Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Bamidbar) Peaceful, Pleasurable and Cleansing

Greetings from the Holy City of Jerusalem!
Malki and I are here celebrating the wedding of Doni Kandel and Chava Rutta. Chava is the daughter of our dear friends Richie and Julie Rutta.
Shavuos - Wednesday & Thursday May 15th & 16th 2013
As we are entering the final stretch of counting the 49 days / seven weeks that bridge the Holiday of Pesach to the Holiday of Shavuos, I want to focus on two of the Ten Commandments: The observance of the weekly Shabbos and honoring parents.

The Holiday of Shavuos marks the awesome event when G-d pronounced the Ten Commandments in the presence of the entire Jewish Nation while they were encamped at Mount Sinai.

The Ten Commandments contain mostly ‘don’ts.’ The laws pertaining to Shabbos and honoring parents, although there are many don’ts associated with them, are presented in the Ten Commandments in the positive; Remember the Holy Day of Shabbos and Honor your father and mother.

There is another similarity with these two laws and that is that they were both given to the Jewish Nation before the nation came into the covenant with G-d at Mount Sinai, at a place called Marah. As an introduction to accepting the 613 laws at Mount Sinai, the Jews were introduced to the laws of Shabbat and the Honoring parents.

Rabbi Avrohom Schorr explains that these two laws are the flagship of a Jew. They were given to the Jews when the other laws weren’t yet in effect. This also serves to impress upon an individual who feels he has strayed and has no relationship left with Almighty, that there is hope. He can look back at our history and survey that at one time the Jews had only these two Mitzvos – keeping the Shabbat and Honoring Parents. Thus he will come to realize the great significance that lies within them.

Honoring Parents is an expression of appreciation and gratitude. By showing such honor to those he owes his life to, he will come to honor and show gratitude to the ultimate Creator of All as well.

Shabbat observance is essential to the existence and eternity of a Jew. In fact, the Talmud states that even if a person has sunk to the lowest levels of committing idolatry, if he is Shomer Shabbos – Shabbos observant, G-d forgives him for all his sins. Such is the power of Shabbos!

G-d ensured that no one should ever feel they are too far gone to connect and have a relationship with Him! This concept goes much further. I recently came across a commentary written on the Shulchan Oruch – code of Jewish law, by the name of the Taz.

The Taz quotes the Talmud which we just mentioned regarding the power of Shabbos – that it forgives the sin of idolatry. He asks the following: What are the circumstances the Talmud is referring to: If the person is still worshipping idols, what kind of benefit is there if he is observing the Shabbos? He is an idolater! And if the person had already given up idolatry and observes the Shabbos, then what is so remarkable that G-d forgives him for his sins? After all, he repented.

The Taz explains: Yes, of course the Talmud is referring to one who has repented and left his awful sin of idolatry. However, not all sins are fully atoned for by acting in a repenting fashion. Maimonides writes in his code of Law that there are some sins so serious that a person must go through some sort of punishment in order to be atoned.

The Taz therefore says something awesome and incredible: Idolatry is one of the sins that simple repentance does not absolve the person from suffering to gain complete atonement. However, the Talmud clues us in that the awesome, remarkable and powerful effect of observing the Shabbos and its laws – has the power, authority and clout to thoroughly cleanse a person from the most serious sins without going through any cleansing that otherwise may require distress or pain!

The tranquility, holiness, enjoyable spirit and peace that the Shabbos gives us, is a gift that G-d gave only to His nation - it is ours to take advantage of, to keep and enjoy!

The word Shavuos means weeks – referring to the seven week count. Shavuos also means an oath. A person taking an oath makes a commitment. Our ancestors took an oath at Mount Sinai to uphold the Torah. The Holiday of Shavuos is a time to reflect and commit ourselves to that oath.

Click on - Shabbat at a Glance - A quick overview of its splendor and practice
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks