Wednesday, March 10, 2010

218 - Vayakhel / Pikudei

Although both of this week's parshios deal entirely with the Mishkan and its vessels, the Torah prefaces the parshios with Moshe cautioning Bnei Yisroel to guard the Shabbos. Rashi explains that albeit that they were building a Mishkan for Hashem's Shechina, they must take care not to desecrate the Shabbos. Rav Wolbe (Alei Shur vol. II pg.382) enlightens us regarding the uniqueness of this spiritual day.

Shabbos differs from all other mitzvos because it is not merely a commandment, but also a gift. As Chazal (Shabbos 10b) tell us, "Hashem said to Moshe, 'I have a wonderful gift in My treasury called Shabbos; go tell Bnei Yisroel that I wish to give it to them.'" Likewise we find that the bracha recited during Kiddush differs from the brachos recited when performing other mitzvos. Generally we say, "Blessed are You Hashem, Who sanctified us with His mitzvos and commanded us," while on Shabbos we say, "Who sanctified us with His mitzvos and desired us, and His holy Shabbos with love and graciousness He gave us as an inheritance." Shabbos is a state of holiness, and it was given to us not merely as a commandment but as an inheritance.

Rav Wolbe writes that there were people who had the ability to sense when Shabbos began without having to look at the clock. Throughout the week the Alter of Kelm's face was white as a sheet, and on Shabbos his cheeks took on a reddish hue. Similarly, Rav Yeruchom Levovitz's appearance changed on Shabbos to the degree that a student who saw him for the first time earlier in the week and then again on Shabbos, thought that a new Mashgiach had come to the Yeshiva. "Hashem blessed the seventh day and sanctified it" (Bereishis 2, 3) and He turned it into an entity of holiness that can be felt and experienced.

Furthermore, by resting on Shabbos we bear witness to the fact that Hashem created the world. The Torah writes, "For in six days Hashem made the heavens and earth, and He rested on the seventh day" (Shemos 20, 11). The Ramban (on this pasuk) explains that through the Shabbos we remember creation and thereby acknowledge that there is a Creator. Additionally, Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch writes that the reason for the 39 forbidden melochos on Shabbos is to demonstrate that Hashem, Who created the world, is the sole Master, and on this day man has no permission to perform any action that is a form of creation.

Shabbos is a perceptible kedusha; a guest that we can welcome, as we say in Lecha Dodi, "Come O bride, come O bride the Shabbos queen." Let us take a few minutes on Shabbos to think about this wonderful G-d given present. It is a day that reminds us of creation, The Creator, and the fact that it is He Who is the sole Master of the world in its entirety. These thoughts might enable us to feel, to some degree, the uniqueness of this wonderful day that arrives each and every week.

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