(Torah Portion Acharai Mos/Kedoshim) A Unique Partnership
The Talmud relates that there are three partners in the development of a human being; his mother, his father, and G-d.
Parents contribute the physical parts while G-d infuses life and the soul.
Ben Yehoyada brings a fascinating insight into the Hebrew word for a person – Adam. The three letters that form the word Adam are Alef, Daled and Mem.
Alef, which is the first letter of the alphabet, represents G-d – the One and Only.
The next letters Daled and Mem, form the word Dam – which means blood – the physical aspects of a human being.
Additionally, the Hebrew word for father is Av, with a numerical value of 3. The Hebrew word for mother is Aim, with a numerical value of 41. Together they equal forty-four which has the same numerical value as the word, Dam – blood.
Thus the construction of the word Adam encompasses the three partners, G-d, one’s father and one’s mother.
In this week’s Parsha, the Torah commands a person to revere his father and mother. The verse concludes, “And My Shabbos you shall observe, for I am Hashem your G-d.”
The famous commentator Rashi asks, “What is the connection between revering one’s parents and observance of the Shabbos?” Rashi quoting the Talmud explains that the two laws are connected, to teach us that if one’s father commanded him to desecrate Shabbos, making a conflict between heeding his father and desecrating Shabbos, the Torah commands, “I am Hashem your G-d,” My stake in the partnership of man supersedes the human partners; for they too are obligated to regard My word. You shall therefore observe the Shabbos paying no heed to their request.
The Sfas Emes wonders why the Torah specifically chose the law of Shabbos as the example of a law conflicting with one’s parent’s demand.
He explains that as we mentioned, there are three partners in the creation of a person. Although it is only through G-d’s benevolence that parents have the ability to create, G-d commanded that a child honor his parents, since they were intimately involved in his formation. However, since the soul and life of the child comes directly from G-d, His commandments supersede.
So too, the six days of creation appear to have come into existence through natural causes. However, at the onset of the holy day of Shabbos, G-d, through the Shabbos, infused the world with a soul (Vayinafash) and spirit that gave it vigor, power, and vitality to survive and endure forever.
Thus the weekly Shabbos and the formation of a child are similar because they both came into existence through physical means, and only afterwards were infused and charged with a spiritual soul.
The verse therefore emphasizes that just as one has to always be mindful and careful with his responsibilities towards the Neshama – soul – of the week which is the observance of the holy day of Shabbos, so too, one has to pay attention to his G-dly endowed soul that he carries with him at all times!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks