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  • 100, 20 and 7 years - why the Torah breaks down the years of the life of Sarah Imeinu?

    וַיִּהְיוּ֙ חַיֵּ֣י שָׂרָ֔ה מֵאָ֥ה שָׁנָ֛ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֑ים שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה׃ - Sarah’s lifetime—the span of Sarah’s life—came to one hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years. (Bereshit 23:1)

    Here Torah broke down the years of her life into the stages of 100, 20 & 7 years. This is what Rashi says on it:  ויהיו חיי שרה מאה שנה ועשרים שנה ושבע שנים And the life of Sarah was 127 years (literally, 100 years, 20 years and 7 years) — The reason the word שנה is written at every term is to tell you that each term must be explained by itself as a complete number: at the age of one hundred she was as a woman of twenty as regards sin — for just as at the age of twenty one may regard her as having never sinned, since she had not then reached the age when she was subject to punishment, so, too, when she was one hundred years old she was sinless — and when she was twenty she was as beautiful as when she was seven (Bereshit Rabbah 58:1).

    But my question, why would Torah break down her years and what is Torah hinting at?

    The Yalkut Shimoni (16:78), says Avraham Avinu was 25 years old and Sarai was 15 years old when they got married, this makes them as barren couple for 75 years.

    When Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu got married they brought into their marriage their past experiences. On top of it, during their life together, Avraham Avinu went through many more trials in his life: being childless for 75 years and everything that comes with it, problems in the community, being singled out in his hometown for his monotheistic ideas, being thrown into a fiery furnace, and many other tribulations in his path of life.

    And during all of this, one thing we know for sure, Sarah Imeinu was there for him and with him all that time, feeling his pain and supporting him in all of his trials and endeavors.

    When the angels came to them in Parashat Vayera, she was there in the tent (Bereshit 18:9) working tirelessly doing the work to support Avraham's endeavor of hosting guests and spreading the faith of One G-d.

    When Hashem told him to leave his hometown in Parashat Lech Lecha, she travelled with him from place to place for many months, enduring much suffering during those travels. 

    When she gave Hagar to Avraham Avinu as a maidservant to have a child through her, and Hagar got pregnant from the first time, Sarah Imeinu suffered much from Hagar later since she started shaming Sarah, because she couldn't conceive.

    She was there when he was in trouble and in pain. She was there for him when he was bringing people back to Hashem, tirelessly doing the work needed to be done. And she was there when he was in triumph at the birth of his son Yitzchak.

    Sarah Imeinu didn't live her life - her life had a purpose, her life had a vision, she was part of something BIG, something that was driving her existence. She was like a moon reflecting the life struggles, accomplishments and the vision of Avraham Avinu. So when Avraham Avinu reached the age of 100 years old, it was her age and achievement as well, it was as if she reached that age, since she has been with him through the good and the bad together.

    So what are the 20 years? Shlomo Hamelech said in the song of Eshet Chayil, צ֭וֹפִיָּה הֲלִיכ֣וֹת בֵּיתָ֑הּ - She oversees the activities of her household. When Sarah Imeinu saw the behavior of Yishmael - shooting the arrows toward Yitzchak, as a play, she foresaw this as a future problem, so she asked Avraham Avinu to send Yishmael away, thus making sure Yitzchak would be the only heir through whom the nation will be build. Avraham Avinu did so, so the next 20 years she was raising Yitzchak in the way of Torah, instilling in him the values of Torah and the idea that he would be the next patriarch to build the future of the nation.

    The next 7 years, were the years where she worked on his love and full dedication to Hashem. When Yitzchak asked his father Avraham Avinu, where's the korban that will be brought when they get to their destination? Avraham Avinu answered him that Hashem will choose the korban, and this is when Yitzchak understood that it was him that would be the korban, and it says that they Vayelchu Shnechem Yachdav - And the two of them walked on together (Bereshit 22:7-8). He understood, and accepted that he will be the korban that his father will bring, and he walked together with his father to his death. He was not made the korban, they brought a sheep as a korban instead (Bereshit 22:13), but since he has accepted the decision of Hashem, he was elevated to the holiest level - worthy of becoming one of the Avot.

