Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Chayai Sarah) Hot or Cold

This week’s Haftorah relates that King David was old and his body could not get warm no matter how many layers of clothing he covered himself with. Why was King David subject to such an ailment? King David had many challenges in his lifetime. One of them was that his father-in-law, King Saul, pursued him.

Once, while King David was hiding in the deep recesses of a cave, King Saul entered and chose not to look deeper into the cave. While King Saul was distracted, King David quietly approached him and instead of killing him, which he was allowed to do since his life was in jeopardy, he cut off a corner of his garment. He did this so that King Saul would realize that David did not kill him although he had the opportunity to do so.

Our Sages tell us, because King David cut Saul’s garment and thereby showed disregard for garments, his punishment was that in his old age, garments would not warm him.

This is astounding. Although clothing which by its very nature warms a person, since it was demeaned it lost its power to warm the person who disgraced it.

The Talmud tells us that one may not murk the water that provided one with hydration, with rocks or pebbles.

If, when one does not show appreciation for an inanimate object he loses the use of it, certainly one must refrain from not being ungrateful and unappreciative towards family, friends, acquaintances and others who have helped him out.

Rabbi Avrohom Schorr expands on this concept. Just as one may not be ungrateful towards inanimate and animate things, the same concept applies to the treatment of spiritual things.

If one mistreats and degrades the spiritual, whether it is a Mitzvah, observance, tradition, concept, or our Sages, he is in jeopardy of forfeiting the spiritual energy and warmth that the Mitzvah has to offer. Even if he observes the Mitzvah, rather than feeling uplifted and inspired, the opposite will occur; he will feel unenlightened and unfulfilled.

A case in point: The Torah relates that while the Jews were encamped in the desert there was a person who, unfortunately, cursed G-d.

Rashi comments that what led this person to do this was that he mocked the Showbread on the Table in the Temple. He claimed the Showbread was cold, when in fact it was hot.

The reality is that the Showbread was baked on Friday and then placed on the Table on Shabbos and was distributed to the Kohanim – priests the following Shabbos. Miraculously the Showbread remained hot for nine days. More so, during the Festivals, the Kohanim would lift the Table showing all the visitors the great miracle that the Showbread was steaming hot even though it was on the Table which was not heated for all those days.

The Imrai Emes – Rebbe of Gur o.b.m. asks, how was it possible for this person to make fun of the Showbread claiming that it was cold? After all everyone saw steam emanating from it.

He explains, “If one looks at something ‘coldly,’ he sees only cold.” Since the one who mocked the Showbread had an adverse and loathing attitude towards it, he was literally unable to see the heat coming out of the bread. This approach led him even to curse the Almighty!

When Avraham was traveling to Mount Moriah to offer his son Yitzchok as a sacrifice, he travelled together with Yishmael and his servant Eliezer. When he recognized the destined area from afar, he asked, “Will everyone please describe what they see.” Yishmael and Eliezer described the scenery perfectly; Yitzchok however, related that he saw a spiritual cloud hovering over the mountain, which the others didn’t see.

Since only Yitzchok recognized the spiritual, Avraham took Yitzchok and left the other two behind, because he realized that they weren’t endowed with the spirit necessary to witness this experience. They might have seen it as barbaric act, while in reality the Binding of Yitzchok was Avraham’s ultimate test in his faith in G-d.

Avraham passed the test, thus instilling within his descendants the ability to recognize and appreciate the spiritual when they approach it with devotion, warmth and sincerity.

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks