Shabbos Chabura 4 Kislev Dec 2 2019 we are trying to acquire how the four elements of creation are embedded n the melachos of Shabbos as the basis for creating ourselves and revealing Hashem in this world. Last week we spoke about being a receiver of the blessings to build ourselves as divine beings each week and then ask Hashem to fill our divine capacities up in a more complete way on Shabbos according to what we create during the week.
today we will talk about the taanug of Shabbos and it sounds deceptively simple so I am going to caveat this . things that look deceptively simple like still waters run deep, that is what taanug Shabbos is. when we prepare for Shabbos, in anticipation for Shabbos, already waiting, so many days to go. as we go into Shabbos there is also the taanug of Shabbos. It means the light or ecstasy.
what oneg are we talking to, the simple taste of the food or the other kinds of pleasures? what exactly is the oneg of Shabbos and how does it relate to the week and using the melachos
we will speak from reb weinberg who talked at length about two core principles and how it relates to the element of water. Ultimately we are meant to be connoisseurs of pleasure. it sounds new age, funky, connoisseurs of pleasure. what is he saying?
He quotes the Ramchal in derech Hashem about Hashem’s ultimate platform for conducting Himself is tov umaitiv. Hashem is the ultimate source of goodness and pleasure in this world and His bestowing that upon us is what we are meant to acquire. the five levels of pleasure correspond to the five levels of sou. physical, love, truth, creativity with an individualized mission and then love or devekus in Hashem.
It is true we want to receive the yoke of Hashem but it should not feel so heavy like an ox pulling a pack all day. it should feel light, energized. He is bringing this point to teach that we should focus on pleasure because Hashem’s reality is tov umaitiv, and if we dont focus on the joy then the fear can be burdensome.
the pleasure itself should be reinvested into the energy to perform the avoda in the maximum way. Hashem creates all these amazing things for us acknowledge He is the Source and give it back. we go to truth and higher mission and to devekus in Hashem. Pleasure is not a sidebar thing we fit in when we can. Pleasure itself is absolutely essential to avoda because the avoda of growing spiritually systematically nullifying our human limited existence and connecting to our divine being, we are transforming ourselves weekly. that takes an enormous energy pack and is nuclear in the size of creation itself. it is an exhausting process. Hashem didn’t say have a little pleasure on the side. He says you will need all the energy and vitality necessary to be charged and therefore it is essential to serve Hashem with that.
Chaim Vital in Shaare Kedusha talks about the four elements and when he speaks of water…fire wind water earth, water parallels the vav. on the side of not good, the middos ra are the taivas hataanugim, the desires that are on the midda ra side, the not good side of water. we just said pleasure is so important so central to serve Hashem, what is wrong with some desires, it is all good isn’t it? Chaim Vital says it is but there is the side of holiness and purity and the side of tuma on each element. on water it is the taivas hataanug, lusting after the pleasure as opposed to going after the pleasure itself. what is the difference?
feel yourself, the self, in a limited way, connected and interconnected to creation in which you have a role in and tie it back to Hashem. that is taanug. Hashem puts the reality of pleasure versus limited bodily experience in front of us at all times. we can’t live without pleasure because otherwise we are unmotivated, bored, apathetic because we are hardwired for pleasure. but in the body form of pleasure it is immediate gratification versus long term. it is ultimately counterfeit because it is self serving versus serving Hashem and reinforces the separation between Hashem and us. taanug unifies us to Him an to pleasure.
come Shabbos, we sample food before Shabbos. the arizal tells us that all the worlds ascend upwards three levels on Shabbos, including this world, all ascend up to the source point and when we see everything back to its source, that is called hishkasrus and then it is inter-included and bound up and that is the pleasure of Shabbos. comes the mitzvah of enjoying physical things, we say there is no reality of physicality. it is an expression of Hashem’s creation and our place in it and our avoda is to give back creation to Him. unveil it. we have a part of that, in our toiling. that is the taanug of Shabbos. this is the important mitzvah of intimacy because when opposites come together and join and unify it is an expression of oneg, the ultimate feeling of arriving, where everything joins in sublime bliss . that is the extra layer of soul, telling us that when our radar, our spiritual senses, are up, we get a taste of the next world and we will perceive taanug. it is divine delight of the soul perceiving the interconnectedness and unified reality and our place in it tied back to the week.
