Thursday, March 08, 2007

Parshas KiSissa 5767

Rabbi Label Lam

The Golden Thread of Our Existence

The Children of Israel shall observe the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos aneternal covenant for their generations. (Shemos 31:16)

What is meant by “for their generations”? Rebbi says, “All who keep theShabbos according to its specifications, the verse speaks about them as ifthey had kept every Shabbos from the time that HASHEM created His worlduntil the time of the revival of the dead!” (Mechilta)

It’s a gross understatement to say that Shabbos is an “important” day.What makes some days more important than others? There are certain daysfor which many other days are sacrificed. A short list would include, aBar Mitzvah, a wedding, Rosh HaShana.

When we examine a few of the examples mentioned above we discover thatthose single days for which so much has been invested are not single daysat all. They hold much more that meets the casual eye. A Bar Mitzvah boy-man is suiting himself up for manhood. He is effectively accepting uponhimself a lifetime of responsibility at those magic moments. Thefoundation for the building of his life is being poured. The steadinesshis entire structure rests upon the firmness of his commitment that day.So we dress it up and highlight its importance so it should not go byunderutilized. The same holds true of a wedding in a more obvious way.Similarly, the entire year and its events are scripted on Rosh HaShanamuch as DNA hold the code for all living organisms. These are not ordinarysingle days.

At a Bris in Jerusalem a guest Rabbi stood up to speak and wish well tothe grandfather of the new born on the occasion of his first grand-child, “Mazel Tov today you are a human being!” Everyone was stunned.

Maybe there is some hidden insult implied here. Until now he wasn’t human?Then he went on to explain that in the animal kingdom it is common to findcreatures that have an instinct to protect its young cub, kitten,fledgling you name it. However, only by humans does a grandparentdemonstrate love and care for his or her grandchild. This is symptomaticof real soulfulness to see one’s self in a grander historical or familialcontext and to care for the opinion of grandparents or grandchildren.

A great Rabbi, a well-known personality remarked almost sardonically thathis main goal at this later stage of his life was to impress hisgrandchildren. Then he added a caveat when the chuckle of laughterquieted, “I’m not kidding!” One grandmother commented with an uncommonfrankness about her feelings of extra love and adoration for her ShomerShabbos grandchildren over and above her other biologicalgrandchildren, “When I see these children I see the whole past and thewhole future! When I see those, I don’t see the past and I don’t see thefuture!”

To be Shomer Shabbos explains the Ohr HaChaim is to wait and anticipatewhen it will arrive, like one awaits an important guest. He learns thisfrom Yaakov who rebuked Yosef outwardly for revealing the dreams to hisbrothers but the verse records that he privately kept the matter, andRashi explains that he waited with great anticipation when it will berealized. From there we learn the definition of keeping the Shabbos! Welive for and work for, investing in Shabbos a whole week.

Shabbos, though, is not just a single day in the weekly cycle. Everythingis contained in that day, the entire past and the entire future. It can besaid that Shabbos is not less than the golden thread of our existence.