Friday, January 12, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 5 - Yaakov lives on by Reb Ben

In this weeks parashah the Torah records the demise of Yaakov. Yet, the Gemara informs us that Yaakov never died. How is this to be understood? It is fascinating once again that Yaakov is the symbol of Shabbos. It is said: כי ששת ימים עשה ה' את השמים ואת הארץ וביום השביעי שבת וינפש, in a six­-day period Hashem made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. The Gemara states that the word וינפש, and was refreshed, is an acrostic for the words וי נפש, woe to the soul. When Shabbos ends, a person loses the extra soul that he received at the onset of Shabbos. The obvious question that has been raised numerous times is why do we learn that a Jew has an extra soul on Shabbos in a seemingly negative context? Would it have not been preferred to teach us that a Jew has an extra soul from a verse that describes the beauty and holiness of Shabbos? The answer to this question is alluded to in the statement that Yaakov never died. Certainly the Torah records his death to inform us that Yaakov died and was buried in the physical sense. However, it is specifically said regarding Yaakov that when the righteous person departs from a locale, the shine, the glory, and the splendor depart with him. This teaches us how to value a gift. Were the Torah to inform us in a different context that a Jew receives an extra soul at the onset of Shabbos, we may view the gift as a luxury but not as a necessity. As the expression goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” When Yaakov leaves the town, the shine, glory and splendor that Yaakov reflects departs with him. When Yaakov dies, the righteous person has departed, and we have become bereft of that special gift that the righteous person offers. Similarly, when Shabbos comes to an end, we experience that feeling of missing something. Bearing this idea in mind, we should realize how fortunate we would be if we were to use every minute of Shabbos to its maximum potential.
Read more inspiring thoughts about Yaakov and Shabbos at