    Avraham Avinu came from the Akedah and saw that Sarah Imeinu passed away. Torah says that he didn't mourn for long (Bereshit 23:2-3). He needed to get up and do the things that needed to be done. Why? Because, remember they were on a mission - Sarah Imeinu and Avraham Avinu were a team and were together on this all along - working tirelessly day and night for years. Since in order to build the nation, and this nation should have a future, one needs to claim ownership of the land. So he purchased the land - which is a Maarat HaMachpela, where Adam and Chava were already buried. Right after that Avraham Avinu started looking for a wife, for his son Yitzchak.

    Avraham Avinu married Ketura and had children with her. Years later, he sent them all away to the East, thus to separate them from the future Am Yisrael and Yitzchak. Following their example, years later Rivkah Imeinu made sure that Yakov gets the beracha from his father Yitzchak Avinu, which made Yaakov Avinu the next patriarch of the nation.

    The last sentence in the song Eshet Chayil, written by Shelomo HaMelech says: תְּנוּ־לָ֭הּ מִפְּרִ֣י יָדֶ֑יהָ וִיהַלְל֖וּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִ֣ים מַֽעֲשֶֽׂיהָ׃ - Extol her for the fruit of her hand, And let her works praise her in the gates. The fruit of her hands - as Rashi explains, Glory and greatness, strength, beauty and the ruling power. I would like to also add wisdom and the loyalty to be by her husband's side, to stick to the goal of building the nation, to foresee the trouble that may lay ahead, and to raise the family in the values of the Torah. This is what Sarah Imeinu accomplished and this is what she has entrusted all the women after her - to follow in her footsteps and to continue her work and the work of Avraham Avinu. That is why all men sing to their wives every Erev Shabbat: אֵֽשֶׁת־חַ֭יִל מִ֣י יִמְצָ֑א וְרָחֹ֖ק מִפְּנִינִ֣ים מִכְרָֽהּ׃- What a rare find is a capable wife! Her worth is far beyond the gemstones.

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Shmuel Katanov

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  • The Shattered Dreams

    As you know in the Parashat Shelach, the nation asks Moshe Rabbeinu to send out the spies, to spy out the land, even though Hashem has told them to just go into the land. Moshe is not too excited about this idea, so he asks Hashem, and Hashem tells him to send them for himself -  Shelach Lecha Anashim in Parashat Shelach 13:2. We all know the end of this episode of the history - the meraglim come back with a bad report, and due to the sin of slandering the land, all the males ages 20 and up of that generation, were buried in the desert, and were not able to enter the Promised Land. 

    It seems harsh that due to some biased calculations of the few, so many people are punished. Here they are standing just a few days away from Eretz Yisrael, and about to enter the land. Suddenly people come, and ask Moshe Rabbeinu to send out the spies. This is something Moshe Rabbeinu doesn't want to do, since Hashem already told him to go into the land, since it is yours and Hashem is with the nation. But the few turn everything around, and put Moshe into a difficult position where he is forced to ask Hashem for permission to send people as spies, where he is risking a chance that something might go wrong. And something does go wrong - the meraglim come back with a bad report, slander the land and Hashem tells everyone to turn around and go back into the desert...

    Have you ever thought for a second how Moshe Rabbeinu felt?! When Moshe Rabbeinu watched those people slandering the land, and Yehoshua and Kalev defending it, Moshe Rabbeinu knew it was trouble, not only for those that slandered but for the whole nation as a whole. 

    The years of the work that he has put in, were crumbling right in front of his eyes. His dream to go into Eretz Yisrael, and to serve Hashem in the Holy Land was being taken away from him - right there in the broad daylight.