Understand that taanug itself is the very basis of what Rabbi Weinberg is telling us. it is not about life being a party, although it is. it is about Hashem’s essence is good and He is the bestower of blessing, the potential and the revealed. the more we see everything connecting back to Him, we know His reality in this world, we know our place and our own mission in this world.
how do we get there, to what Rabbi Weinberg and Chaim vital are saying. we want to choose between taanug divine pleasure and bodily temptations.
to the extent to which we live a mortal physical self serving existence during the week, Shabbos will reflect the human earthly physical existence and we naturalize Shabbos . but to the extent we subjugate the ego willfully giving up our perceived senses of separateness which physical pleasure is, then we come to see our soulful existence and we come to see the soul pleasure and we are excited when things come together, when things interrelate there is a wonderful surge that does not have a tangible quality. the fifth level of pleasure is feeling connected to Hashem, the joining together. it is a beautiful friendship. when you experience the sense of emes, as inherently truthful, we fundamentally are saying this is Hashem’s creation and my soul was touched by that truth and everything is interconnected and it is all part of His oneness. when I affect others, wow it is Hashem’s world . when we make kiddush and daven and learn and do mitzvahs of Shabbos and we let go of all the toiling and doing and becoming and turn our identity back to Hashem and say Hashem I am nothing I have nothing but You. there is no separate existence. every part of my life and everything I own in the world is only an expression and manifestation of You that I am to reveal and the bliss I feel on Shabbos is the pleasure of this oneness. what an incredibly beautiful experience.
reflect on this on Shabbos.
the key is to willfully and systematically want to limit human experience and nullify ego and this is anything but easy. when we nullify part of our ego in fire wind water and earth, we are nullifying the middos and the part of our identity, in this case pleasure. if we have pleasure for its own sake and reinforces me, the gratification of self. why would I want to reinforce what veils me from Hashem. I want to willfully give up parts of myself and even my pleasures, I am meant to have as taanug, the oneg is the basis to feel that surge in the soul, to feel the excitement of the interconnecting, the soul is touching taanug during the week then it will be more on Shabbos. that ultimately what the aspect of taanug and kavod are on Shabbos. taanug Shabbos kodesh. the pleasure of knowing Hashem’s creation and the unity of it and how it relates to each other. we have a wonderful week shvitzing and systematically diminishing the ego done through pleasure because when we diminish the selfhood we are removing the veil of nature we are removing the natural elements. we are removing the water element and reappropriating it back to the soul knowing Hashem wants to give us good in the ultimate sense and to give it back into a mitzvah, the ultimate end goal, the world.
practically, what are some of the things we can do? the water is the element of vitality and nourishment, excitement and passion. Yaakov and Yitzchok dig the wells , the maayim, the wells, there are a lot of deep connections. Practically how do we embrace and embody the pleasure components of our lives. Hashem we want Your pleasure but I don’t want it to be bodily pleasure. I want it to be oneg, delight in Your ultimate reality
what to stay away from…be careful of our taivas our own temptations and lustful pursuits whether eating, relations and intimacy, money and sleep. what are your desires and systematically use free will to reconstruct taiva into taanug. that is one area to consider. another area is the basis of touch itself. The power of touch is so powerful. it joins people together in exquisite ways. to the extent we give our touch away to others, we are giving part of our soul away to someone else. shomer nogea is protective. the sefer yetzira and arizal in eitz chaim, taanug and oneg, the letters are ayin nun gimel for oneg turned around is negia touch. it is also blemish, like on the skin or house that have to do with nega. it is the flip of oneg. when you touch someone for your own sake and it benefits you for your own sake and it is not tied to connecting yourself to the right people for the right reasons, if you are not shomer your nogea you can’t be shomer your oneg. we protect nogea and protect the oneg. that is where the divine connection comes from. Hashem is giving us all the halachas to see the pitfalls where we give away our oneg and draw in inappropriate touch and that is part of the counterfeit part of pleasure, you are touched by that thing in a way that is now biased. when we are touched inappropriately we cannot truly see the oneg. we can talk about the laws of yechud of men and women being together. there is a perceived sense of togetherness that is the basis of intimacy, but even during the month when nidda, there is a mitzvah of yechud, that we are continuously connected to the spouse whether connected or not. we are never fully detached. that is built in. there is always some degree of togetherness. if the six constant mitzvahs are connection to Hashem, to always be connected we have to have the same with our spouse. that is a tremendous pleasure of oneg, a positive expression.
oneg Shabbos, it is important to take tremendous pleasure in Shabbos. not just body pleasure. we want to trade it up to soul delight, to listen to the inner voice of the soul that says I want to see HKB, to see every part of Hs World and be enraptured by His creation. I exist and have existence and I have a unique role that I toil in to reveal that. when I let go of my creative capacity and give that to Him for the fortieth, then the pleasure on Shabbos is the ultimate pleasure, all the levels of pleasure, the levels of the soul uniting with Hashem and our fellow Jews and our selves. may we live with ultimate delight in knowing Hashem and his ways in this world. we want to be a connoisseur, to delight in pleasure, in Hashem’s world it is all light and all a delight.