Eikev – What’s Good About Shabbos?

This week’s Torah portion of Eikev begins, “This shall be the reward when you hearken to these ordinances and you observe and perform them; Hashem, your G-D, will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers ” (Devarim 27:12).
 In the first medrish in the Medrish Rabba on this portion Hashem asserts: “‘Do you think I gave to you Shabbos as a detriment? I only gave it to you for your own good.’ How? Rebbe Chiya bar Abba said [that Hashem says], ‘You sanctify the Shabbos with eating and drinking, wearing clean clothes and delighting your soul; and I will give you reward.’ How do we know this? Because the pasuk in Yeshayahu (58:13) says ‘And you call the Shabbos a delight…’ What is written after that (58:14)? ‘Then you will delight on Hashem.’ ‘And he will give to you whatever your heart desires’ (Tehillim 37:4). The Jews said to Hashem, ‘When will you give us our reward for the mitzvos that we do?’ Hashem said back to them, ‘You will now eat from the fruit of the mitzvos that you do but it’s reward will be saved for the future in the World to Come and will be given to you then.’ How do we know this? From the fact that we call it in this portion, in this circumstance, ‘This shall be your reward when you hearken to these ordinances'” (Devarim Rabba 3:1). (Click here for Hebrew text.)
 Why would Shabbos be a detriment to us? And in Hashem’s response, what does it mean that ‘we will eat the fruit of the mitzvah now? ‘
 The Maharz”u has two ways to understand why people would think Shabbos is a detriment:
1. “[Hashem admits], It is suffering for you, for I forbade you any form of melacha (work that was done to build the mishkan) and business, as well as kindling and putting out a fire to the extent that even if an entire house is ablaze (assuming that it is a situation which is non-life threatening) it is still forbidden to put out the fire. To this [Hashem] says that the reward is much greater than the loss, for the loss is occasionally and very little and the reward is constant and in abundance.
What does it mean that the reward is constant?

The Maharz”u explains that the delight one will get from enjoying and observing Shabbos is that Hashem will always listen when this person cries out to Him. The Maharz”u proves this from pesukim in Iyov. Now we can understand what the fruit of performing the mitzvos in this world is and why it is constant. Imagine, just for observing Hashem’s Shabbos and enjoying it by eating fancy food and drinking delicious drinks while getting all dressed up, Hashem will always listen to your prayers when you cry out to Him. That is quite impressive fruit coming from your mitzvah on a consistent basis!

Somehow, this overshadows the circumstances when the house is burnt down and one loses all his possessions, and the many times when people lost their job and livelihood for the sake of Shabbos observance; why? Furthermore, the inconveniences that make the day harder, less comfortable, or supposedly not as pleasurable, like not being able to turn on and off lights, drive the car, write, or even choose things the way you want to choose them; why are they really worth it at the end of the day?

However, if one truly contemplates what it means for Hashem to listen to and answer ALL of your prayers in this world, the delight to have an all-powerful, all-knowing being willing to listen to you besides the belief and understanding of the infinite reward in the World To Come, then truly any supposed “detriments” are miniscule and insignificant. The key is that one must contemplate, imagine, and focus on the benefits and believe it is true, for then the detriments are truly insignificant.
 2. The second possible detriment discussed by the Maharz”u is based on a very deep concept found in another medrish (Vayikra Rabba 13:3). “Mitzvos were only given to mankind in order to refine a person, to purify them from evil forces. [One might think] only the mitzvah of Shabbos specifically was not given to purify them from evil for they are commanded to eat, drink and to delight. There is no suffering, affliction, or purification. Not only that but you get rewarded for all the pleasure you have. However, even on Shabbos there is a refinement for one cannot eat whatever he wants just like during the week.”
This explanation is absolutely incredible if you analyze what the Maharz”u is saying! It seems people would think that Shabbos is a detriment, because if you go through all the mitzvos, there is a certain refinement that the mitzva does to a person by needing to abide by certain rules and not being allowed to do whatever one wants. For example, one cannot eat whatever he wants, there is the mitzva of kashrus. One cannot wear whatever he wants, there is the mitzva of shaatnez. Even mitzvos like tefillin have specific rules of where to place them and how to wear them; it can be a pain and a hassle to observe everything. But that was done on purpose by Hashem, to refine the human being from all negative effects inside and around him. Yet one might think that because there is a mitzvah to enjoy oneself on Shabbos then he can do whatever he wants. Eat the fanciest foods, kosher or not, drink the best wines, and wear the fanciest clothing! Imagine having a buttered pork chop, clam chowder, with chocolate mousse for dessert while wearing a Hugo Boss suit which is full of shaatnez! That might sound delicious and fancy (at least to some people), and it might be a great way to observe the mitzva of enjoying and honoring Shabbos; but what a detriment, because it is at the cost of transgressing other sins! Therefore, Hashem says it’s better to observe the rest of my mitzvos properly, as you would during the week, than to honor the Shabbos the best possible way.

