Zohar, Beshalach, p. 47a; translation and commentary by Simcha
(From our sister-site, Kabbala
The difference between the expectations of the Zohar regarding
spiritual leadership and our expectations regarding secular leadership
are made clear in the following piece. It is interesting to note that
the elections in Israel fell on this parasha the last time they were
held and will follow shortly after the parasha this time.
Moses said to the people, 'Do not fear, stand still, and see the salvation of
G-d'." (Ex. 14:13). Rebbe Shimon said: How happy is the lot of Israel that
a shepherd such as Moses walked among them. It is written, "Then He remembered
the days of old, of Moses his people" (Is. 63:11). "He remembered the
days of old...", refers to the Holy One blessed be He [who recalled the Exodus].
"...Moses his people" [shows that] Moses was of equal weight as all
And we learn from this that the spiritual leader of
the people is in fact the equivalent of the entire nation. If he is worthy, then
all the people are [deemed] worthy. If he is not worthy, then the entire people
are [judged as] unworthy and are punished because of him, as we have explained.
Rashi quotes the Midrash Tanchuma as a source for his commentary
on Numbers 21:21: "the leader of the generation is like the entire generation
because the leader is equivalent to all".
still and see the salvation of G-d". You need not fight for the Holy One
blessed be He, [for He] will wage war for you, as the verse states: "G-d
will fight for you, and you shall remain silent" (Ex. 14:14). Come and see,
on that night [of the splitting of the Reed Sea] the Holy One blessed be He, gathered
all His entourage together to pass judgment on Israel [as to whether they were
worthy to be saved]. If it were not for the forefathers who had come first [to
pray on behalf of their future children], they would not have been rescued from
the judgment. Rebbe Yehuda said that it was the merit of Jacob that stood in favor
of Israel as is written, "If it had not been G-d who was on our side [to
save us], let Israel now say." (Ps. 124:1). That is [a reference to] Grandfather
Israel [who prayed for the salvation of his children].
the importance of prayer, especially in time of war.
of the Reed Sea by the People of Israel was preceded by an instruction from G-d
not to fight the advancing Egyptian Army. In Hebrew the word for fighter is "lochem"
and shares the same root with the word for bread, "lechem". In the following
discourse a parallel is drawn between stopping to fight for our bread on the Shabbat,
and the instruction that Israel were given not to fight on the banks of the Reed
"G-d will fight for you, and you will be silent".
Rebbe Aba opened his discourse with the verse "If you restrain your traveling
because of the Shabbat, from pursuing your business on My holy day, and call the
Shabbat a delight, to sanctify the honor of G-d, and honor it, not doing your
usual things, nor pursuing your own desires or speaking of mundane things, then
shall you delight yourself in the Lord." (Isaiah 58:13-14). How happy is
the lot of Israel, that the Holy One blessed be He chose them to bind to out of
all of the other people's of the earth, and out of the love for them brought them
closer to Him and gave them the Torah and gave them the Shabbat which is the most
holy of all the other days [of the week]. It has rest from everything and is the
happiness of all [Israel].
The commentary on the Zohar, Matok
MiDvash, notes that the three expressions regarding Shabbat that are a reference
to the three higher sefirot. Shabbat is called "Holy" which is rooted
in the sefira of chochma; "rest" from all outside influences is sourced
in keter, and "happiness" refers to the sefira of bina. This in turn
hints that the soul, which dwells in these three highest sefirot, is rejuvenated
by the Shabbat.
The Shabbat balances against the whole Torah
and one who keeps the Shabbat is considered as though he has kept the whole Torah.
Since the Shabbat rejuvenates the soul, and since the Torah
is called a "tree of life", one can be balanced against the other. This
explains the secular world's fight against the Shabbat - because once you "defeat
Shabbat" you defeat the Torah. Indeed the pious waves of immigrants to America
from Russia 100 years ago became estranged from the Torah as a direct result of
being drawn into the desecration of Shabbat, feeling they had to "fight for
their bread" also on that holy day.
"And you shall
call to the Shabbat a delight" (Isaiah 58:13). [This means] delight in everything;
delight of the spirit and of the body, enjoyment of the higher and lower worlds.
And what is the meaning of the words "You shall call to [the Sabbath]"?
This means that you have to invite it, as is written, "Called Holy"
(Lev. 23:2). This means that you call to it or invite it, just as one would invite
a guest into his house.
Here the Zohar tells us the mental
attitude required to obtain the full delight of the Shabbat. It is a frame of
mind where one is expecting a delightful guest, and then, once the guest arrives,
to enjoy their company. This explains why the holy Ari would literally go out
into the fields to greet the Shabbat. This was a physical manifestation of an
inner state of mind that enables one to cling to the sanctity of the day. This
is also the reason behind the other customs of greeting the Shabbat.
one should greet the Shabbat] with the house in proper order, with food and drink
worthy and fitting [a special guest], more than on other days.
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Shmuel-Simcha Treister is a lawyer from New Zealand
who made aliya to Safed with his family in 1993 to study Zohar. He continues doing
so to this day. He also works in the Ascent multi-media center.