This week's Parasha-Page is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Pinchas (Philip) Berger, whose Yahrzeit is 17 Adar, by his son, Mr. Avi Berger.
Parashat Ki-Tisa 5756
HASHEM'S HIDDEN TREASURES
Speak to the B'nai Yisrael, and tell them to keep the laws of My Shabbat because it is a sign between Me and you throughout the generations. I want the Jewish people to know that I am making them holy through the Shabbat.
Rav said, "One who plans to give a present to his friend must notify him in advance that he plans to give him a present" [in order to prepare the friend for it, so that the he won't be surprised and embarrassed when he suddenly receives a large gift -Rashi]. ...This is learned from the way Hashem gave us the Shabbat. Hashem said to Moshe, "I have a very special gift in My house of hidden treasures, and its name is 'Shabbat.' I intend to give it to the Jewish people -- go and inform them of My intentions."In this week's Parasha, Hashem instructs Moshe to inform the Jewish people that He is giving them a wonderful gift -- the Shabbat. The Gemara teaches that Hashem took the Shabbat from His "house of hidden treasures" in order to give it to us. Just where is Hashem's house of hidden treasures, and what does he keep there? Let us attempt to lift some of the veils that cover this cryptic Aggadic statement. Perhaps, by paying close attention to our Sages' choice of words, we may be able to reveal some of its secrets.
Rebbi Elazar said: Using the light that Hashem created on the first day of Creation, one could see from one end of the world to the other. When Hashem saw, however, the way people would sin in the generation of the Great Flood and the generation of the Tower of Babel, He hid that light from them. For whom did He hide it away? For the righteous in the World to Come.The light of Creation, a Divine Light, was hidden away for the righteous. It will be revealed to them in the World to Come. It would seem that the Divine Light was taken away as soon as it appeared in this world, on the first day of Creation (Bereishit 1:3). We find in Midrashic sources, however, that the mysterious Divine Light continued to play a prominent role at the end of creation. It was only hidden away after the first Shabbat:
When the sun set following the sixth day of Creation, Hashem wanted to hide away the Divine Light [i.e. the Divine Light should have been limited to the Garden of Eden, and when Adam and Chava were chased out of the Garden of Eden at sunset of the sixth day (Sanhedrin 38b) they should have lost the privilege of seeing the Divine Light -Maharzu]. However, in honor of the Shabbat Hashem let the light remain. [That is to say, He let the light remain in the entire world, even outside the Garden of Eden, and He didn't limit it to the Garden of Eden until after Shabbat -Maharzu]. This is what the verse means, "Hashem blessed the seventh day and sanctified it" (Bereishit 2:3). How did He bless it? With the Divine Light...
Rav Levi said, quoting Rav Ze'ira: For thirty-six hours Man enjoyed the Divine Light -- twelve hours before Shabbat, twelve hours on the eve of the first Shabbat, and twelve hours on the day of Shabbat. When the sun set following the first Shabbat, darkness came.Even though Man was not fit to take advantage of the Divine Light outside the Garden of Eden after his sin, nevertheless, Hashem let Man enjoy the Divine Light even outside the Garden of Eden for the duration of the Shabbat. The first Shabbat was unique in this sense. Nevertheless, the interpretation that the Midrash offers for the verse in Bereishit implies that this same light somehow graces our every Shabbat experience, albeit to a lesser extent. Apparently, there is a quality that the Divine Light imparts to Shabbat. Whatever coveted benefit the Divine Light grants the righteous in the World to Come, is granted to us in some respect by Shabbat. In this manner, the Divine Light shines once again on Shabbat. It does not shine as brightly as it did for Adam on that first Shabbat, but it's light nonetheless illuminates our Shabbat.
In fact, the Gemara teaches that Shabbat is no less than a sampling ("Me'en") of what is destined for us in the World to Come (Gemara Berachot 57b). Shabbat is referred to "as one in sixty of the World to Come" -- that is to say, a taste of what is to be in the World to Come (ibid.). Perhaps the Gemara is teaching us the same lesson as the above Midrash. Just as the light that Hashem hid away from this world will shine in the World to Come, so too that Divine Light -- or at least a certain taste of it -- shines in our Shabbat.
Perhaps this is what our Sages meant when they said that the Shabbat was one of the "hidden (Heb. 'Ganuz') treasures" of Hashem. Where does Hashem "hide away" His treasures? In the Garden of Eden, where the righteous will be able to enjoy it in the World to Come. And what are these treasures? Treasures such as the hidden Divine Light (Heb. "Ohr HaGanuz"), that mankind was not fit to behold. The Shabbat experience was taken from this Divine treasure house. Shabbat holds within it the key to experiencing the Divine Light in this world.