Hashem says, “It is the effort that you put into doing things correctly and trying your hardest to produce proper intentions, not to do what you think is the best way to observe the mitzvos of Shabbos. If you listen to My will then I will listen to your prayers plus you will get much reward in the World to Come.”

Bonding with Hashem is the pure essence of Shabbos. Take advantage it has plenty of benefits and is well worth it!

Torah Riddles Test #103

  1. This Question seems to be flawed, there is just an argument between the Har Tzvi and Rav Shlomo Zalman whether an animal can turn on a light for you on shabbos or shut it off, both speak about electric
  2. Question: Why can you teach a watch dog to turn on a light when intruders come even if he will do it on Shabbos but you cannot ask a dog to turn a light on for you on Shabbos?


A. The Har Tzvi (Ohr Hachaim 1:174) says that if one signals to a dog to light a fire or blow it out on Shabbos you are transgressing the mitzvah of resting your animal on Shabbos even if this is an indirect way of turning off the light it is considered a full-fledged melacha because any melacha an animal does is considered its normal way of doing things for them attributed to the owner.

 B.Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shulchan Shlomo 266:1) poskins that if you teach a dog to turn on or off a light switch whenever an intruder comes you are allowed to have the dog outside to do this function on Shabbos because it’s only indirect melacha.

C. Turning on an electric light is indirectly doing a melacha because you are just completing or breaking a circuit to allow the light to go on or off.

D. Dogs don’t have cognitive thinking and melacha needs cognitive thinking for humans to be liable, I.e meleches machsheves.

Answer: It is an abnormal way for a human to use a dog to blow out or light a fire but the way the dog does it is normal for them therefore the owners will be liable for not resting the dog. But completing or breaking the circuit by itself is indirect and is only liable if you have a cognitive intent to perform the act to cause the melacha to be done but since an animal doesn’t have a cognitive thought process and by definition the completing of the circuit is indirect even if the animal’s action is direct the owner would still be exempt. (See Dirshu Mishna Berura 246:3:12:8)

Torah Riddles Test #83

Question: Why aren’t we strict by Shabbos candles to not light from one candle to another just as we are stringent to not light Chanukah candles from one candle to another?


A. The Rema in Orach Chaim 674:1 says we have a custom to be strict by Chanukah candles to not light them from one candle to another since the main mitzvah is with one candle and the rest aren’t totally for the mitzvah (rather only to glorify the mitzvah.)

B. Halachically one only needs one candle for Shabbos candles we light at least two as a reminder of Shamor vizachor, keeping and remembering the Shabbos which refers to the negative and positive mitzvos associated with Shabbos.

C. Shabbos candles were enacted for Shalom Bayis so it would be easy to see in the house and make Shabbos more enjoyable.

D. One can light from one candle to another if there is an equal level of mitzvah for example two roommates on the first night of Chanukah can each light from each other’s candle. 

Answer: Each Shabbos candle makes it brighter in the room and is more directly adding to the mitzvah of delighting in Shabbos so they each have equal Mitzvah status and can light one from the other even though it is enough with one. But by Chanukah there is nothing integrally being enhanced to the mitzvah by each extra candle it is just a way to beautify the mitzvah more by lighting an additional candle each day therefore one shouldn’t light from one candle to the other (See Dirshu footnote 7.)

Torah Riddles Test #82

Question: Why was it considered accepting Shabbos by mistake in a case of a congregation that didn’t get a shofar until a few minutes before sunset and they had davened maariv early and they can blow the minimal amount of shofar blasts but once one lit Shabbos candles before lighting Chanukah candles by accident it is not considered a mistake and he cannot light candles anymore by himself?


A. The scenario of the shofar could be if Rosh HaShana was Thursday/Friday and the shul did not have a shofar. They sent someone to retrieve a shofar from a few towns over and he got delayed and was not showing up. Late Friday afternoon they essentially gave up and davened Kabbalah Shabbos and maariv early sometime between plag hamincha and sunset. Then the guy came with the shofar. The Mishna Berura (600:7) says that if there is no expert shofar blower who has not taken on Shabbos to blow then one who already accepted Shabbos can blow the minimal amount without a blessing. The Taz there says this is because they accepted Shabbos by mistake.

 B. Accepting Shabbos early is essentially making a vow.

Answer: The answer is found in the Responsa Beis Shearim 3:93 in the name of his Rebbe, Rav Pearls who said that the difference is that the obligation for the mitzvah by shofar already existed when they brought in Shabbos and therefore accepting Shabbos was like a vow said by mistake which does not need to be disavowed. But there is no obligation of Chanukah candles until the night time so when she lit Shabbos candles she was not obligated in Chanukah candles yet, if so then even accepting Shabbos was like making a vow by mistake nevertheless it was a mistake that just materialized after the vow was made so it needs a special annulment with an excuse and regret in front of 3 or a sage therefore Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach adds that at that point it is better just to ask someone else to light for you. (See Dirshu footnote 5 here.)

Torah Riddles Test #81

  1. Question: Why can a woman ask someone to light Chanukah candles for her if she forgot and lit Shabbos candles first but she can’t ask someone to make an eruv tavshilin for her if she forgot and already lit Yom Tov candles?


