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Shabbat Themes-Vayikra-Sod HaShabbat

Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose ben Zimra: “If one keeps a fast on the Shabbat, a decree of seventy years standing against him is annuled: turned from evil to good.” Rabbi Nachman ben Isaac said, “Yet all the same he is punished for neglecting to make the Shabbat a delight. What is the remedy? Let him keep another fast to atone for this one (Berachot 31b).”


Out of God’s love for him, a person is alerted in a dream. Through it he may turn in repentance, so that compassion may be sought for him, on high. Woe to the person who is not warned. Of him, it is said, “One who rests satisfied and is not visited is in a dream evil (Proverbs 19:23).”

Rabbi Chisdah said, “Providing it is on that very day,” and not thereafter. For the dominion of a Day does not extend to another. A Day can only request compassion on behalf of that which occurred on it. Therefore, a Day does not leave until the dream’s decree has been annulled, through fasting thereon. However, “a decree of seventy years” cannot be abrogated through fasting, except on the Shabbat.

The reason the text states, “And even on the Shabbat,” is that one is attended to by Providence more closely on that day, and the dream–faster more so than other people. For on the Shabbat rest and joy filled the world; on this day even the sinners in Gehinnom rest. So when this one sits in sorrow, all those on high inquire after him, asking, “why is this one grieving when the whole world is rejoicing?” This one’s prayer ascends to the Compassionate One, Who annuls the decree which had been approved by the celestial Court, the mystery of the Seventy Places. For when the Supernal Light is disclosed, the gates of Compassion open and the entire cosmos is gladdened. The forces of Judgment cower before Him.

To what may this be likened? To a King who married off his son and enjoined all his subjects to rejoice. All were indeed joyous except for one man who was bound in chains and was sad. When the king arrived to regale his son, he saw that everyone was rejoicing. But when he lifted his eyes, he saw that sad faced man bound in chains. The king said, “All my subjects are rejoicing in my son’s time of joy, while this one is bound in chains.” Straightway, he ordered that the man be released. Thus, the Talmud states, “A decree of seventy years standing against him is annulled,” esoterically referring to the seventy supernal Years, the mystery of the celestial Court.

“Yet all the same he is punished for neglecting to make the Shabbat a delight.” Why? Because the portion of the spirit that the descends to experience pleasure with Israel, below, is not properly completed; it ascends less fulfilled than the portion partaking of the Supernal Delight. Because the portion below is not completed neither is the one above, for the one depends on the other. Since this person causes a diminution on high, he is subject to punishment. Thus, the Talmud continues, “What is the remedy? Let him keep another fast to atone for this one.”

Concerning this matter, the Rabbis explained that one need not fast immediately thereafter, on Sunday. But hearken unto the truth, as it was received by those who “beheld the King’s face (Esther 1:14),” and stood in His innermost chamber! Know that one who fasts on the Shabbat does away with the Supernal Delight. He violates the territory of the Community of Israel which holds sway on this sacred day.

Should this person take delight immediately thereafter, on Sunday, when the Profane Days hold sway, he would be according greater honor to The Other Side than he did to the Holy One, Blessed is He. He would be denigrating the mystery of Holy Faith, while enhancing the external entities. Concerning this, Scripture says, “Say not, I will enhance Evil (Proverbs 20:23).” For this sin he will be called to account in this world and the World to Come.

Therefore, one must fast immediately after Shabbat, on Sunday, when the Profane Spirit holds away. Since the aspect of Good was not enhanced, neither should the aspect of Evil. This second fast provides healing, as is indicated in the verse in this week’s portion, Vayikra, “He shall restore that which he took away by robbery (Leviticus 5:23).” Thereafter, no further punishment may be exacted, but the Holy One may punish him in this world and in the next.

Happy is he who cleaves to the Holy Faith and who strives to always do what is right in his eyes when serving Him; cleaving to Him, as it is said, “but you who did cleave onto God, your Lord, are alive, every one of you, this day (Deuteronomy 4:4).” [Sod haShabbat, Section 17]

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