Parshas Ki Sisa: The Aura of Shabbos

In this week’s parsha, Parshas Ki Sisa, the Bnei Yisrael are commanded regarding Shabbos (Shemos 31:12-15).  After commanding us regarding Shabbos, the Torah records:

וְשָׁמְר֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֑ת לַעֲשׂ֧וֹת אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֛ת לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם בְּרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם

בֵּינִ֗י וּבֵין֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל א֥וֹת הִ֖וא לְעֹלָ֑ם כִּי־שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים עָשָׂ֤ה הֹאֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י שָׁבַ֖ת וַיִּנָּפַֽשׁ

And the Children of Israel guarded the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant;

Between Me and the Children of Israel, it is forever a sign that in six days Hashem created the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day He ceased and rested (Shemos 31:16-17).

On the above verse (31:16), it is of significance to note that the word “לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם, for their generations,” is written ‘chaser’, meaning without any ‘vav’s’ (which would have made it written maleh, לדורותם).  As each and every letter in the Torah is calculated and with intent, what is the lesson in the ‘missing’ vav’s?  

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Bregman writes, “Yalkut Reuveni points out that the word לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם is written here without the one or two vav’s that we would usually expect to find in the spelling of the word.  Why is this so?  He answers that this is to enable the word to also be read as ‘l’dirasam,’ which means ‘throughout their diros,’ i.e.: in all their homes and dwelling places.  

“When this alternative rending is plugged into the verse, it provides us with a powerful reminder as to how a Jew is supposed to prepare his home for the Shabbos.  Each and every Jew has an eternal covenant, a בְּרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם, with the Shabbos that not only requires that we refrain from forbidden labor, but that our homes – our דירות (diros), our dwelling places – be ready for Shabbos in a timely fashion and with the proper atmosphere in the home” (Short and Sweet on the Parsha, Feldheim, p.271-218).  

When we welcome the Shabbos Queen – Shabbos ha’Malka – to our homes, it must be with diligent preparation, an aura of holiness and calm, and an excitement for the special kedusha of Shabbos that graces our homes, our personal diros, where the Shechina (Divine Presence) desires to dwell.  

In regard to the command to construct the Mishkan, which continues in our Parsha, there are multiple times when the Torah associates the topic of Shabbos with Mishkan (such as in Ki Sisa, and Parshas Vayakhel, Ex.35:1-3).  Why are the topics of Shabbos and Mishkan intertwined?  

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt’l, the Rav, teaches, “The Beis HaLevi explains that there are basic necessities to maintain physical life, and there are luxuries which are greatly enjoyed but do not constitute necessities.  In our spiritual lives, too, there are mitzvos which are basic to our existence as Jews, and there are other mitzvos which, although beautiful, we can survive without as a people if necessary.

Knesses Yisrael have survived for 1,900 years without a Temple, sometimes very well.  Without the Beis Ha’Mikdash (BHM”K) we produced Tanaim, the Mishnah was written, the Gemara followed.  Without the BHM”K we had the Geonic period, Rishonim, Mekubalim, Chassidic leaders.  Of course, Jews pined for the rebuilding of the Temple.  Obviously, the presence of prophets and a BHM”K widens one’s religious horizons.  Yet we can survive without these.  On the other hand, a Klal Yisrael without Shabbos cannot exist.  Shabbos to the soul is like water and bread to the body” (Chumash Masores ha’Rav Shemos, p.320-321).

For six days we work, and on the seventh day we cease.  This cessation of work is a testimony to the Creator, Who fashioned the world in six days, and on the seventh day, keviyachol (as if it were possible) He rested.  Hence, בֵּינִ֗י וּבֵין֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל א֥וֹת הִ֖וא לְעֹלָ֑ם, Shabbos is a sign between us and G-d forever.  It is a sign over our homes and dwelling places that Hashem is the Creator, Sustainer, and Provider for us all.  

Furthermore, Shabbos is referred to as “me’ein Olam Ha’bah, a holiness of the World to Come”, when all of our earthly concerns and worries are put aside.  Rabbi Dr. Twerski zt’l writes, “The earthly world is where we work to earn the merits of Gan Eden, to be in the immanent presence of G-d and to delight in the radiance of His glory.  Once our earthly stay is over, there is nothing more to be done.  That should be the Gan Eden of Shabbos, to delight in the radiance of Torah, in our prayers and in Torah study.  There is nothing to distract us from this delight, because there is nothing more we must do.

“On Friday night, my mother would serve farfel tzimmis.  She would refer to this as ‘the Baal Shem Tov’s tzimmis,’ using the symbolism of the world farfel for its similarity to the Yiddish word ‘farfallen,’ which means ‘over and done with.’  As she served the farfel tzimmis, she would say, ‘Whatever happened until now is farfallen.’  In other words, we were not to bring any of the past into Shabbos.  Everything in the past is over and done with.  On Shabbos, we live in a state of completion, with nothing on our minds to distract us from bonding with G-d through Torah and prayer.  וְשָׁמְר֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֑ת – this is what we do to make Shabbos holy” (Twerski on Chumash, p.176).  

May we merit to keep Shabbos each week with the sanctity she deserves, until the End of Days, when we will be blessed with the Everlasting Day that is יום שכלו שבת ומנוחה לחיי עולמים.  May it be immediate and in our days.  

בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,


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