Shabbos Parashas Tazria

As we have noted before, parashas Tazria begins with a description of the laws of a woman who gave birth, which prompts the Midrash, and thus the Maggid also, to present some teachings relating to the role of man. We present here a selection from the Maggid’s discourses on this topic.
In connection with Tehillim 92, the psalm for Shabbos, the Midrash expounds (Yalkut Shimoni, Nach 843):
It is written (Tehillim 92:5): “For You have gladdened me, Hashem, with Your works.” Who led us to feel this joy? It came to us through the merit of the faith that our forefathers maintained regarding this world, that it is completely dark like the night. This it is written (ibid. 92:3): “To recount Your kindnesses in the dawn and Your trustability in the nights.”
We may ask: What does this have to do with Shabbos? We can answer as follows. It is indeed hard to observe Shabbos with its many laws. Nonetheless, since Hashem commanded us to do so, it must be within our ability. For it is written (Devarim 30:11): “For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too hard for you, nor is it far off.” And likewise, Hashem declares (Michah 6:3): “O My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied you? Answer me!” However, to make himself amenable to observing Shabbos, a person must gain a firm grasp of two basic principles.
First, he must realize that wealth and possessions do not come to him through own efforts, but rather they are a kindness that Hashem bestows on him. And nothing prevents Hashem from bringing us salvation, irrespective of how much or little effort we invest toward this goal. When a person instills within himself a firm awareness of this fact, he will readily choose repose over labor. For will know that if Hashem wishes that he be successful, He can grant him blessing even without effort on his part. In Mishlei 10:22 it is written: “Hashem’s blessing brings wealth, and toil adds nothing thereto.” And the Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah 11:1 links this statement to Shabbos. For Shabbos brings blessing to one who observes it properly. But if a person does not recognize that Hashem is the source of all blessing, he cannot be serene on Shabbos, for he thinks that acquiring worldly assets depend on his own effort, and on Shabbos he must refrain from work.
Second, a person must realize that worldly assets and pleasures are vain, with no real substance. A person gains nothing of lasting value through worldly pursuits. Thus Iyov declares (Iyov 1:21): “Naked did I emerge from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there.” When a person instills this principle in his heart, he will attain the level of the Jews who left Egypt, for whom the booty they acquired there was like a burden to them – the Gemara in Berachos 9b teaches that they collected this booty against their will. And then he will be pleased with Shabbos: He will enjoy the repose and yearn for the future day that is all Shabbos, and his rest will be the consummate rest that Hashem desires [cf. the Minchah Amidah of Shabbos].
This is the idea behind the psalm for Shabbos. The psalmist declares (Tehillim 92:2-3):
It is good to thank Hashem and sing praise to Your Name, O Exalted One. To recount Your “To recount Your kindnesses in the dawn and Your trustability in the nights.”
Even though it seems far removed from us to sing and find joy in the cessation from work on Shabbos, nonetheless it is fitting to thank Hashem and sing praise to His Name on account of His having legislated for us this day of rest. And in order for us to appreciate Shabbos, we need only bear in mind two concepts: (1) Hashem’ kindness – that everything we have comes to us only through His kindness, and (2) Hashem’s trustability regarding the fact that our world that is, as the Midrash says, completely dark like the night – it is a world filled with empty vanities. David HaMelech declares (Tehillim 19:8): “The testimony of Hashem is trustworthy, making the simple wise.” Initially, we must accept on faith the teaching of our Torah leaders that this world is vain, even before our intellect brings us to this conclusion. If we do so, then afterward our hearts will also grasp it. But if we have no faith at the start, in the end we will have no understanding.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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