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Parshas Chayei Sarah - Shabbos Project, Pittsburgh & Connecting to Hashem

By R' Shaya Gross, z'l

Posted on 11/01/18

[Ed. Note] Out of the respect and recognition of the impact made by longtime BJL friend and contributor, Reb Shaya Gross, z’l, we will maintain a living memoriam to Shaya through the sweet words and thoughtful insights of  his Divrei Torah. BJL readers will remember his weekly column on the Parsha and on various Torah ideas and concepts. These meaningful words will help us remember this special young man who will be sorely missed and for those who did not merit to know him, this will be the most appropriate way for them to become familiar with who he was.


Yitzchak Avinu corresponds to the Mitzva of Avodah [prayer], which is the connection between man and G-d. Yitzchak specialized in a direct and real relationship with Hashem. In fact, the Torah says that Yitzchak went out 'lasuach bisadeh,' to 'talk to Hashem in the field.' The root of this word, lasuach, is 'seecha,' which generally refers to idle talk or ‘shmoozing.' The Pasuk is teaching us that Yitzchak's shmoozing was with Hashem! He had such a real and direct relationship with Hashem that even his regular shmoozing was with Hashem. 


Using the above p'shat, we can now understand why Rivka fell off the camel when she saw Yitzchak. Rivka saw Yitzchak conversing in the field with Hashem, and she was in awe to see someone who had such a genuine direct relationship with Hashem. [I heard most of the above concerning Yitzchak from my dear friend Rav Yonah YITZCHAK Sklare.] 


Perhaps this is why Mincha is the one tefillah of the day where one can just begin Shemoneh Esray, without any lengthy preparations. This is in contrast with Shacharis and Maariv where we daven Kriyas Shema and Brachos before Shemoneh Esray, and we are forbidden to talk before starting Shemoneh Esray, even to remind people to say Mashiv Haruach and the like. At Mincha though, one is allowed to talk before starting Shemoneh Esray and there is no lengthy preparation. Why not?


Perhaps because Mincha corresponds to Yitzchak Avinu, so at Mincha time we can tap into Yitzchak's strength of being so connected to Hashem that we can go straight into the tefila. We don’t need any introductions and Brachos to get us into the tefila mode, because as descendants of Yitzchak we have his strength at this time of day to go straight into a conversation with Hashem!


{A note from Baruch Leib Gross: For the past week, I have been struggling with a paradox I would like to share with you. 
Last Shabbos was unfortunately a Shabbos that will be remembered by many as the Shabbos where eleven of our own brothers and sisters were murdered in Pittsburgh for no other reason other than for the fact that they were Jewish. 

On that same Shabbos, over a million Jews across the world celebrated Shabbos together as part of the Shabbos Project. Some experienced the beauty of Shabbos that they haven't experienced since their youth while others tasted for their first time what it means to keep Shabbos. What a special experience!

As we are keenly aware, nothing happens by coincidence. Hashem has a time and reason for everything that happens in this world. Going forward, we must try to understand what message Hashem is sending us, that while some of our brothers and sisters were experiencing perhaps one of the most beautiful and uplifting shabbasos of their lives, others of our brothers and sisters were so brutally murdered Al Kiddush Hashem.

Perhaps, Hashem is sending us a message that our Shabbos needs improvement. It is wonderful that over a million of our fellow brethren, many of whom did not keep Shabbos as it is supposed to be kept, experienced a true Shabbos experience last week. 

However, maybe Hashem is telling us that that is not enough! We have to look at our own Shabbos and see how we celebrate Shabbos. Are we doing it with the spirit of Shabbos of how Hashem is proud of what we do on Shabbos or are we just keeping Shabbos in the aspect of keeping the rules to it's bare minimum? 

Do we sanctify Shabbos or do we keep Shabbos?

Perhaps this is something that we could work on; to intrespect and to look at our Shabbos and see in what ways we can improve the holiness of our Shabbos and in that way ultimately merit to see the coming of Moshiach with the rebuilding of our Holy Temple very soon.

Have an inspiring and rejuvenating Shabbos!}