Sunday, March 3, 2013

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Parashas Ki Sisa 

Shabbat: The Torah That Guards Us Both 

Rabbi David Katz 

Parashas Ki Sisa documents a very powerful description of Shabbat amidst Chapter 31 of Ki Sisa, in a beautiful segment sandwiched between Betzalel – and his Divinely Inspired Craftsmanship of the Tabernacle, onwards towards our Jewish-Noahide combination of Eleven Spices, and ultimately settling into the Shabbat details as the Torah drifts into the sunset [almost literally], before stumbling over the Erev Rav, and their small knowledge, claiming that somehow, all until now, has not been of the sublime. Before Tragedy and schism strikes the World, Hashem managed to get a finger in edgewise, revealing the secrets within “His Sabbaths” and days of rest, that would ultimately become heritage to the Jewish People, and the inheritors of the primordial Shabbat Days [going back to Joseph, who was known to have kept Shabbat as opposed to remembered Shabbat, consistent within the command of our Parsha], would become the sanctuary of the Ger[im], the modern day Noahide.

Shabbat is the observance of Creation by Hashem, and is seen in Chazal [in matters of Law] that the Sabbath Day [and Honor of] is akin to having kept the entire Torah, to those that properly rest and worship on the Seventh Day according to His Torah. One can clearly see into every realm of reality, every Torah Truth, the more he considers the Divine Truth to Shabbat. It is the very essence of the Seventh Day, and all components upon which all is revealed, and is accessible within context of a proper and appropriate rest day. As it entails all of Creation by the Finger of God [hence the Tablets also under the Finger of God, such that the Shabbat there represents a macro – micro relationship to the Torah and relationship with God], one will find animated life of color invested in reality, as long as within the company of the key components of the Torah’s saga, namely the Ger and the Jew, and their respective entourage that takes refuge in the remaining six days of the week. 

The Torah says “My Sabbaths” you shall guard, a throwback to the days of Joseph, and his preference of keeping Guard of Shabbat, as opposed to a misled belief that perhaps simply remembering may be more a representation of the essence of the Day, an intent and focus upon not one people, but two – the Jew and the Ger, who ultimately share common ground. While the Jew is the subject of direct command of God pertaining to the Guarding and Remembering of the Shabbat [which effectively evokes a full seven day service lifestyle and culture upon Israel], the Torah introduces a revelation that underneath the shroud of reality is the Universe of a true Ger Toshav, hence a status [even if not completely] of Eretz Yisrael, and thus a demand of nothing less than a day of rest outside of the Holy Land; all the more so when enjoying full liberty as a Ger serving Hashem from up close amongst Israel.

Under the microscope of Joseph and his observance of Shabbat within the borders of Egypt amongst the Tribes of Israel [which was before Sinai], the Midrash points out that the distinction being made by Joseph was one of an eternal Teaching and influence that would apply to every Ger in the future - that of the nature to this day of rest. Joseph explicitly guarded Shabbat, as the verse points out that Joseph prepared for Shabbat, which Chazal identify as a proper intent and guard; however Joseph very carefully desecrated the Shabbat so as to not disrupt what would be a revelation of revelations towards the ultimate and authentic Sinai, a historic event that would solely own rights of certain Torah expression. 

Joseph with his Divine Inspiration sent off the brothers while the sun shone upon the Sabbath morning, a clear Torah violation of Shabbat, yet would serve not only as a point of merit to Joseph, but would be a benchmark for the eternal Ger. The Midrash explains that the Wisdom taken from this guarding, is a concern of the Ger becoming too cautious of the commands applicable to Shabbat. The Torah is about to outline an incredible use of language that accentuates the subtle nature within the spiritual DNA of the Ger, and even onto what makes up a Jew from the inside.

Despite all of the hidden symbolism within Chapter 31 that clearly hints at a Shabbat for Two in the words of the Sages and Kabbalah, the Torah reveals the innards of spirituality, ironically within a context that leaves many scratching their heads, questioning the Torah’s motives and authenticity, and ultimately leaves the uneducated with an innate desire to innovate words from his own thinking that are foreign to the Torah – all to rationalize that which contradict the Torah’s strikingly harsh tone. Most are aware of the warning labels that come with Shabbat: Keep it the wrong way – and die, yet where people stumble in near total conformity is in their inability to ascertain that which is in command form, and that which is simply understood as, “Good Counsel.” [Eitzah Tovah, the Wisdom that emanates from Binah; Daughters of Tzlafchad in assoc. of their love of Israel as heirs to Joseph]

The Torah threatens death to he who fails to comply with the Will of God as to how the Sabbath should be kept, and in this way it conjures up the same undertones that once pounded the Garden of Eden, on what was the world’s most disastrous Shabbat – the essence of time that we still seek to rectify to this day and hour. Granted “death” generally is a one-way street in context and connotation when delivered as a command, yet when the Torah is perceived as Good Counsel from “God – He who acts as our Father in Heaven”, perhaps the intent is to embed a dose of reality into our existence, with a self-knowledge that functions to the opposite of death, i.e. Life; a viable Tree of Life in contrast to this proverbial Tree of Knowledge conundrum.

The evil inclination is the ailment and the Torah is the remedy; God threatens death vs. “good ‘ole advice.” When one hears, “if you keep Shabbat as such and such – you will die” – the feeling of something not being right finds its way into our logic center, our Torah point of view that turns to doubt, a power of Amalek. The Torah’s dynamic message however, was sounded over deaf ears, for God’s word was to educate the student as to what actually does kill you! 

