(Torah Portion Yisro) Inspired From Above!
In this week’s Parsha the Torah relates how Yisro, Moshe’s father in law, traveled from his homeland in Midyan to embrace the Torah mandate and join the Jewish people. Moshe’s wife Tzipora and their sons Gershom and Eliezer accompanied him and were rejoined with Moshe.
Moshe began relating to Yisro all the wonders, miracles and events that G-d performed for the Jewish people. One of the great miracles that happened to the Jews was that they were simultaneously and instantaneously freed from Egypt.
In fact, before G-d revealed Himself at Mount Sinai to proclaim the Ten commandments, He recalled and stated, “You all saw what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you upon the wings of eagles, and let you off over 100 miles away as quickly as the blink of a eye.”
Rabbi Yosef Shaul Natenson o.b.m. explains that the wings of eagles is an expression of the unique relationship that G-d has with the Jewish people. “Just as an eagle first lifts off the ground and then its fledglings jump up on its wings ascending to great heights, so too, when G-d wanted to carry the Jewish people and exhibit great mercy and kindnesses for them, it only happened after the Jews made a move towards spiritually, and so to speak, jumped on to G-d’s wings to attain His benevolence and redemption.
In Kabalistic terms, “We need to generate our own spiritual uplift and awakening in order to be the beneficiaries of G-d’s salvation from Above.”
Before the Jews left Egypt, they had to participate in the Mitzvos of Bris / Circumcision and the Pascal Lamb in order to be the spiritual motivating force for them to ‘Jump on to G-d’s miraculous aero fleet – the wings of eagles.’
This same concept applies to us, “Through uplifting and connecting ourselves through prayer, good deeds, Mitzvos and study of Torah, we merit becoming recipients of G-d’s generosity, mercy and care which comes from above.
The word that the Torah uses to describe G-d uplifting us is, Esah. It is interesting that in the Book of Psalms, King David expresses the notion of prayer through the word Esah – “I lift my eyes to mountains,” and, “In Your Name I will lift my Hands.” Through prayer we buoy ourselves upward right into in the loving trust and care of the Almighty.
However, there is one Mitzvah that we are spiritually stirred and motivated through the initiation coming from Above – where Hashem directly bestows holiness upon us.
This special Mitzvah appears in this week’s Parsha and is the fourth of the Ten Commandments – to observe and remember the holy day of Shabbos.
As the holy day of Shabbos descends Friday evening there is an intrinsic holiness that envelops each of us. This holiness transforms us personally, with each Jew being endowed with a ‘Neshama Yesarah – an extra soul.” This expansive soul affords us the ability to enjoy and appreciate the delicacies and restful spirit of Shabbos on a higher level than one can experience during a regular weekday.
Yes, there is much preparation done in advance of Shabbos. There is shopping, cooking, baking grooming oneself and, of course lighting of the Shabbos candles, Kiddush, prayers, etc. and by doing so we are in a sense personally ascending by ‘Jumping on to G-d’s awaiting wings.’ However, the dose of sanctification that stimulates us and draws us close to engage in the preparation of Shabbos and its observance – comes directly from Above and continues throughout Shabbos.
Rabbi Gedalya Schorr o.b.m. would frequently quote a fascinating Sfas Emes which captures the essence of the holy environment of Shabbos. The Talmud teaches us that when G-d informed Moshe about the laws of Shabbos – two week’s before G-d’s Revelation at Mount Sinai – G-d told him as follows: “I have a special gift for the Jewish people that is in My Treasure Reserves – its name is Shabbos – go and tell the nation about it.”
The Sfas Emes points out, “Never do we see that G-d actually took Shabbos out of His holy Treasury, all He told Moshe – go tell them about it.”
“From here we see that when one recognizes, identifies and embraces the holiness of Shabbos in the proper fashion, he becomes enveloped and encased in the realm of a Heavenly atmosphere here on earth!”
The serenity of Shabbos is indeed referred to as a touch of the World to Come!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks