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Olelot Ephraim: Shabbat I: The Past: God’s Existence & The Creation

The 7th of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shlomo Ephraim of Luntchitz, author of Kli Yakar and Olelot Ephraim: Observance of Shabbat is the foundation of three principles, past, present, and future: Of the past; God’s creation of the world. In the future; the World to Come. In the present; Torah study.


We can find each of these three in a discussion in the Talmud: “If you restrain your foot because it is Shabbat; refrain from accomplishing your own needs on My holy day; if you proclaim the Shabbat a ‘delight,’ and the holy day of God, ‘honored,’ and you honor it by not engaging in your own affairs, from seeking your own needs or discussing the forbidden (Isaiah 58:13).”

“And you honor it,” that your Sabbath garments should not be like your weekday garments, as Rabbi Yochanan called his garments ‘My honorers.’

“By not engaging in your own affairs,” that your walking on the Sabbath shall not be like your walking on weekdays.

“From seeking your own needs,” your needs are forbidden, the needs of Heaven, religious matters, are permitted. “Or discussing the forbidden,” that your speech and conversation on Shabbat should not be like your speech on weekdays. ‘Speaking’: speech is forbidden, but thought about mundane matters is permitted. (Shabbat 113a)

God’s existence and His creation of the World:

“Your walking on the Sabbath shall not be like your walking on weekdays.”

The Talmud associates certain forms of walking with “pushing away the legs of the Divine Presence: ‘Nor should he carry himself with an arrogant bearing;’ since a Master has said: If one walks with an arrogant bearing even for four cubits, it is as if he pushed against the heels of the Divine Presence, since it is written, “The whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3).” [Berachot 43b]

Only God may have such pride, as the verse says, “God will have reigned, He will have donned grandeur (Psalms 93:1).” A person who acts arrogantly, as if he has grandeur, is considered to have pushed God’s Presence out of his way.

This is probably the intention of the Sages when they taught, “Long strides diminish a man’s eyesight by a five-hundredth part. What is the remedy? He can restore it with [drinking] the Kiddush wine of Sabbath eve (Berachot 43b).”

How would drinking Shabbat Kiddush wine restore his vision? The Talmud teaches, “Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: Whoever is boastful, if he is a Sage. his wisdom departs from him; if he is a prophet, his prophecy departs from him (Pesachim 66b).” Arrogance diminshes one’s intellectual vision, based on the verse, “A person’s soul is God’s candle,” and, “The candle of a Mitzvah, and the light of Torah.” The double mention of ‘candle,” Ner, [“nun = 50 & Resh = 200] totals 500, and one who is arrogance pushes away the “candles” of his soul and Mitzvah, or, as the Sages put it; one five-hundredth of his eyesight.

When a person recites Kiddush, and reconnects to God’s Being and His Creation, he sheds his arrogance, and drinking the Kiddush wine, “restores his vision.” He begins to walk differently on Shabbat than he does during the week.

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