Saturday, Jul 13, 2024

Here Comes the Shabbos Sun

Answer this question please. It will relate to Shabbos Shuvah, as will become clear. With what middah did Hashem Yisborach create the sun?

It seems to be too random a question and you might feel like there is no way you are supposed to know that. Well, I hate to break it to you, but the answer to the question is an explicit phrase in davening that we say daily. Still having trouble? I also would not have been able to answer the question until I finally paid a little attention to what I actually say in this phrase.


We say the following in Birchos Krias Shema, almost immediately after Yishtabach:“Hameir la’aretz veladorim aleha berachamimHashem illuminates the world and its inhabitants with mercy.” Perhaps you will say that there is no proof from these words as to with which middah Hashem created the sun. Maybe all the phrase is saying is that Hashem created light, as He did everything, as a result of His great mercy and kindness. I will grant you this argument. So, let us turn to another phrase in the same part of davening that we say weekly on Shabbos with a longer version of what we say daily. We recite in Hakol Yoducha, “Umeir le’olam kulo  uleyoshvav shebara bemiddas harachamim – Hashem illuminates for the entire world and those who dwell in it, which He created with the attribute of mercy.”


In that line, we say directly that Hashem created the sun, which illuminates the world, with mercy. For good measure, lest you claim that perhaps the phrase “which He created with the attribute of mercy” is referring to the entire world, Rav Zundel Kroizer, in his Siddur Ohr Hachamah, understands that this is discussing the sun specifically.


What does it mean that Hashem created the sun with His attribute of rachamim, mercy? There seems to be a specific aspect of the sun that displays Hashem’s mercy. What is that? Furthermore, why is it that on Shabbos we emphasize and highlight the wisdom of Hashem’s creating the sun, moon and stars, the illuminating forces of creation? Chazal instituted longer brachos before Shema on Shabbos that describe in greater detail the greatness of Hashem’s creations of the powerful lights of the world. Keil Adon focuses only on this theme. Keil Adon and the elongated Birchos Krias Shema are only said on Shabbos, not even on Yom Tov. Why do we concentrate on Hashem’s gift of the sun and on the illuminations of the firmament in general on Shabbos? How is the Shabbos sun different than the weekday sun?


Another question: We find an interesting halachah from the Derech Chaim, Rav Yaakov M’Lisa, more famously known as the Nesivos. The Derech Chaim rules that if one forgot to say the paragraph of LoKeil Asher Shovas before Shema on Shabbos, he should say it after davening. Rav Zundel Kroizer wonders why this particular part of davening is any more important than other praises to Hashem that we add to davening, regarding which we don’t find the same instruction that one should say it after davening if somehow one did not say it in its regular spot. Perhaps we can suggest that part of the uniqueness is in how LoKeil Asher Shavas ends, connecting the previous praises of Hashem and Shabbos with “ve’al me’orei ohr she’asisa – (praising You) for the illuminating lights that You created.” If so, we once again find a connection between the sun and Shabbos. Why is this?


Hashem Yisborach divided the world into day and night. Why did He do this? Why didn’t He simply create a world that would always have light? Why the need for night and darkness?


It appears that Hakadosh Boruch Hu created the world for us to exist day by day. Each day has its own mission. Life is not one long open-ended task. We are given one day at a time. When the task of the day is complete, or when time runs out on us for that day even if we did not complete that day’s mission, night and darkness arrive, indicating to us that we need to rest and regroup in preparation for the next day. Whatever happened today is history. When the sun comes out tomorrow, it is a new day.


If you stop to notice, and if you are ever up early enough, watching the sun rise is a beautiful, breathtaking experience. Night and darkness had prevailed just a few moments ago, and with the first rays of light upon the horizon, we witness a rebirth, a creation of a new existence. People have long recognized this, which is why language is full of expressions of the appearance of the sun representing a new beginning, such as “a new dawn on the issue,” “a new horizon on a possibility,” “the sun will come out tomorrow,” etc.


Thus, the sun’s dawn represents the desire of Hashem for us to always look at ourselves anew and to face a new day’s challenges feeling like a new person. This is the key to teshuvah. We need to always recognize our ability to start over despite our previous failures. Hakadosh Boruch Hu created the world with the attribute of justice, middas hadin, in tandem with the middah of rachamim, because He understood that without mercy, the world would not continue to exist, as Rashi says from Chazal (Bereishis 1:1). What specifically is referred to when Chazal say that Hashem created the world with rachamim? The Mesilas Yeshorim (Perek 4, end of Keniyas Hazehirus) says that Hashem’s attribute of rachamim has three expressions, all having to do with teshuvah: Hashem does not punish immediately, but is patient with the sinner; Hashem does not punish with total destruction; and Hashem created the concept of repentance, being able to fix what one has done wrong. All three of these manifestations of rachamim revolve around teshuvah. That is what middas harachamim truly is. As Rashi cites from Chazal (Bereishis 2:4), Hashem created the physical world with the letter hey, which has an opening, alluding to the opening of repentance that always exists for rectifying a sin.


With the rising sun, each and every day provides an opportunity for a new start, and Shabbos does the same for the week. There aren’t endless days; there are units of seven. Hashem created the week, and we are to formulate goals for the week. Each day has its specific purpose and short-term goal, but the six days of the week all have a united purpose as well in more of a long-term goal for that week. But then we stop and reflect upon what we have achieved and what we want to achieve. We are given newness with the neshamah yeseirah, an additional spiritual power to our soul. A day, and specifically the sunrise, signifies newness for that day and Shabbos provides renewal for the week.


In performing a proper teshuvah and changing ourselves, we might be overwhelmed if we look at time in an open-ended fashion. Instead, we should live day by new day and week by new week.


Perhaps this is why we focus so strongly in Birchos Krias Shema on the sun and its being created with the middah of rachamim, and why we do so even more on Shabbos.


Here comes the meaningful Shabbos sun every week.


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