    Have you ever had that feeling? You worked on something for years and suddenly it is being taken away from you by some evildoers and by circumstances where you have no control over.

    Not a good feeling. 

    But, let's look into it from a different angle. 

    There's a mitzvah which is hard to understand and makes one wonder why Hashem has given it to us, but maybe in the light of the above explanation it will start making more sense.

    There are many explanations to the mitzvah of Shiluach haKen, but I would like to take Zohar's explanation and expand on that. The Zohar says that this mitzvah is meant to awaken and intensify Hashem’s mercy on His creations. The pain which the mother bird suffers when she is sent away and forced to abandon her young "awakens the forces of mercy in the world" and releases an outpouring of mercy from the Heavens above which alleviates all kinds of human suffering. 

    With your permission I would like to add to the above. 

    Not to go into the details of the mitzvah but to touch a bit upon it in general, if you ever performed that mitzvah - that feeling you left with after completing it, is not enjoyable. Besides the fact that you have made the mitzvah, you are left with an egg, and left the bird feeling bad - very bad. You have taken her egg or a chick and created that void in the heart of the bird - you have broken her hopes of building a family, and ruined her plans for a "bright birdie future".

    And here Hashem comes and gives us this, as a mitzvah.

    Moshe Rabbeinu worked hard in his 80s dealing with the nation, which was not easy to deal with. A stubborn nation with lots of demands and quarrels. On top of it, the leaders that worked under him ideally had to be on the same page with him, but for some reason had their own agenda which he never agreed on or was aware of. All this brought to one result - that generation never made it to Eretz Yisrael, Moshes' goal crumbled, and he had to witness the passing of all the males ages 20 and up. 

    The meraglim didn't just destroy the dream of that generation, they also destroyed the dream of Moshe Rabbeinu, they brought suffering to our nation till today, and they have totally changed the plans for the nation, and everything unfolded not as Hashem has envisioned.

    So, Torah tells us to go ahead and do the mitzvah, and to go through that uncomfortable feeling and to let it sink in - feel that bitterness of the committed act.

    When we send away the mother bird and take her egg - it may seem, like the meraglim behaved back in the day towards the nation, when they went to Eretz Yisrael, and brought back the bad report that caused a lot of people to suffer - and here we are, taking away the eggs from the shooed away mother bird thus causing her pain and suffering.

    As for the mother bird - whatever she is going through, it is like the feeling of what Moshe Rabbeinu and millions of other people not privy to the scheme of the meraglim felt - betrayal of the assigned mission, and shattering of the dream of entering the Eretz Yisrael

    And as we stand there with an egg in our hands, we need to understand one thing - whatever we do or say in our life, may be breaking the Divine law and order and hurting a lot of people around us - whether intentionally or unintentionally just by giving in to our biased desires and calculations as was with the case of the meraglim.

    Armed with the above understanding, it should bring us to pray to Hashem and to ask for forgiveness for the sin of the Meraglim, and for that whole generation. This would be the perfect time to ask for forgiveness for our own miscalculations, where we thought and said not in the best of intentions.  And this would be the best time to ask for forgiveness for our nation as a whole, and to ask for the full redemption and reunification with that passed on generation, so we can meet with Moshe Rabbeinu and other members of our nation of the past who were not able to enter the Land, due to the bad schemes of others.

    By fulfilling this mitzvah, one is rewarded with marriage, children, and a new home. But most importantly we are taking responsibility for the wrong committed in the past by others, by actively fixing the sin of the past which brings Hashem's mercy onto this world, that stops human suffering and brings the redemption closer.

    Shmuel Katanov

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  • Why men are obligated to light the Chanukah candles?

