Torah Fax

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 20 MarCheshvan, 5766
Torah Reading: Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1 - 25:18)
Candle Lighting Time: 4:13 PM
Shabbat Ends: 5:15 PM
We bless the New Month of Kislev

Veiled Reality?
It is almost a universal custom for a bride to wear a veil. The source of this practice appears to derive from the narrative of Rebecca in this week's Parshah, Chayei Sarah.
Our Parshah relates that Eliezer, Abraham's servant, returned from Abraham's birthplace with Rebecca, who agreed to marry Abraham's son, Isaac. When they reached their destination and she noticed a man walking in their direction, Rebecca asked Eliezer, "Who is that man?" When Eliezer replied that it was his master Isaac, Rebecca immediately "took a veil and covered herself."
On the surface, the reason for covering her face with a veil was a sign of modesty. But there is also a deeper reason that may be suggested. When we recite the Shema we also cover our eyes. When a woman lights the Shabbat candles, it is customary for her to cover her face. There is a common thread that runs through these three examples of covering of the face.
One reason for the covering of the face during the recitation of the shema is to keep out all distractions, so that we can focus on the message of G‑d's unity. Yet, on a deeper level, the covering of the face-that blocks out everything else-is actually our way of expressing through our actions that there is indeed no other influence in our lives; G‑d is the sole focus of our lives.
Similarly, when a woman lights the Shabbat candles and ushers in the holy radiance of Shabbat, she covers her face as a way of blocking out any trace of darkness that might have been left over from the travail of the past week.
When a man marries a woman, she covers her face as her way of blocking out any other loyalties and connections she might have. Her loyalty to her husband is absolute.
There is a tradition that the Hebrew word for veil-tza'if is an acronym for four Hebrew words, "Amcha Yisrael Tzrichim Parnassah, Your nation Israel needs sustenance." The relevance of this seemingly unrelated reference is that when a woman covers her face at her wedding ceremony, and then when she lights the Shabbat candles each and every week, it is the spiritual mechanism to channel G‑d's blessings for sustenance.
The rationale for this is that G‑d's blessings of sustenance in a home-along with all of the other blessings we want-depends on the spirit of peace and tranquility that pervades the home. Lighting of the Shabbat candles is one medium that creates an atmosphere of peace and serenity. But when is the spirit of peace at its peak?
The answer is when all of the weekday influences exit the home at the onset of the Shabbat. Weekday activities that involve ambition and competition often invite strife and discord in a community and family.
Shabbat is the greatest antidote to that strife when we desist from all of our weekday activities. We do not allow the strife ridden outside atmosphere into our homes nor do we allow the worries that trouble us during the week to invade our day of rest. During Shabbat we are no longer a slave to technology or even to our pursuit of a living. And when we experience one day of unadulterated peace and fulfillment it also has an effect on the forthcoming week. It provides the otherwise stressful week with a measure of the Shabbat serenity.
To ensure that the Shabbat is hermetically sealed off from the rest of the week, the woman who lights the Shabbat candles hides behind a veil of sorts. This, in turn, preserves the peaceful aura of Shabbat. And since peace is the greatest receptacle for all of G‑d's blessings, the veil is appropriately the medium for the blessing of a good living.
In a historical context we are presently ready to light the candles to usher in the ultimate Sabbath of Redemption. All of our efforts, must be directed to once and for all leave the painful exile that we have endured for thousands of years. As we light the candles of Redemption by illuminating our souls with the light and warmth of Judaism, it behooves us to cover our faces with the veil that blocks out the exile mentality that is punctuated with discord and division. We must use all of our energy to focus entirely on the internalization of the Shabbat.
After all these years we have done everything that we needed to do to usher in the Messianic Age. Now is the time to greet the Sabbath of history by blocking out the past exile mentality, and then by opening our eyes to behold the beautiful and holy light of the ultimate Shabbat that will lead the entire world to everlasting peace and fulfillment.

Moshiach Matters
The Megila concludes with an expression of Jewish unity, describing how Mordechai "sought the welfare of all his people." On the highest level of the soul, there is no difference between one Jew and another and hence, complete unity can be established among our people. Since the exile came about because of "unwanted hatred" among Jews, through the expression of unity the reason for the exile will be nullified. This will bring about the nullification of the exile itself. We will proceed from the redemption of Purim to the Messianic Redemption, when peace and unity will be in the most complete manner. (The Rebbe)
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