Today's Date: Sat August 18, 2018 | יום שבת שופטים, ז אלול תשע"ח

Shmini Atzeres - Shalom – The Vessel for all Blessings




אמונים אשר נאספו ברכות נכספו

“The faithful ones who were gathered yearn for blessings.” (Yotzer of Shemini Atzeres)

The piyut uses an interesting word for “yearn” – nichsafi. This word has another meaning as well, which provides an interpretation that we can best understand with an insightful parable.


A king had a close friend and confidant with whom he had a very deep and meaningful relationship. The friend was an ardent supporter of the king and always sought ways to bring him pleasure. On a certain occasion, the king decided to reward this loyal friend with a truly magnificent gift. He gathered his advisors and asked them to come up with an idea for a beautiful gift that would convey his deepest feelings to his friend.


When the friend learned of the king’s intentions to send him a gift, he couldn’t imagine what that gift would be. His gaze swept his humble home and it occurred to him that he doesn’t even have a respectable place to keep such a special gift. He immediately decided to build a special display cabinet in which to keep this cherished present.


The friend set out to work on the cabinet. He decided that the cabinet must be extraordinary in order to be worthy of holding the royal gift. He therefore purchased the finest wood and crafted it carefully into a beautiful cabinet. He then coated the entire furniture piece with silver, decorating it with intricate carvings and precious gemstones. After many weeks of hard work, the cabinet turned out to be a true masterpiece.


Finally, the day the king had his gift ready arrived, and he decided to visit his friend personally. After the royal welcome, the king unwrapped a large package and carefully displayed the magnificent gold dishes that he had especially crafted for his dear friend. The friend expressed his gratitude and displayed the gold pieces in the special cabinet.


“Where did you find such a beautiful display cabinet?” asked the king as he admired it.

“I crafted it especially for His Majesty’s gift,” the friend replied.

The king was most impressed. “I’m afraid that the cabinet is far more beautiful than the gift I brought you,” the king declared. “In fact, I am quite embarrassed that my gift is so simple in comparison to the display case you crafted in its honor.”


Shemini Atzeres is the last day of Yom Tov. This is a day of special closeness with Hashem; a day when we can ask for any gift we’d like to receive, and Hashem will give it to us. The Mishna says, “Hashem did not find a better vessel to contain blessings than peace.” When the Jewish people are united in peace, we have a vessel that can contain the gifts that Hashem wants to send us.


“The faithful ones who were gathered,” when the Jewish people are gathered in unity, they stand together, then “brachos nichsafi.” The word nichsafi can also mean “embarrassed.” The blessings that Hashem gives us are embarrassed, so to speak, by the beautiful vessel of peace that has been prepared in their honor. In other words, the vessel – the unity of Klal Yisroel – is far more worthy and far more pleasing to Hashem than all the blessings in the entire world! When compared to the exclusiveness of the vessel, the blessings are considered simple gifts. All great blessings we yearn for are not enough as a reward when we prepare the beautiful vessel of peace.


Dear Brothers and Friends! If we would only know how much Hashem cherishes achdus – unity; if we would only know how He despises quarreling, then we would all live together in peace. It wouldn’t even occur to us to fight. Instead, we would invest all our efforts in spreading peace among Klal Yisroel, between all kehillos and communities.


If we would only know of the terrible anguish we cause Hashem when we don’t get along, we would stay far away from machlokes. Today, on Shemini Atzeres, Hashem tells us, “It is difficult for Me your separation.” Hashem is saying that He will miss the closeness we had during Yom Tov. These words could also mean, “it is difficult for Me when you are separated between yourselves,” when you are divided by petty squabbling. For Hashem, nothing is difficult. Yet, Hashem tells us that our disunity is difficult for Him – this is something He simply cannot tolerate.


If we would think into this, we would stay far away from all forms of dissension and machlokes.

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:
Shmuel ben Chaim
Feinberg A"H
5708-5769 9 Shvat

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:

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