The Jew and the Ger both life a life of unique intensity, one that needs catered to, cared for, and an expansive and flexible knowledge base as how to cope with our solitary reality called life. To make the point in the simplest terms [and to recall Joseph’s precaution against over caution]: Life is dangerous, intense, and requires responsibility; for this Torah speaks counsel in the words of command, so as to care for our delicate souls that already desire a return to their Creator, one that we need not hasten due to an inability to immediately understand the thoughts of God. The Jew and the Ger can’t “intermarry” if you will, the same way as a sister and a brother must not perform this evil deed. One can review the Torah of Abraham who claimed Sarah was his sister in marriage, who in truth was not; the Torah’s wisdom teaches that the reason they could not technically be in such relation was due to the inability to contain such an intensity that would be born of this inter-union that goes against the Torah.

 If we view the Ger as the Brother and the Jew as his Sister, one will soon realize, the intensity, although matched [as they are certainly related] are only survived if unique and painfully separated. As this may sound as a song of sorrow, there is no joy greater than the unity found from a repair of schism that was best served from schism.

A Jewish lifestyle is simply intense, and thus his Shabbat is EXACTLY what he needs to survive this onslaught of life’s intensity. Such a dynamic, when mastered in truth, and realized as an impossibility, even death, if perpetrated as a worship as per a Ger, will result in the Jew finding a union with his Creator and a path alongside his mate in the Torah Universe, the Ger. The intensity becomes a healthy channel that burns as a fire for God and a passion to illuminate the World.

The Ger is therefore equally as intense, the perfect complement to his Jewish counterpart, and thus he needs a proper channel in that he should find his service pleasing before Hashem. The Ger is told, “If you keep Shabbat as a Jew – you die.” This is often seen as a contradiction based on the obvious, and in conjunction to the fact that of course the Ger has Shabbat, as listed in seemingly endless sources within Torah. 

Thus the message is delivered from the mouth of Joseph, “do not become overly cautious of the commands of the Shabbat.” The Ger survives and succeeds in Hashem’s Creation with a certain status quo of intensity and fire, ironically, to a height that many dismiss from oversight of the obvious; see from the unnecessary conversions to Judaism [although not entirely] as proof to the dilemma imposed upon the Ger and his World.

The Ger’s soul and heart burn to please God and live in His Torah [reality], and not surprisingly, they produce an intense love directed towards God. The study of Torah [which is the primary tool of observance on the Shabbat of the Ger] would then prove to be the truly Holy of Holies in the perspective of a Ger’s internal core. A love affair that operates on high impact energy must come with instruction and care to protect the Ger, hence, the Torah and her counsel creates the heart to heart with the Ger. As this seems to be the solution, the only drawback is the intensity itself contained within both Hashem and the Ger; one cries out to aide, while the other moans in despair from displaced intensity.

The Ger Shabbat is his return to a one –on – one with Hashem and His Torah, and the loathed warning simply comes to the ear of the Ger, as to say, “don’t keep the Shabbat as a Jew, for you will be found to die.” The Torah comes to liberate the Ger, and allows him to always focus on the big picture with the finest pixels of a most pertinent reality, i.e. the rest day. The Ger is in love with God and Torah much like an inflammation of heart and soul; thus the diet becomes crucial if one is to walk a long existence with his Creator. Had the Ger focus on the Shabbat itself, the love would grow, but not to the exclusion of her intensity, and ultimately one would find territory of either burnout, exhaustion, or even death – exactly as the Torah counsel [as opposed to command tone] had decreed.

The Torah was given to the Jewish People, who through their own “Ger” experience stood converted at Sinai, as a will of God as put in effect from Abraham and Shem. The revelation and Book of Israel contained on that day 620 commandments, with 613 to Israel and 7 to the Ger. An infrastructure would be delivered to each camp, and thus a destiny of intensity was born on that mountain. The Shabbat would be the only mechanism that could express Creation, Sinai, the two Nations, and unity amongst them all as an honor to God. The mission was of sublime importance, and thus the integrity of this Brother – Sister affair proved to be integral. While each received a vessel that was unique in its service, an interaction, friendship, and Shabbat relationship would be the superior means to achieve the Torah’s vision of “Tikkun.”

In a World where we often lose sight of basic principles of Truth contained in a child-like wisdom, the perception of God returns to prehistoric dearth, rather than the ancient beauty it has earned the right to express and claim to be. The Torah is the universal message to Mankind, Jew and Ger alike, as they strive to perfect the World, and spread God’s intensity as a Knowledge of God. By the grace of God, both have each other, neither are alone, and God is honored [says the prophet concerning Shabbat], for Shabbat, the eternal witness to the fire of two peoples that exist within Seven reoccurring Days, will forever be the sanctuary to Knowledge of God, and a restful spirit and breath [to God, the Jew , and the Ger], as the Torah says, “He relaxed, and He rested”; the curious of the Torah shall note that the end letters of this stamp of God spells, “two.” Indeed, and a word to the wise should suffice in this matter. 
Shabbat Shalom. 

Classes This Week:

Motzie Shabbos [Sat. Night] 10 PM - Parsha Shavua In - Depth

Wed. Night 11 PM - "Torah of the Ger" ["Modern Noahide"] In Text [on-going series]

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Goldie ZP said...

I am playing catch up with your lessons via yours posts and audio. Thank you for teaching Torah from Zion.

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