The Weekly Dvar Torah
Volume I Issue #7b
Eat, Drink and Be Holy
Adapted from the wisdom of Rav Meir Simcha HaCohen of Dvinsk from the Meshech Chochmoh and Rav Tzadok HaCohen from Pri Tzadik and other works.
By Rav Yitzchak Schwartz Rosh Yeshiva Orchos Chaim Jerusalem
Rav Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin suggests an interesting parallelism in this week's parsha. In introducing the law of Parah Adumah the Torah uses the word chok - statute. Shabbos is also referred to as a chok – statute (Mechilta Shmos 15:25). This term is usually associated with commandments that are difficult to understand and have a more esoteric meaning to them. Parah Adumah is the quintessential chok that defies explanation. What we do know about it is that by burning the slaughtered heifer and sprinkling its ashes it somehow purifies one who has become impure through contact with a dead body. However, the Torah's view on death is unique. Death is not inherent to the human experience rather it is a result of the sin that the serpent incited Adam and Chava to transgress. In light of this we can view the mitzvah of parah aduma as a partial remedy for the pernicious results of the sin of Adam and Chava.
Rav Tzadok explains in several places that when Adam and his wife ate the forbidden fruit it created the sensual drive in them and their offspring in all future generations. The drive for physical pleasures is the main force behind man in his pursuit of selfish pleasures, and is the root of all that is wrong and evil in the world. The tikun-rectification of that problem is addressed in the mitzvah of seudos Shabbos. The Shabbos meals are the antidote for the original sin of Adam and Chava. We eat and enjoy because of the mitzvah that Hashem gave us. In fulfilling this delicious mitzvah we slowly but surely remove the blemish that the serpent affixed to mankind. We enjoy our food and drink, not out of egocentric lust, but out of a sense of sacred commitment to Hashem's commandments. Our physical pleasures are no longer an act of hedonism. Instead, through the mitzvah of oneg Shabbos we transform them into the most elevated and sacred of activities. Every Shabbos meal is a major event that carries with it remarkable power that can change the very nature of our lives. The Shabbos meals increase our holiness. The word chok also means to engrave. The Shabbos meals, when eaten in the true spirit of Shabbos, engrave and infuse our hearts with sanctity and purity. The cause of death in the world was egocentric lust; the remedy is to elevate our pleasures to a level that transcends self-centeredness. The esoteric messages of parah adumah and the Shabbos meal are essentially the same. They teach us that we need to move beyond the self-centered pleasure seeking that afflicts mankind. These two mitzvos help us deal with the problem that we inherited as a result of the sin of Adam and Chava and focus our energies beyond our egocentric selves. May we all merit genuine oneg Shabbos, and do not forget to enjoy the Shabbos meals!
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