Seasons - Then and Now

For the week ending 11 July 2015 / 24 Tammuz 5775

Shabbat - Part 2

by Rabbi Chaviv Danesh
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One idea behind the depth of the Shabbat is its resemblance to and reflection of the World-to-Come, as explained previously [*Shimon, please add a link to that article – TY]. Its laws echo this idea, since it means that just as one may only reap the benefits of one’s actions from this world when one enters the World-to-Come, likewise, the only enjoyment that one obtains on Shabbat is due to his preparations beforehand.

Taking this relationship between Shabbat and the World-to-Come even further, we are faced with the following question: What is the meaning behind the halacha of allowing raw food to cook on Shabbat, an act ordinarily forbidden, as long as it was properly placed on a covered heat source from before Shabbat’s commencement? How is this halacha portrayed in Shabbat’s connection to the World-to-Come where seemingly no new changes can take place?

In order to answer the above question we first need to analyze a seemingly obscure Gemara about the judgment that takes place every year on Rosh Hashana. The Gemara says that on Rosh Hashana G-d opens up both the Books of the Living and the Books of the Dead for judgment. This statement of our Sages seems puzzling, as why would the Books of the Dead be opened for judgment? What new deeds have the dead performed for which they deserve an additional judgment?

We are taught that the actions of one's child can bring extra merits to the parents even after a parent's death. The reason for this is that since the parents brought the child into the world and furthermore directed the child to the correct path, they rightfully have a share in all the good deeds that their children will perform in the future. The same is true of a teacher who taught his students Torah and mitzvot. He too has a share in everything that his students will do, since in a way he was the catalyst to bring them about.

The Anaf Yosef (Berachot 18b s.v. ela ben ish chai) uses this principle when clarifying the Gemara that describes that the righteous in their death are called alive and the wicked when they are alive are called dead. Since the purpose of life in this world is performing mitzvot, a wicked person who misuses his gift of life by selfishly refraining from mitzvah observance is called dead. A righteous person, however, continues to acquire mitzvot even once he has left this world through what he has left behind. The Vilna Gaon explains that this is the meaning behind the statement from the Gemara: Rabbi Chiya the son of Rav Ashi said in the name of Rav, the righteous have no rest, not in this world and not in the World-toCome, as it says: they will go from strength to strength… (Berachot 64a). Since the righteous have affected many lives, and their actions have tremendous positive repercussions, they continue to rise in greatness even after they leave this world.

This idea further explains the Gemara that says that when one quotes words of Torah in the name of he who had originated this Torah thought (someone who had already passed on), the lips of the dead move in his grave (Yevamot 96b). The B’nei Yisaschar (M’amrei Chodesh Adar 3:6:14) elaborates that mitzvot may only be performed with a physical body implanted in this physical world. When someone performs the mitzvah of giving over words of Torah, and indeed gives the proper credit to the deceased scholar, it is as though the dead had performed the mitzvah with his own body; thus the idea of his lips moving in the grave.

Using the ideas above we can address the Gemara that says even the dead are judged on Rosh Hashana. Rabbi Aharon Kotler (Mishnat Rabbi Aharon p. 252) explains that while the dead have not performed any new actions during the previous year, they are judged every year for the results their actions have caused during the previous year. Thus, even though they cannot do any more mitzvot once they leave this world, they nevertheless can gather mitzvot through the influences they left behind.

We may now address the original question posed. One who leaves behind the six days of the week and enters into the holy day of Shabbat is compared to one who leaves this world and enters into the World-toCome. While an individual may no longer actively perform any new mitzvot while in the World-to-Come, any ramifications from the mitzvot he had performed while alive will continue to flourish, and he can still obtain benefit for those mitzvot while in the World-to-Come. Similarly, a creative forbidden act that had been initiated from before the Shabbat began, like cooking, may continue to take effect even once the Shabbat has entered. Thus, even this halacha of Shabbat exactly mirrors the nature of the World-to-Come. May we all merit taking this lesson of the Shabbat to heart and leave as many good influences in this world as possible.

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