    In the story of Chanukah, when the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem, they entered the Temple and cleared off all the idols that were placed there by the army of Antiochus. When they wanted to light the menorah, they found only a small jug of pure olive oil bearing the seal of the Rabbi Yochanan Cohen Hagadol. It was sufficient to light only for one day. By a miracle of Hashem, it continued to burn for eight days, till new oil was made available. That miracle proved that Hashem had again taken His people under His protection. In memory of this, our sages appointed these eight days for annual thanksgiving and for lighting candles.

    Chachamim z"l tell us that the Second Temple was destroyed for only one sin - Sinat Chinam - Baseless Hatred. Only one sin brought down the House of G-d, and I believe we are still battling with it till today. There's no unity, and plenty of lashon hara, dislike and ill-will floating between the communities and between people. I believe that the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash is the sin of the men - this is something we as men are responsible for. 

    That's why the obligation to light the Chanukah menorah lies on men and we have eight days to do it - in our own homes, each one no matter what part of the world he is in, or what the situation he may be in. In addition the Sages say that there's a segulah, to look at the burning candles and hopefully this will give us the chidushim or the new understandings in the Torah. But maybe it could also mean, that we should look at the candles and ponder - how can we fix the situation of the divisiveness, the hatred and the distancing between the communities and the people. We got whole eight days to do the pondering,  and the rest of the year to carry out the plan. If anyone can do it, then it is us - men.

    Since the destruction of the Second Temple, Hashem has no home to reside in, the Shechina is in exile, the nation is spread around the world, there are plenty of problems in the families, in the nation, and the world as a whole. 

    Perhaps, this is the time we say: We had enough of it?!

    Perhaps, this is the time to approach this consciously?!

    Either, we can keep on lighting our menorahs for years to come - in exile and in our warm homes, distanced from each other, comfortable and in disagreements, or we put our egos aside, make up with each other, unite as a nation and light the Golden Menorah next year in the House of Hashem - our own Bet Hamikdash Shlishi?!!

    Shmuel Katanov

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  • Modesty or The Holy Scroll

    Modesty or Tzeniut... When one hears either one of these words, the first thing that usually comes to one’s mind is: Oh come on! Do I really have to wear all that? It is so hot outside, I feel so layered up, like an onion... There are lots of excuses one can come up with, but allow me to show you the outcome of either of the choices one decides to make.

    I looked up the word Modesty in the dictionary and this is what I have found: Modesty, is a mode of dress which intends to avoid the encouraging of sexual attraction in others. The word "modesty" comes from the Latin word modestus which means "keeping within measure". 

    The word Tzniut means: it describes both the character trait of modesty and discretion, as well as a group of Jewish laws pertaining to conduct. In modern times, the term has become more frequently used with regard to the rules of dress for women within Judaism.

    The Sages say, if woman keeps the laws of modesty as a reward she will merit to marry a Cohen and have Cohanim Gedolim come from her, she will have children that may be Jewish judges, sages, scholars, and righteous people and so much more and all of this just by being modest.

    But what is it about modesty that so much can be gained from it?

    In the book called Power Points by Rabbi Ephraim Nissenbaum, there's a story in Parashat Nasso, of a young woman that became observant and was bothered that Jews made a lavish Bar Mitzvahs for boys, while for girls - the Bat Mitzvah passes unnoticed.

    So she asked her Rav. To which he replied, "The Vilna Gaon says that tzeniut or modesty is to a woman what Torah study is to a man, meaning it is her vehicle for spiritual growth. When a boy becomes 13 years old, he is counted as part of the minyan and is being called to the Torah. These are public events and the celebration is therefore public as well.

    When a girl reaches bat mitzvah, her defining moment is marked by an image of royalty through modesty. So with this spirit of modesty, her celebration is less public and more reserved."

    An image of royalty - this is a great way of looking at it, but I believe there are could be more to it.

    The Sages compare a woman to a Sefer Torah scroll. Since the Sefer Torah is holy and valuable, we dress it beautifully and hide it in a safe box or the Aron. And not only that, if any of the letters in the scroll are missing or broken, the whole scroll becomes invalid or not kosher.

