to care about everything.

The Rema begins the Shulchan Aruch with “Shvisi Hashem L’negdi Tamid”. That is, to first and foremost put Hashem in front of us always. And the only way to do this is by learning to feel. By counteracting the yesod of the heel, and in this way we can each do our part to bring the Moshiach.