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Monday, February 26, 2024

Parshat Vayera – Shabbat Power

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By: Chaya Sora Jungreis-Gertzulin

Am Yisroel is now entering week 4 of a most difficult war. Week 4 of much pain and heartache, of many tears being shed; for lives lost, for the injured and for those who were barbarically taken hostage. So many families in pain, so many lives in upheaval.

But amidst all the darkness, there are shimmers of light, stories of miracles, heroism and tikvah.

One such story is that of Natalie, a young, vivacious mom who lived in one of the communities struck by Hamas terrorists.

Natalie tells of waking up on that fateful Shabbos – Simchas Torah morning, to the wailing alarm of Tzeva Adom – Red Alert. She took a quick look out her window and realized that this alert was different. Besides for the missile barrage from Gaza, numerous terrorists had infiltrated her community.

Filled with fear and trepidation, she ran to the kitchen and grabbed some knives. One for her, and one for each of her children. Armed with their knives, Natalie and her children entered the “safe room”.

Moments later, Natalie heard the sounds of machine gun fire, and felt the walls of her home shake. From the depths of her neshama, she cried out to HaShem. “Borei Olam, it’s just You, me and my children. I am mekabel, accept upon myself, to keep Shabbos with kedusha.”

Natalie shared that “B’otah shniyah”, at that very second, there was a lull in the gunfire. She ran to look out the window, and saw a group of terrorists passing over her home.

Natalie believes with her full heart that it was Borei Olam, HaShem, who saved her and her children.

The story doesn’t end here. The following day, after the massacre and the arrival of the IDF to clear the community of terrorists, Natalie and her children went to Sderot, and it was there that she kept her first Shabbos.

Following Shabbos, Natalie returned to her home and realized that she had merited a second miracle. While in Sderot, a Qassam rocket made a direct hit on her home, landing in her bedroom. We can only imagine what could have been, had she remained in her home. Natalie has no doubt that the z’chus of her commitment to shmiras Shabbos saved her life, and the lives of her children, not once, but twice.

Every Leil Shabbos, we sing the beautiful tefilla of Lecha Dodi. “Likras Shabbos l’chu v’neilcha, Let us go and welcome the Shabbos, kee hee mekor ha’bracha, for it is the source of blessing.”  Additionally, one of the zemiros commonly sung at the Shabbos seuda is “Kee eshmera Shabbos, keil yishme’reinee, Because I keep the Shabbos, HaShem will protect me”

We are living in special times. Times that are called Ik’vesa d’Meshicha, the Heels of Moshiach. The footsteps of Moshiach are coming closer and closer. We don’t know how long it will be, it can be years or very soon. One thing is certain, “Ahchakeh lo b’chol yom sheh’yavo, I await his arrival every single day.”

The Kabbalists teach that in the days preceding the final redemption, we will experience the birth pangs of Moshiach. Why birth pangs? For just as a woman in labor endures painful contractions prior to seeing the miracle of life – her beautiful baby, so too, we must endure pain and difficulty before the arrival of Moshiach, which will be followed by blissful and peaceful times.

Each week, come Shabbos, we are given a special gift. It is stated in the Talmud that fulfilling the three Shabbos meals spares one from three misfortunes: the travails that precede the coming of Moshiach, the judgment of Gehinom, and the pain of the final war of Gog and Magog.

It’s no challenge to enjoy the first two Shabbos meals. Who isn’t hungry and looking forward to a delicious meal on Friday night. And, after shul, everyone looks forward to the Shabbos lunch seudah.  But it’s that third meal that we are at times ready to skip. Especially at this time of the year, as the days are getting shorter, we may still feel satiated from the Shabbos lunch. Yet, we sit down to the Shabbos table once again, this time for Shalosh Seudos.

Shalosh Seudos, Seudat Shlishit, Shaleshudos, or simply the Third Shabbos Meal. No matter how you say it – what makes this meal so special?

We are drawn to the table, not for the food but for the spirit of the moment. We sing Mizmor L’Dovid, a Song for Dovid. We sing it three times, its soft melody bringing with it peace and tranquility. In my home, we sing the various tunes that have been sung for generations by both mine and my husband’s families. Different niggunim, but with the same feelings and emotions.

With all the turmoil we are experiencing today, the words of Mizmor L’Dovid take on extra meaning.

“HaShem ro-ee, lo echsar, HaShem is my shepherd, I am not lacking… lo ee-ra ra, kee Ata eemadee, I am not afraid, because You are with me…”

What comforting, reassuring words, words that bring us to a place of calmness and serenity.

Each week, we have the opportunity to bring the beauty of Shalosh Seudos into our homes. It is a most auspicious time for prayer, and to renew our connection to HaShem. Savor the moment, and hold on to the Shabbos spirit. Keep in mind that it is the meal that protects us from the war of Gog and Magog.

The Midrash teaches, Im Atem m’shamrim neiros shel Shabbos, Ani ma’areh lachem neiros shel Tzion, If you keep the lights of Shabbos, I (HaShem) will show you the lights of Tzion. With every Shabbos candle lit, we come one step closer to Moshiach. Like Natalie, by keeping Shabbos, from lighting the Shabbos candles, to participating in the three Shabbos meals,  it all bring s us closer to the lights of Tzion.

May we all see very soon the ultimate geulah, and the coming of Moshiach.

Shabbat Shalom!

Chaya Sora

Chaya Sora can reached at [email protected]

This article was written L’zecher Nishmas /In Memory Of HaRav Meshulem ben HaRav Osher Anshil HaLevi, zt”l and Rebbetzin Esther bas HaRav Avraham HaLevi, zt”l

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