"Bnai Yisaschar" (HaRav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, c.1850) tells us, quoting from Kabalistic sources, "Where was it that Hashem hid away the Divine Light? He hid it away in the Torah!" (Bnai Yisaschar, Kislev, #1). Earlier we learned from the Midrash Bereishit Rabba that the Divine Light is confined to the Garden of Eden, at present. We now we see that we can find that light even in this world, in the Torah.
One source for this may be found in a Midrash Tanchuma (Noach, #3). The Midrash quotes the verse (Yeshayah 9:1), "Those that walked in darkness saw a tremendous light." This, explains the Midrash, is referring to those who learn the Talmud (Gemara), who see a great light. Hashem lights up their eyes with the correct knowledge of the Halacha, and He will show them the full light of the sun in the World to Come. (See Parasha-Page, Sukkot 5756, section II, about the sun of the World to Come and the sun of this world. It is interesting to note that the Gemara in Berachot [ibid.] counts the sun, too, as a sampler of the World to Come.) Through learning the Talmud, one can perceive the "tremendous light" of the World to Come. "He hid it away in the Torah."
Perhaps we can relate this Divine Light that shines from the Torah to the Divine Light of the Shabbat. The Midrash tells us that time is to be set aside on Shabbat for the study of Torah (Yalkut Shimoni #408). Shabbat is not merely a day off from work for bodily rest. Rather, we are to take advantage of our physical rest, and busy ourselves with our spiritual growth (as we discussed at length in Parasha-Page, Vayakhel 5755). Perhaps this is what it means that the Divine Light shines to a certain extent during every Shabbat. On Shabbat, the Divine Light that emanates from the Torah is given an opportunity to shine.
As we have seen, the primeval Divine Light was "hidden" with Hashem's treasures. The Gemara in Berachot teaches us exactly what is that Hashem treasures:
Rebbi Chanina said: Hashem decrees everything is to happens to a person before he is born, except for whether or not he will fear Hashem. As Rav Chanina said from Rav Shimon bar Yochai: The only thing that Hashem treasures is a person's fear of Hashem.Our role in this world is to teach ourselves the fear of Hashem. It is our only true goal in life. Hashem treasures whatever we can accomplish towards that goal. It is our awe and fear for Hashem, that He keeps in his house of hidden treasures! Anything that can produce this desired goal and bring us to fear Hashem, is said to be in Hashem's treasure-house as well.
This is the secret of the Divine Light that will shine for the righteous in the World to Come. The Divine Light is the clear realization of Hashem's presence in the world. This is the light with which one could see "from one end of the world to the other" -- from the purpose of Creation, to the expiration of this world and the reward of the righteous in the World to Come. Originally, Hashem made the world in a way such that it would be clear to everyone that He was its Creator and King. However, when Hashem saw that man would still sin, he hid away that light. If man sinned even when it was obvious that Hashem was king, he would bring catastrophe on all of Creation. If man sinned because there was room for him to miss the signs of Hashem's presence, then at least then he would not be rebelling openly against his Creator. Hashem therefore hid the Divine Light from mankind until the World to Come. In the World to Come however, the Divine Light shines in full glory. It will be clear to all, at that point, that Hashem is our Lord and Creator. (See Parasha-Page for Sukkot 5756, section III, and for Yitro 5756, section III.)
Hashem left us an opportunity to appreciate the Divine Light -- to become clearly aware of His existence -- by way of the Torah. By studying the teachings in the Torah and by acting according to its ways, we come to realize plainly that there is a Creator in this world, and that we are His creations, put on this world to do His will. This is the light that is "hidden in the Torah." Similarly, Shabbat offers us the opportunity to grow in the fear of Heaven, and to become closer to Hashem in this world. It is in this way that the Divine Light shines forth on Shabbat. On Shabbat everyone feels closer to Hashem. As the Mishnah tells us, even a person who normally can not be trusted to tell the truth is trusted about what he says on Shabbat, because on Shabbat he is afraid to lie (D'mai 4:1)! On Shabbat, he too "sees the light."
"When one cries upon the death of a righteous person, Hashem counts those tears and places them in his house of hidden treasures."Why does Hashem treasures tears shed over the passing of a righteous man? Because these tears are signs of the fear of Heaven. When someone cries at the passing of a G-d-fearing person, it shows that he truly fears Hashem. He feels the lack of a person who set an example for others in the fear Hashem. This is why Hashem takes these tears and places them in His house of hidden treasures -- the place which is reserved for collecting acts that display the fear of Heaven!