Keep Cool

(Torah Portion Vayakail) Keep Cool!

The Shabbos is a Jew’s day of rest. The Torah does not define ‘rest’ explicitly; rather it is derived from the creative activities necessary to construct the Tabernacle in the desert. Since the Torah forbade the construction of the Temple and its vessels to be performed on the Shabbos, it is thus inferred, that the Torah forbids us to engage in those same constructive activities during our weekly Shabbos.

Abiding by these rules creates a cooperative atmosphere of rest, tranquility and holiness for Jews during the day of Shabbos.

There is one rule of Shabbos the Torah does mention specifically in this week’s Parsha, “Do not kindle a flame in all of your dwelling places on the day of Shabbos.”

Aside from the actual application of the prohibition of kindling a fire on Shabbos, the Zohar, our Kabballa, expands this to include that one should not kindle the ‘fire’ of anger or rage during the holy day of Shabbos.

A seemingly obvious question raised is why is Shabbos highlighted as a day when the fire and destructive forces of anger and rage should not to be engaged; isn’t such conduct forbidden anytime during the week?

Perhaps the message the Zohar is teaching us is that, of course there is never a place for anger and rage, for its destructive force causes alienation, pain, hurt and lots of anguish. However, Shabbos is highlighted regarding refraining from anger because the practical and philosophical reasons for the observances of Shabbos are similar to the reasons one should suppress feelings of anger.

The reason G-d commanded us to observe the Shabbos by refraining from creative activities is to inculcate within us and our conduct the concept that we are not in control over all we do, produce and create.

G-d created the Heavens and earth and everything within them in six days and on the Seventh day He stopped, and the Jews were chosen to emulate G-d’s format when they should create and when they should stop. Throughout the six weekdays we do our best to generate and construct, and during this time we can get caught up feeling that we are in charge and our success is due to our efforts, acumen, skill and intelligence.

Then comes along the blessed day of Shabbos, where G-d instructs us to back off from that which is classified as creative, so that we recognize and instill within ourselves and family the belief that all that has happened and we benefited from is from G-d. Shabbos sets us straight and facilitates a special spiritual perspective and focus so that we zoom in and realize that what occurred in the past week and what will ensue during the coming week is all directed by G-d.

When we contemplate on what leads one to become angry and what stirs up one’s temper, we realize that it is when one feels in control and then sees that things aren’t going his way. Anger and fury is how we try to forcefully take control of a situation or argument, and sadly… often, for no reason at all.

Therefore, during the week when we are in the creative and ownership mode, we may be swept away by the feelings of control and may be vulnerable to expressing anger, since the environment is not conducive for us to take control over those feelings. One’s only restraint comes from the wellsprings of morals, values and ethical teaching that are within him.

However, on Shabbos the atmosphere is spiritually charged to relinquish control over one’s holdings, job, projects and that which is creative; thus, the tone of the day positively influences one to surrender to the temptation of expressing control through anger, whether through coarse reactions or verbal attacks.

Thus, the Zohar is teaching us that refraining from anger on Shabbos is specifically highlighted, for if we express or pronounce anger on Shabbos it is in direct conflict with the message and spirit of the holy day whose embodiment is that G-d is in control of all happenings.

This provides a view of some of the beauty, blessings and tranquil benefits that the Shabbos affords and provides for us and our families!

Have a most enjoyable, restful and peaceful Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks