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Home » Beshalach, Economy

Beshalach: Shabbat

Submitted by on January 13, 2019 – 2:37 pmNo Comment | 110 views

When our ancestors traveled through the desert, they were nourished by Manna that fell miraculously from heaven every morning of the week with the exception of Shabbat. There was no Manna on Shabbat; instead two portions fell on Friday, one for Friday, the other for Shabbat.

Nevertheless, the Zohar, the seminal work of Jewish mysticism, teaches that G-d granted blessing for the week’s supply of Manna on Shabbat.[1] If Shabbat is a day of rest, a day for not receiving Manna, why did G-d bless the week’s supply of Manna on Shabbat?

The same question applies to us today. The six days of the week are work days, the Shabbat is a day of rest. On this day, we celebrate with G-d, our Creator, and are not immersed in the world, His Creation. Yet, the Zohar teaches that our success during the week derives from the blessing that we receive on Shabbat. How does that work, is Shabbat a day to break away from material blessings or is it a day that channels material blessings?

Body and Soul

Everything in life, from the human to the inanimate, has a body and a soul. Even ideas have bodies and souls. The letters, words, and sentences are the body, and the concept is the soul. When you speak, your oral words convey the body, your mind contributes the idea. Similarly, when G-d created the world, He created the bodies through speech, and the soul, the inner aspect of the thing, through thought.

Now, imagine yourself as a first-grade teacher trying to teach something complicated like what causes earthquakes. You set out blocks in the shape of tectonic plates and demonstrate what happens when pressure builds up between the plates. You explain it on a basic level because that is all the first graders can understand.

What is your mind thinking as you speak? If you are teaching the class for the first time, you probably need to restrict your thoughts to basic level on which you are teaching. But if you have taught this class many times, you might be able to teach the class on the basic level, while your mind simultaneously translates everything you are saying to your deeper more sophisticated understanding.

The same is true of Creation. G-d creates the material substance of our food with His words and the food’s nourishing capacity with His thoughts. However, G-d’s nourishing power need not be restricted to physical nourishment. It can also translate into spiritual nourishment. On Shabbat, G-d does what you might have done after having taught the class on earthquakes many times; He thinks on a higher, more abstract level. Thus, the nourishment that G-d creates on Shabbat is spiritual, rather than physical. After Shabbat, when the week begins, G-d translates the spiritual nourishment that He created on Shabbat, into physical nourishment, and He channels it into our food.

This means that G-d doesn’t create nourishment during the week. He creates the all our nourishment on Shabbat. During the week, He translates it into physical nourishment and channels it into our food.

This explains why no Manna fell on Shabbat although the blessing for the week’s supply of Manna occurred on Shabbat. On Shabbat, G-d provides nourishment, but not in the form of physical nourishment delivered through food. Only in the form of spiritual nourishment. Therefore, there was no physical Manna on Shabbat although the week’s supply of nourishment originated on Shabbat.

The same is true in our age. Our earnings during the week to come are determined on Shabbat, yet we don’t actually go out and earn on Shabbat. Shabbat is the day when G-d blesses us with the concept of earning a profit without determining the nature of the profit or the vehicle through which it will arrive.  Then during the week, this spiritual earning is translated into physical monetary profit.[2]

Day for the Soul

During the week, we pray to G-d for health, sustenance, and prosperity. On Shabbat, we refrain from such prayers. The great Jewish kabbalist, Rabbi Eliyahu de Vidas, explained that this is because Shabbat a day for the soul, not a day the body.[3]

We now understand the deeper meaning of this teaching. G-d provides for us on Shabbat. But the provisions come in spiritual form; providing for our soul rather than body. Spiritual nourishment comes in the form of insight, inspiration, enlightenment, etc. Therefore, on Shabbat we pray for all the above and more. But the spiritual sustenance of Shabbat, doesn’t translate into physical blessing until after Shabbat, we therefore wait until Shabbat ends to pray for physical blessing.

Once Shabbat is over, we don’t tarry. In the very first prayer after Shabbat, we pray for physical sustenance. Shabbat was a day for the spirit, and we enjoyed its spiritual blessings. But we are physical creatures and require physical sustenance. We therefore return to these prayers immediately after Shabbat.

Joy

Our sages provided one more reason to avoid such prayers on Shabbat. They taught that we should avoid prayers that might cause unhappiness and distress on a day intended to be restful and joyful.[4] By nature, we are drawn to focus on the negative. If something goes wrong in our lives, we tend to dwell on it. Shabbat day for rest and happiness. If we pray for sustenance and health on Shabbat, we might start dwelling on what we lack, which could cloud our mood on this day.

During the week, we are also meant to be joyful, but since we need to pray for these things, we do our best to pray and avoid falling into a funk. We work to focus on the positive, despite the negatives in our lives. On Shabbat, we don’t take chances, and we avoid any mention of what we lack. We focus only on the positive and hope that G-d will respond by ensuring that our lives will be completely positive.

[1] Zohar III 62b.

[2] Likutei Sichos, pp. 221-223.

[3] Shaar Hakedusha, chapter 14.

[4] Tanchumah, Vayera, Chapter 1.

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