    But what is the scroll made out of? It is made of the skin of a kosher animal - klaf and the sofer - the person who writes it, writes it in holiness and while meditating on the names of G-d.

    In the Midrash Tanchuma, Bereshit 1 it says: How was the Torah written? It was written with letters of black fire on a surface of white fire or black ink against the white parchment. 

    The black fire on white fire, I believe there are could be more to it.

    We can literally compare them to a married couple - a woman as white fire and man as a black fire.

    Just like in the Torah, if the letter is broken or fallen from its original place, the scroll becomes invalid, so is the woman, if she is dressed immodestly not according to the Jewish law, that makes her lose that energy or her white fire.

    But, what is this energy or the white fire?

    In Bereshit 2:24 it says: "עַל־כֵּן֙ יַֽעֲזָב־אִ֔ישׁ אֶת־אָבִ֖יו וְאֶת־אִמּ֑וֹ וְדָבַ֣ק בְּאִשְׁתּ֔וֹ וְהָי֖וּ לְבָשָׂ֥ר אֶחָֽד׃ - Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh." What happens when the two of them become one flesh? Once the man and the woman are united in holy act when allowed according to the Jewish law, this is when they combine their energies or their fires - black fire and the white fire, and this is when the Presence of Hashem comes and lives in their home, thus helping them grow in their holiness.

    When woman dresses immodestly, she looses her energy or her white fire, which in turn causes her to lose her holiness. This causes the couple to get distracted from serving Hashem and their goals switch from spiritual to physical, but this is not the only loss. This distraction causes all the members of the family to weaken from serving G-d  and makes them slowly move further and further away from Him. Since when she is together with her husband, he cannot cling to her, and they cannot become one flesh - thus they lose out in this world and the next. This is when the issues of Shalom Bayit and other problems arise.

    When woman keeps the laws of Modesty, she becomes a holy parchment - the white fire, a man becomes the black fire or the black ink, when they are together in the holy act, the couple becomes a Holy Letter of the Torah - with their children around them as crowns on that letter written on the holy parchment

    As the families all around the world strengthen in their modesty, they slowly grow in their holiness, Hashem handpicks them to be part of his own Sefer Torah - The Living and Breathing Sefer Torah. These holy couples, keep the laws of modesty and the laws of Torah - either from birth, or by returning to their roots later on in their lives, thus they become part of the Holy Scroll of Hashem. And if little is revealed by the woman in immodest way, that letter loses its place in the Holy Scroll of Hashem, but not only the woman looses its place - the whole family is affected by it as well.

    In the Megilat Ruth 2:5 says, "וַיֹּ֤אמֶר בֹּ֙עַז֙ לְנַעֲר֔וֹ הַנִּצָּ֖ב עַל־הַקּֽוֹצְרִ֑ים לְמִ֖י הַנַּעֲרָ֥ה הַזֹּֽאת׃ - Boaz said to the servant who was in charge of the reapers: Whose girl is that? Rashi explains, To whom does this maiden belong. What did Boaz see in Ruth? He saw her modest and wise behavior, how she was picking up the stalks of wheat in order not to bend over and did it in modest way by sitting."

    This act alone, led to her marriage with Boaz - thus paving the way for a royal lineage to come from her - King David, King Shlomo and long awaited Mashiach himself, and all of this because of her modesty.

    But let's look at this from yet another angle. 

    It is written in the Torah, "The Israelites journeyed from Raamses to Succoth, about 600,000 men on foot, aside from children." (Shemot 12:37) They all traveled with their wives and children, and as it says in the Masechet Sotah 11B, "Rav Avira taught: In the merit of the righteous women that were in that generation, the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt."

    Also, the word "ישראל - Israel" can be read as an acronym for "Yesh Shishim Ribo Otiot LaTorah", meaning: "There are 600,000 letters in the Torah." Therefore, nation of Israel did not leave Egypt until there were 600,000 holy couples that were included in Hashem's Sefer Torah.

