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Wednesday, April 08, 2020
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After Maariv on Motzei Shabbos, someone next to me said, “Oh good! Only six more days to Shabbos!” I thought that was so refreshing! A similar perspective comes from Rabbi Effy Buchwald, founder of NJOP. He runs a beginner’s program called “Turn your Friday night into Shabbat.” On the other hand, many people can’t wait until Shabbos is over—to go to the pizza store, check their emails or eat out.

Truthfully, we all need inspiration at times to “turn our Shabbos…into Shabbos!”

A great perspective comes from the opening of Parshas Vayakhel. Moshe gathered all the Bnei Yisrael and told them about Shabbos, “Eleh hadvarim asher tziva Hashem la’asos osam. (These are the things that Hashem commanded us to do).” Why did Moshe refer to Shabbos as the time “la’asos”—to act? What specific action is required to observe Shabbos? And why does Moshe refer to the Bnei Yisrael here as “Adas (congregation of) Bnei Yisrael?”

The Chidushei Harim gives an incredible explanation. When Bnei Yisrael said, “Na’aseh v’nishma” [we will do and we will listen] at the foot of Mount Sinai, they expressed their willingness to follow Hashem’s commands before they knew what it all entailed. For this full trust in the Almighty, each Jew was crowned by an angel with two crowns: one for the word na’aseh and one for the word nishma.

Then the sin of the Golden Calf happened. They lost their crowns, but where did those crowns go? The Chidushei Harim says Moshe received all the crowns. That’s why Moshe’s face radiated with such an intensely brilliant light when he came down from Har Sinai with the luchos. No man could gaze at Moshe from the brilliance—he was wearing all the crowns of the Bnei Yisrael.

Yet, the Midrash says that Bnei Yisrael only lost one of the crowns—the crown of na’aseh [we will do] as they did not act according to the will of Hashem. However, each Jew retained one crown—the crown of nishma—we will listen/learn.

The word the Torah uses to refer to the crown they received is “adi” (adornment) as Hashem told Moshe to instruct the Bnei Yisrael, “Ve’atah horid es edyecha, (Now, remove your crowns)” from on you. The Chidushei Harim says this helps us understand what Hashem is telling Bnei Yisrael about Shabbos.

Moshe gathered “…kol adas Yisrael.” The word adas has the same root as adi—crown. Moshe gathered the Bnei Yisrael with all their “crowns” and instructed them about the detailed observance of Shabbos, i.e., la’asos—what to do. By heeding to the nishma of Shabbos, learning Torah and letting ourselves experience the holiness of Shabbos, we enable ourselves to then act, not just in performing the mitzvos of Shabbos, but also in performing our mitzvos during the entire week, thus reclaiming the crown of na’aseh.

Some are fortunate to have the mindset to look forward to Shabbos the whole week. But everyone can utilize Shabbos to energize their actions for the next week.

The crowns of na’aseh v’nishma give us a tremendous shine and glow. Indeed, the Torah describes the shine that emanates from the crowns as “keren ohr.” As Rashi explains, keren is a horn (likely where Michelangelo got the impression that Jews have horns and added horns to his painting of Moshe). Rashi makes clear there were no actual horns, but rather a ray of light radiated from Moshe’s face.

I believe that keren is the root of the word corona as it’s defined in the dictionary: “Astronomy: A faintly luminous envelope outside of the sun’s chromosphere. Anatomy: The upper portion or crown of a part, as of the head.”

Because of the coronavirus, most of us are limited in movement this Shabbos, as shuls are closed in many communities and we are confined to our homes. Now more than ever, let us work on bringing and enhancing the radiance of Shabbos into our homes.

Perhaps we need to reclaim our own “coronas”—our crowns and their shine—to dispel the coronavirus.

The crowns were a gift for our acceptance of the Torah. We just experienced Purim where the megillah indicates the Bnei Yisrael re-accepted the Torah voluntarily (as opposed to Matan Torah, when the mountain was held over their heads).

Let us now really experience Shabbos. Let us live Shabbos. Some view Shabbos as a day of rest—to zone out, to “chill,” to dress down. But Shabbos deserves to be honored with special clothing, joy and excitement. Sure, a nap is part of the enjoyment of Shabbos. Yet, the longer days currently permit us to dedicate more time to study Torah, to sing more songs and to engage in important discussions with our family about what Hashem wants from us.

In this way, we will truly “own” the crown jewel of Shabbos.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. PTI has attracted people from all over northern New Jersey, including Teaneck, Paramus, Fair Lawn, Livingston and West Orange. He initiated and leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. He has spread out beyond PTI to begin a weekly beis medrash program with in-depth chavrusa learning in Livingston, Fort Lee and a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected] For more info about PTI and its full offering of torah classes visit www.pti.shulcloud.com

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