|Na'aseh V'Nishma: Spiritual Practices & Their Benefits|
|Written by Moshe Tuvia ElAd|
B’Ezrat HaShem Yisborach: You are My witnesses, a guarantee of HaShem Isaiah Chapter 43:10: “Nah’ah’seh v’Neeshmah” Spiritual practices and their benefits: This column will introduce you to various spiritual practices. Some of them can be stated in as little as a single sentence. And yet, the dividends of these practices can be quite large, an encounter with the Infinite even.
The format of the column will be three parts:
Na’ah’seh: the “to-do” part followed by some instruction and explanation
Neeshmah: what one understands from the experiences of doing the “to-do”s
Your feedback: in the form of comments on the column. I ask that you share your own parallel experiences and/or insights from following these practices in the form of public comments on thefoundationstone.org™.
In the prayer book of the Slonimmer Hasidim the following instruction appears at the start of the order of Friday evening Shabbat Kodesh:
The divine Rabbi Isaac Luria, may his memory be a blessing [instructs us]:
When you enter the house say in a loud voice:
SHABBAT SHALOM U’MEVORACH!!!”
Instruction and Explanation:
This should be said when coming home for the evening, i.e., just before the first meal.
Ideally, it is said by the man of the house (and/or the boys together with him) when they return home from Shul Friday night. Ladies, please do not take affront. After reading the whole section I hope the spiritual role playing going on will be clarified.
If for whatever reason a man is not going to go to Shul – let’s say there was an emergency and one worked late or otherwise arrived home just in time for Shabbat – then blast out, “Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach!” right before everyone is called to the table to start the meal by typically singing “Shalom Aleichem” and “Eishet Chayil.”
If there is no man in the house, let’s say he’s away on business, the son(s) should say it.
If no man is present, the woman who is the head of the home should exclaim, “SHABBAT SHALOM U’MEVORACH!” before “Shalom Aleichem.”
Even a single person should shout it out before the meal.
Why should the men say it and not the women typically?
I have taken on a practice of wishing people a good Shabbat with this phrase as well.
In response once, Rabbi Yechiel Bar-Lev posed the following question to me:
Since it is the first time you bless me like this, let me raise a problem:
You say umevorach, which is lashon zachar but shabat is nekeva, should you say umevorechet?
Ask your friends
That is why we say, “Goot Shabes!”
It may be because many early Torah scholars had poor Hebrew or poor Hebrew grammar.
However, if you think of the scene of Shir HaShirim (The Song of Songs chapter 4 verses 2-6) "kol Dodi dofek - Dodi chamak avar" --- then this is the exact opposite!
In that scene, “the Beloved”, G-d, comes to the door and the lover, representing us, Knesset Yisrael is too slow to open the door. By the time she literally, “gets out of bed!”, He is gone!!!
Not so in this case! We are getting up fast and our Dod, HaKadosh Baruch Hu is coming in with the husband from Shul to celebrate Shabbat with His kallah, Knesset Yisrael!
Rav Bar-Lev responded:
Very good indeed.
The source of this instruction is in the sefer Pree Eitz Chaim – the Gate of the Sabbath – Chapter 14. The Ari’s words confirmed the interpretation. He says the words are said “l’kabel pnei ha-Shechinah” – we say it to receive the countenance of the Feminine Presence of G-d. This is personified by the woman of the household. So there must be a speaker and ideally there is a very special receiver there for the man to greet.
This week I will not share my own experiences shouting out this phrase. They would only serve as “spoilers” or interfere with your own personal experience.
However, please, I hope you will still post your experiences to the comments!
Introduction to the column:
I didn’t want to bore anyone with a lengthy introduction, but here is a thought from the Lubavitch Rebbe ztllh’h may his merit defend us, that I found special. It amplifies some of the meaning behind the equation, Na’aseh V’Neeshmah:
Since Jews are described in the Torah as a 'wise and understanding people,' it is desirable that questions which come within the realm of human understanding should be also be understood and not left to faith alone, wherever this is possible. There is only one prerequisite, which goes back to the time when the Torah and Miztvos were given at Sinai, namely that the Torah must be accepted on the basis of Naaseh ('we will do') first, and then v'nishma ('we will understand') - meaning, that the performance of Mitzvos must not be made conditional on the understanding of their deeper significance, etc., nor must the vitality and enthusiasm of the performance be any the less.
This basic principle and attitude is also a matter of common sense. If the Torah is accepted as Divine - otherwise there is no point at all in any questions and discussions, since if it is man-made one would be free to do as one pleases - that is, given by a Supreme Being, Whose Essence is beyond human grasp, it would be a contradiction in terms to demand to know the meaning and significance of each Divine Mitzva before performing it, for it would reduce the Supreme being to the level of the limited human intelligence, which, moreover, is subject to development, since human understanding increases from day to day with newly acquired knowledge and experience; yet we insist on understanding it today, on our present level.
Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach! ☺