Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shabbos All Week

“And Yitzchak brought her into the tent of Sara his mother.”

Bereshis 24:67




“In the tent of Sara, there was a candle that always burnt – from one erev Shabbos, until the next, when Rivka entered that tent, this blessing returned.”[1] When Yitzchak saw this, he was then prepared to marry Rivka.[2] What was this candle all about? Why did it remain lit, and why did it matter?


In a letter to R. Yissachar Tietchell[3], R. Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld wrote that this candle was the Shabbos candle, and it remained lit all week for in Sara’s tent, Shabbos was felt all week. It is customary for women to refrain from drinking the Havdalah wine at the conclusion of Shabbos. R. Sonnenfeld explains that this is due to the power that women have to extend that Shabbos into the weekday, and therefore, they ought to have a little less to do with the Havdalah, for Havdalah emphasizes the separation of Shabbos and weekday! We must discover - what is the nature of this power, and what does it mean that women posses it?


Shammai would live the entire week preparing for the Shabbos, for when he found a nice piece animal, he would purchase it and save it for the Shabbos. He inevitably found a nicer animal, and purchased that one too, and then took the first one and ate it during the week. He would eat the first one, so that the nicer one would be for Shabbos. Thus all of his food during the week was really part of his preparation for the Shabbos.[4] Because Shammai spent his money on the first animal in order to have it for Shabbos, the fact that in the end he would enjoy it during the week did not make it any less for the honor of Shabbos! Shabbos spilt over and colored his entire week.


When we make Kiddush on Friday night, we begin it with the words, “Yom Hashishi, the sixth day.” This is odd, for it is a fragment of a full sentence. In fact, we are meant to begin quietly with the words “Vayihi Erev, Vayihi boker,” “and it was evening and it was morning,” and the we recite “yom Hashishi aloud.” There is a Midrash[5] which tells us that “Yom Hashishi Vayehchulu Hashomayim,” is the source for “tosefes Shabbos.” Tosefes Shabbos is the obligation that we have to add a bit onto the Shabbos of the weekday, and to treat that time as thought it is Shabbos as well. The first letters of each word of “Yom Hashishi Vayehchulu Hashomayim,” are Yod – Hey – Vav - Hey, which spell out the name of Hashem. When we add on the last two words in the Torah about Friday to the first two words of Shabbos, we discover Hashem’s name. Therefore we recite those two words aloud, before reading about the Shabbos at Kiddush. Holiness truly comes when we can attach the secular to the holy, and bring the holy into our mundane lives. It is not enough to live spiritual lives in the synagogue. We must live those principles of Shabbos and spirituality in our ordinary worldly lives. We can learn out to add from the Shabbos to our week when we notice that the name of Hashem appears when we attach those parts of the Torah. So on Friday nights, we emphasize that message by loudly intoning only the fragment of the sentence that will spell out the name of Hashem.[6]


The woman has this special ability to infuse the divine into the worldly aspects of the family life. This world was created with the letter “Hey” while the next was created with the letter “Yod.” There are both letters of Hashem’s name. We are told that man has the letter “Yod” is his name “Ish,” and the woman has the letter “Hey,” in “Isha.” When man and woman come together properly in marriage, the letters join and the bring the divine presence into their home. The man is connected to the letter that created the world to come. His pursuits are related more directly to the spiritual while the woman’s are related to the more secular. But that is all somewhat superficial. It is the job of a woman to elevate the physical elements of life and to help turn them into spiritual things. Based upon the Drashos Haran[7], Rav Yonason David Shlita[8] compares the man/woman relationship to that of the Sanhedrin and King. The Sanhedrin was responsible making scholarly spiritual decisions. Man is charged with learning that Torah, and has more mitzvos to keep. The King carried a Torah around with him at all times.[9] It was his responsibility to build roads, and wage wars. There is no direct reference in to Torah about each road, or decision the King would have to make. It was his job to have imbibed the spirit of the Torah so completely that he would be capable of making those decisions. The Sanhedrin had a very black and white code to consult. The King dealt in all of the gray areas. Man is charged with being the Sanhedrin of his family, and giving the family the benefit of his spiritual achievement. The woman is charged with offering the family the benefit of her ability to engage in the more earthly pursuits, and elevate those to the highest of planes.


Shabbos is holy, but the weekdays are secular. A woman’s job is to take this world  that was created with the letter “Hey,[10]” – her letter[11] - and connect it to the Shabbos, to the spiritual and eternal.[12] [This gives us some incredible insight into the power of the male/female relationship on the Shabbos!] It is thus not suggested for her to drink the wine from the Havdalah, after she never really needs to separate from the Shabbos. Sara’s tent was never missing the Shabbos, but when she died, Avraham and Yitzchak were left without that Shabbos light of Sara’s that managed to burn the entire week. It was only when Yitzchak saw that Rivka could bring that light back into the weekday, that he knew that this was the woman who was to be the mother to all Jews, and who would implant in her daughters and granddaughters that ability to extend the light of Shabbos, from one week to the next.


[1] Rashi Bereshis 24:67 quoting Bereshis Rabbah 60:15, mentions that the dough was blessed, and a cloud hovered above. The Zohar mentions only that the candle remained lit, and we will focus just on that.

[2] Chiddushei HaGriz 24:67

[3] Published in the preface to his work Mishneh Sachir

[4] Beitzah 16a

[5] Bereshis Rabbah 9:14 according to Biur Hagra O.C. 271:10

[6] Rema O.C. 271:10

[7] Beginning of Drush 11

[8] Devek Tov Bayis 6 (a pamphlet of the Torah of R. Yonason David Shlita distributed at the wedding of a daughter of R. Chaim Yitzchak Kaplan Shlita.) See also Pachad Yitzchak - Shavuos 36, and Reshimos Lev Chanukah p. 215.

[9]D’varim 17:19, Sanhedrin 21b

[10] Menachos 29b

[11] Sotah 17a, see Rashi ad loc.

[12] The Sfas Emes (to Vayechi, 5634 s.v MeAsher, and 5653 s.v. BiInyan) sees this idea (of connecting the weekdays to the Shabbos) as what is behind the two loaves of Challah on Shabbos, the Lechem Mishna – one corresponds to the weekdays and one to Shabbos. He bases this upon a cryptic passage in the Zohar. He then extends this to explain the relationship of Yissachar and Zevulun, Yissachar being Shabbos and Zevulun the weekdays.