    So, if the problems come into this world, we have probably fallen from our minimum count of 600,000 families or letters in Hashem's Sefer Torah for modesty - if we improve on this collectively - this can be the answer to solve the current problems the world faces today.

    And as we bring up the numbers to 600,000+ families, this will increase our chances of bringing the redemption closer and finally meeting Mashiach in the near future.

    Shmuel Katanov

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  • Why should I keep Shabbat?

    Shabbat or Shabbos... we heard it so many times, some heard it since birth if they were born into religious home, while others heard it from a friend, on a lecture or read an article about it later on in their life. This is the only question that is being asked most of the time, whether one observes Sabbath... when one is about to be hired, looking for a shidduch or some other important matter, but what is it? Why such importance is placed on this one day of the week? There are books and books written on this subject and if you search the Internet, there are literally thousands of lectures on importance of keeping Shabbat and its laws. So let's look into it closely, maybe we can understand it better...

    The first time we see the mention of Shabbat is when Moshe Rabbeinu received the Ten Commandments. G-d said: "Remember Shabbat day and keep it Holy". 

    So, what Shabbat is all about?

    A person is not allowed to do the 39 melachot or types of work on Shabbat, according to the Mishkan's activities with which they are associated.

    The commandment of Shabbat is a sign between us and Hashem for generations to come, when one day of the week we unplug ourselves from mundane, and plug ourselves or shall I say flood our life with holy energy of Shabbat for one day of the week that lasts until the next week Shabbat comes around. 

    But I believe there's more to it, so please allow me to offer my explanation.

    When woman lights the Shabbat candles, the Shabbat starts. Men go to shule for prayers, the table is set and everyone is in great mood. This is when the table is set with beautiful tablecloth, and set with fine silverware. The feeling of holiness is in the air. The food is extra delicious, there are more dishes taken out and in overall it feels extra special. Kids are sitting around the table, everyone singing, talking the words of Torah and simply enjoying each other's company. There's a feeling of harmony, and oneness in the family, love and comradery. This is the time when the family bonds and the ties of love between all the members of the family become stronger.

    Suddenly, one member of the family gets up from the table and sits on the sofa, reaches out for the remote control and turns on the TV...and BOOM - all the magic suddenly disappears, the harsh reality of mundane sets in, the voices of the people sitting at the table become louder and louder, the situation switches from the holy to everyday and the feeling of holiness and harmony of Shabbat is no longer there.

    This is how Shabbat is broken. The Holy Books bring some of the harshest punishments to the one that breaks Shabbat, but why go to such extremity? Why is G-d so harsh with the one that breaks Shabbat?

    To answer the question above, we need to look into one incident in the Torah, and hopefully we will be able to look at this with different set of eyes.

    In Sefer Bereshit, G-d created Heaven and Earth, then He created animals, trees, birds, man and everything else to support His creation in the livable conditions, after each day or work He said that - It Was Good - and indeed it was. Everything was simply beautiful, the sky with the birds flying around singing and enjoying life, the land with its animals and greenery, oceans with its creatures and above all there are were Adam with his wife Chava - everything in the Garden of Eden was in harmony and was simply beautiful.

    Suddenly, the Snake comes over to Chava and while Adam was not around, talks her into eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, which she does and then she makes Adam to do the same. And for this, everyone involved were punished. G-d cursed Adam, Chava and a Snake with the harshest curses for breaking His word.

    Since Adam and Chava ate from the Tree of Knowledge, their view of the world has changed in an instant. But more then that, something else has been changed or shall I say got broken. The efforts that G-d put in to create that perfect world that can coexist with its flora and fauna - its harmony and its magic was broken, evaporated, gone and simply faded.