A. The Mishna Berura (679:1:1) says, if a woman is lighting Chanukah candles, since the custom is that we assume she accepts Shabbos as soon as she lights Shabbos candles, then she won’t be able to light Chanukah candles herself, rather she should ask someone else to light for her and he will say the first blessing for her but she can say the second blessing herself.

B. One can’t light fires on Shabbos.

C. There was a decree made that one makes an eruv tavshilin as a means to start cooking for the needs of Shabbos before Yom Tov  which permits one to prepare food on Yom Tov for the next day of Shabbos as if preparations is being done for everything and you would not transgress the prohibition of preparing on Yom Tov for the next day. 


Answer: Once she accepts upon herself Yom Tov by lighting candles then the whole concept of an eruv tavshilin doesn’t apply to her anymore because it only is applicable before Yom Tov starts but by lighting Chanukah candles the only issue is doing a melacha on Shabbos, transgressing Shabbos so someone who has not accepted Shabbos yet can light candles for her. (See Dirshu footnote 4 here.) [/edit]

Torah Riddles Test #60

  1. Question: What is the difference between a Kohen contaminating himself with the dead and anyone breaking Shabbos in terms of the concept of “adding on to the count”?


  1. The Minchas Chinuch (mitzvah 264) says in the name of Tosfos in Brachos 20a that even though a kohen can be spiritually contaminated by the dead body of his close relative but if there are other dead bodies in that house he cannot get out his relative because burial of a relative only pushes off the prohibition of contact with the dead by a kohen. However Rashi holds that the prohibition being in contact with the dead is totally permitted in terms of taking care of a close relative so even if there are other dead bodies in the room it is permitted.
  2. Tosfos said it is forbidden just like cutting off a branch of figs where only one fig is needed to heal a sick person and three are on the branch so you get a prohibition of breaking Shabbos for the other two figs even though they were all on the same branch. Why is Shabbos any different than contact with the dead by a Kohen according to Rashi?
  3. By Shabbos one is liable for each object one does a forbidden act with.

Answer: By Shabbos even though it is one action of cutting off the branch but because it was for 3 different object then the prohibition is attributed to each object as if you did the prohibition 3 times. But once you are tamei, spiritually unclean, that is that, and there is nothing more to add therefore it would make no difference if he came into contact with one or more dead person, so once it is permitted for one it is permitted for all. Parenthetically if a kohen is already in a state of tamei and then later on before being purified he comes in contact again then he does get another sin it is just that at one time since nothing is added when becoming tamei then once it is permitted for his relative then everything else becomes permitted and it is not considered adding unneeded amounts.

Torah Riddles Test #22

  1. Question: Why would you say both the paragraphs for Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh In benching at seuda shlishit if you bentched by night fall of a Shabbos where Rosh Chodesh starts that night but if Purim is on Friday and your Purim seuda runs into Shabbos then you only say the paragraph of Shabbos and not Purim in bentching?


 A. The Mishna Berura in 188:33 says the reason you say both by a Shabbos leading into Rosh Chodesh is because the paragraph for Shabbos is going on the beginning of the meal then we say the paragraph of Rosh Chodesh (or Yom Tov) afterwards which goes on the second half of the meal. However according to that logic you should say both paragraphs when Purim goes into Shabbos?

B. There is a rabbinic concept called Tosefes Shabbos, adding on to the Shabbos before and after.

Answer: On Shabbos going into Rosh Chodesh there is actually additional minutes going into Rosh Chodesh so can say that when bentching it was for one half of the meal and then for the other half because Shabbos could have been pushed off longer to when they were ready to bentch and then it leads into Rosh Chodesh but once nightfall comes Purim is done and over, even if the meal started during the day so when bentching it is only Shabbos therefore only the paragraph of Shabbos is said. (See Dirshu Mishna Berura note 32 in 695:3:15.)

Torah Riddles Test #12

  1. Question: What is the difference between putting a clay vessel in the oven right before Shabbos to finish hardening which Rashi in Shabbos 74b says does not constitute breaking Shabbos under the prohibition of makeh b’patish, i.e. giving the final blow to create an object, since the oven is doing it by itself and you are doing nothing to finish it, whereas the Even Ha’Ozer (Orach Chaim 328) says that putting in wheat kernels to be ground on Shabbos by a mill running on water does constitute breaking shabbos  and is forbidden (according to him on a Torah level and according to the Magen Avraham on a Rabbinic level) even though you aren’t directly grinding, the water is causing the machine to grind for you?


  1. The issue with the melacha of techina/grinding is the action of grinding.
  2. The issue with the melacha of makeh bipatish/doing the final blow is the result of a finished product.

Answer: You are responsible for causing the machine to grind by putting the kernels into the machine for it to be ground by the water since the issue is the action itself which you caused the machine to do so it is directly related to you since caused the water to start the process. Whereas by the clay vessel you just placed the vessel in the oven and the oven finished the job by itself, so since the issue is not the action the oven did but the results that it created then you aren’t directly responsible for what happened.