Sunday, November 12, 2006

Daf Yomi - Beitzah 16 - The Neshamah Yeseira, a partnership of body and soul

From Shabbos: Taam HaChaim Noach 5765. For more inspirational thoughts on Shabbos and other topics, please visit
Parashas Noach is replete with references to Shabbos. The Zohar states that the name Noach itself signifies Shabbos. In a sense, the flood brought Shabbos to the world, similar to Shemitah, the sabbatical year when the land rests. When the Ark came to rest, it is said: ותנח התבה בחדש השביעי בשבעה עשר יום לחדש על הרי אררט, and the Ark came to rest in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. The word seven, alluding to Shabbos, is mentioned twice in this verse. After Noach left the Ark, Hashem said: עד כל ימי הארץ זרע וקציר וקר וחם וקיץ וחרף ויום ולילה לא ישבתו, continuously, all the days of the earth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. The Gemara derives from this verse that a gentile who observes the Shabbos is liable the death penalty. What is the meaning of all these references to Shabbos?The Sfas Emes explains that just like Noach inside the Ark was protected from the elements, similarly a Jew can take refuge from the workweek on Shabbos, by resting in the Divine Presence. On Shabbos, the Sfas Emes writes, one rests from work and this offers freedom for the soul. Nonetheless, a person was created to perfect the soul, and the body and the soul perfoming deeds in unison accomplish this. This partnership allows the Jew to merit the נשמה יתירה, the extra soul, on Shabbos. Similarly, although Noach was protected inside the Ark, the Medrash states that Noach requested that Hashem free him from confinement, in order that he could perfect his soul. Through the efforts one exerts to vanquish the Evil Inclination and the forces of materialism, one can earn the reward of Shabbos, which is true rest from the physical world and its struggles.