What is a “Tish” all about?
A Tish is generally conducted Friday night and on Shabbos afternoon at Seuda Shelishis. The Chasidic Rebbe eats his Shabbos meal together with the Chasidim and they sing Shabbos Niggunim throughout, and then the Rebbe says Divrei Torah.
All Chasidishe communities who are being led by a Rebbe have a Tish, with some differences between the communities.
The Tish is not only about singing and saying Torah. In fact, in some communities the Rebbe doesn’t say Torah, and in some communities the Chasidim don’t sing. In the past in Belz, there was very little singing at the Tish. Today, the current Rebbe instituted more singing at the Tish, and formed a Capella to conduct the singing.
If it’s not about singing or saying Torah, what is a Tish all about?
This question brings us to try to understand the Avoda of eating and the role of a Tzadik in Chassidus. We’ll dedicate other posts to those two themes, but now we’ll only touch upon them briefly.
Before Chassidus came into the world, many Talmidei Chachamim ate their meals privately when no one saw them. They considered eating to be a shameful necessity and should be done in private like other bodily functions.
In contrast, Chassidus teaches that eating, when done properly, is a holy Avoda. It is divided in two levels. One level is eating for the purpose of being healthy and having strength to serve Hashem throughout the day. This level is within everyone’s reach.
The deeper and higher Avoda is when the eating becomes an Avoda onto itself and is in line with the Avoda that was done in the Beis Hamikdash. This Avoda is mainly for Tzadikim who cleave to Hashem all day. Everything they do becomes elevated and the food they eat are like sacrifices. As the Gemara says in Yoma 71a “If one wishes to offer “Nesachim” upon the “mizbe’ach”, let him fill the throat of Talmidei Chachamim with wine. (see Mesilas Yesharim – Sha’ar Kedushah)
At a Tish, Chasidim participate with the Rebbe in his meal and in this Avoda.
Eating is such an important part of our lives, if we do it in the right way it elevates our entire being. As the Gemara in Menachos says:”בזמן שבית המקדש קיים – מזבח מכפר על אדם, ועכשיו שאין בית המקדש קיים שולחנו של אדם מכפר עליו” – “While the Temple still stood the altar used to make atonement for a man, but now that the Temple no longer stands a man’s table makes atonement for him.”