    Murder, rivalry, death, hardships, competition, diseases and more were introduced into the world. We are plagued by this till today and the whole world suffers. Turn on any media outlet and the negative news floods the minds of millions of people daily trying to sway them from spiritual truth and pursuits, we drowning in the lies and it seems that there's no way out. Go out into any social setting, and you'll see lies, slander, murder, and anything bad you can think of is done either openly or stealthily.

    But I believe there's more to the curse of the snake. In Bereshit 3:14 it says: "Then the LORD G-d said to the serpent, Because you did this, More cursed shall you be Than all cattle And all the wild beasts: On your belly shall you crawl And dirt shall you eat All the days of your life."

    In the beginning it may seem that the snake hasn't lost much, but the Sages say the real curse was that snake was walking like a human being in an upright position, but after the curse he has lost his limbs, thus had to crawl on its belly and eat the dust, which is plenty and all around him. He also lost the ability to pray or be heard by G-d, this ability has been taken away from him no matter the situation he may be in.

    When person breaks Shabbat, he breaks the harmony of that day, he breaks the flow of the holy energy, he breaks the ancient creation, and draws more of that negative energy into this world, thus continuing the work of the snake. That is why Masechat Chulin 5A says, that he deliberately takes himself out of the covenant and sets himself apart from the nation - where he is considered to be like a non Jew. By breaking Shabbat, it opens the door to more transgressions, at which point they are committed without a second thought.

    I believe we can even go further and say, that just like the snake lost his limbs, so is the person's spiritual limbs on his neshama atrophies so he can't experience the spiritual, and he pursues physical pleasures in this world. He may enjoy wealth and positions in this world since they become more available and abundant to him, because they become easier to acquire than spiritual items which require functional limbs, but he also loses the opportunity to have a relationship with G-d, and gets paid for any of the outstanding merits and good he may have done over the years in this world to enjoy his life, until he is ready to part with this world.

    When a Jew dies, it is said in the Holy Books, that so and so is joined to his nation, his neshama is joined with his parents, grandparents and so on all the way to the forefathers, but not so with the one that breaks the Shabbat, he is not joined to his nation and his soul goes to a different place not where all the Jews are going, the cleansing process of the soul is longer, and when the time of resurrection comes, he won’t be joining his nation, since he is not part of the Jewish nation and his soul is lost forever.

    By breaking Shabbat we are breaking away from our people, thus making ourselves an outsider not only to the religion, but to the G-d, to the nation, to the future redemption and vulnerable to the outside events and turmoil of the everyday life.

    Our passed on parents, grandparents and the ones before them all the way to our forefathers are praying that we will make the right choice and embrace the covenant so we stay together after our passing as a nation.

    The Sages say that this world is like a hallway before the Grand Ballroom. In order to get to the main room we need to pass through the hallway, make ourselves look presentable - by toiling in Torah and mitzvot - in order not to be ashamed in front of others that have passed before us, and not to shame our relatives because we lack in front of others present in the ballroom.

    But, what should we do, if Shabbat was not on our To Do list as a major and important item? Start today, and keep some of it or all of it, and you will see how your life will change. Make an opening in your heart and let G-d enter and fill your heart, and let the blessings overflow into every area of your life. And when you do that, that's when your spiritual limbs will heal and get stronger and you will be able to easily grow and prosper in the spiritual domain. As it is says in the Devarim 4:4 "וְאַתֶּם֙ הַדְּבֵקִ֔ים בַּיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֑ם חַיִּ֥ים כֻּלְּכֶ֖ם הַיּֽוֹם׃ - While you, who held tight to the LORD your G-d, are all alive Today." With the turmoil that's going on in the world today, you can hold tight, only if your spiritual limbs are intact and strong.

    So, why should we keep Shabbat? Because life is full of vanities as was told by Shlomo HaMelech, it is full of things that make noise but have no base and no real value. Loyalty to G-d, and to the generations of the past, and loyalty to your own nation - this is something worth living for, everything else is just a fading noise which is not worth pursuing.

    Shmuel Katanov

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