(Torah Portion Ki Sisa) Radiant Faces!/18 Cycle Milestone
Referring to the holy day of Shabbos, the Torah writes, “Between Me and the children of Israel it is a sign forever.” How deep does this bond go? A good barometer of this deep connection is measured during times of great challenge.
I recall reading an eyewitness account of Jews who were pressed together, depressed and in stifling conditions in a Nazi transport. As Friday afternoon wore on, an old and frail Jewish woman, with great effort, managed to open her bundle, and remove the only things she thought worthwhile taking with her; two candlesticks and two Challahs that she had baked for Shabbos before she was dragged from her home that morning.
Soon, the Shabbos candles lit up the faces of the tortured Jews; and the song of Lecha Dodi, welcoming the Shabbos, transformed the scene. Shabbos, with its atmosphere of peace and holiness, descended upon them. The Shabbos expresses the innermost longing of the Jewish soul, and each of its many facets reflects something of the Divine radiance. This unique feeling towards the holiness of the Shabbos, can only be felt and experienced by a Jew.
The Talmud relates that what one spends on the honor and delight of Shabbos does not diminish or reduce from the resources that G-d allocated to him on Rosh Hashana for that year! The Talmud further states that wealth attained by those living outside of the Land of Israel is due to the merit of the honor they give to the Shabbos and Holidays.
We prepare for the enjoyment of the Shabbos meals, delicious delicacies befitting the Shabbos Queen. The Halacha also indicates that one should bathe and don special garments in honor of the Shabbos, similar to the respectful attire that one wears in the presence of a king.
In the Megilla of Esther it describes how Esther risked her life on behalf of her people when she presented herself before the king without being summoned. The Megilla states that for this encounter, Esther donned royalty. Our Sages tell us that not only did she dress regally; she was adorned with a holy spirit of G-d.
Although Esther was a prophetess, our Sages tell us that the source of this special spirit of G-d was because Esther presented herself to King Achashvairosh on the first day of Passover. Esther and the Jews prayed and fasted during Pesach, not even partaking in the Seder that year because of the threat to their lives, yet the holiness of the day of Pesach gave her this special aura of holiness.
Our Sages teach us that through our identification with the holiness of Shabbos, G-d blesses and sanctifies each of us with a radiance that emanates from our faces on Shabbos!
In this week’s Parsha, the Torah relates the terrible tragedy where some Jews worshipped the golden calf. As a result of this sin, the Jews had to forfeit their special spiritual crowns that they received during G-d’s Revelation at Mount Sinai.
Although there is no replacement for those highly charged spiritual crowns, through one’s study of Torah and observing the Mitzvos, one can restore some impression of that aura. Shabbat is the time where it is most evident!
With this edition of the Shabbat Message we complete 18 cycles of Torah portions (1995-2013). My hope and prayer is that through the words and inspiration of the Shabbat Message – your lives will be enhanced with spirituality, holiness, and blessing and increase your appreciation of our sacred Torah. Currently, there are over 4000 e-mail recipients and on our website www.jewishheritageconnection.org there is an archive of almost all of the 950 past messages!
It is with a special feeling of gratitude that this milestone coincides with the Shabbat Aufruf of our son dear Tzvi, who G-d willing will be married this week to his wonderful Kalah, Tova Feiner! I want to thank my wife Malky and our children for being supportive and such an integral part of this endeavor.
A special thank you to Rabbi Shmuel Flam and Mrs. Madeleine Jacobs for graciously giving of their time and expertise to review the message each week.
I thank the loyal readership, for giving me an incentive to expand my knowledge of the holy and endless Torah so that I can share its wisdom and beauty with you. Thank you for all your questions, comments and support.
Thank you Hashem for everything!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks