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                When approaching a stop sign while driving, according to the law, you are to come to a complete stop even if the road is clear. Most of us though, continue to drift without completely stopping. If we were to enter that same intersection seeing a police car standing nearby, we would be careful to stop, as we should. Many of us enter Shabbos rolling through the stop sign, not coming to a complete stop. Hashem is watching us to see if we proceed to role, making the past week collide with the coming week, or do we stop to take in Shabbos properly. But how are we in our busy day and age to stop suddenly and just tune-out the surrounding world? How can we better our Shabbos to get the most out of it?

               

                  There are thirty-nine commandments regarding the types of work we are not permitted to do on the seventh day. Violation of even one of these laws can be compared to rolling through the stop sign. Understanding these laws in order to perform them perfectly takes a lifetime of studying and practice. We should never assume that we know them perfectly and do them without flaw. Our Creator is watching us continually, and every act done on Shabbos is being noted in its entirety.   In order for our conduct to be impeccable we must develop a respect for this holy day. To accomplish this, we must learn how it is so holy.

           

            “What was created when Hashem rested? Contentment, peace of mind, tranquility and restful bliss.”[1] We too are able tap into this harmony through resting on this precious day. As much as we unwind physically on this day of rest, spiritually we are to awaken.

           

            There was a young man that heard wonderful things about the land of Israel and how a person can experience great holiness by going there. After a few months spent soul searching in the holy land he was concerned as to why he did not feel the surge of sublimity he was expecting. He traveled to the Kotel and to many of the graves of holy tzaddikim. Finally he approached a rabbi and told him, “People told me I would feel holiness here, but I feel nothing at all.  I’m going to just return home disappointed.” The rabbi responded, “Do you know what a bafutstick is? Can you feel a bafutstick?” The puzzled young man answered back, “I do not know what a bafutstick is.”  The rabbi responded, “…and do you know what holy is? Come into my Yeshivah and learn what holy is!”[2] The same can be true of the Shabbos. The immense kedushah that Shabbos brings takes much effort and patience to experience. It is not accomplished over night. If you want to know what it is to feel this holiness you have to learn about it in great depth.

 

            A king once told his friend, the prime minister, “I see in the stars that whoever eats any wheat that grows this year will become mad. What do you suggest I do?” The prime minister replied, “We should put aside enough wheat so that we ourselves will not have to eat from this harvest.” The king answered, “But if we alone are the sane ones, and the rest of the world is mad, then we will be the ones who everyone will consider to be the mad ones. It is not possible to place aside enough wheat for everyone, so we too must eat this year’s grain. But let us make a mark on our foreheads so that we should at least know that we are mad. I will look at your forehead, you will look at mine, and seeing this sign, we will know that we are both mad.”[3]

 

            Today we live amongst the nations exiled from our homeland and as we all know, the world has gone mad. Children are now capable of killing, immorality is everywhere and homes are broken from an alarming divorce rate. It is difficult to escape the madness as tumah has managed to seep into even the smallest of crevices. We as Jews have a special sign that keeps us apart from madness. This sign is that we are Jews and even amongst all this insanity we still remain holy Jews by the observance of Shabbos. The Shabbos has given our people a cense of family and has separated us from the goyim “The Shabbos sensation is a sign of the future, when Hashem and man will be in complete harmony.”[4]

 

               Hashem wanted to make the Jewish people worthy of the World to Come therefore; He gave us the Torah and commandments.[5] He also wanted to give us a taste of the spiritual bliss of the next world, so He gave us Shabbos. The pleasure one feels on the Shabbos is a counterpart of the World to Come, and every Jew can experience spiritual delight on the Shabbos.

 

            Chazal have taught us, “Reward for the commandments does not exist in this world.” If this is true then a question arises, how can a person enjoy Shabbos? The answer is that Hashem in His absolute kindness gave it to us as a free gift. The reward for the commandments may not exist in this world, but Hashem allowed us to take pleasure in it, even in this world. We know that Shabbos is liken to the World to Come from the Talmud where it states, “The Shabbos is one sixtieth of the World to Come.”[6] Therefore Hashem wanted us a taste of the splendor of Olam Habah, as an incentive to do His will and keep the Shabbos. “You shall keep the Shabbos [for it is a sign... that I am G-d who makes you holy].”[7] If you keep the Shabbos, you will experience the spiritual joy of the World to Come, the Shabbos will bring holiness into your life. Shabbos is therefore a “sign” leading to the future reward. This is why it says, “It is a sign.... that I am G-d, who makes you holy.” Through observing the Shabbos, you will come to know the G-d who will make you holy in the World of Eternity- in the world where all is Shabbos.[8]

 

            When Hashem created the world, it was like a body without a soul. Just like Hashem infused life into the nostrils of man and gave him a soul, so too, He brought the peace of Shabbos into the world. It is thus written, “On the seventh day He rested and was refreshed, vayinafash.”[9] The word vayinafash is related to the word nefesh, soul, for the Shabbos is the soul of all creation.[10]

 

            Each day of the week draws its sustenance from what is done on Shabbos. This especially holds true of the three seudos, festive meals, we take part in. We learn from Sha’are Orah that the Shabbos is the source of all of the blessing and holiness that is given to us. Someone who keeps the Shabbos in accordance with its laws, becomes a throne for the heavenly constellation of Hashem, Blessed be He. Therefore Shabbos is known as meNuChaH (a resting place). As it says in Psalms 132:14, “This is my resting place forever and ever. Anyone who keeps Shabbos in accordance to its laws fulfills the Torah in its entirety.” We also see this in Isaiah where it says, “Happy is the one who does this; he who keeps the Shabbos and does not profane it.”[11]

 

            The Shabbos is the light of the eyes that illuminate the Holy Temple and the entire world. This is why those who keep the Shabbos will have their eyes opened and will have the power to ascertain how far they have reached in their spiritual journey. They will be able to repent for their failings and come to recognize the true greatness of Hashem. They will be drawn to the innermost aspect of truth, to the true tzaddik and to those who have genuine fear of Heaven. It will be as if they are engaged in rebuilding the Holy Temple.[12]

 

             The seventh day, being Shabbos, is a day of rest from all toil and worldly matters. We should use this day to reflect on the passed week, and analyze all of our deeds and intensions. It is a time for families to sit down together and draw closer. The Shabbos day is truly a present from Hashem, and is the best thing that can happen to the family unit. Body and soul are infused, so thereby dependent on each other. All week our bodies are stressed from the pressures of work and material matters. We do not have anytime to scrutinize over what is truly important, our family, friends, ruchnius and Judaism. When Shabbos comes the world disappears leaving heavenly ecstasy.

                          

            When a person brings the light of Shabbos into there life, it opens up many new doors. The more of an elevated state reached on Shabbos, the closer to Hashem you will feel. Giving your children an upbringing that includes the observance of Shabbos is the greatest gift you can give them. Rebbe Nachman said once, “When a person experiences the holiness of the Shabbos, they can attain true purity. This means to understand ones own lowliness and to be so aware of the greatness of Israel, to such an extent that he is prepared to sacrifice his very life for them, as Moses did.”[13] Let us teach this mitzvah of Shabbos to our families and to the entire world.

           

            The purpose of mans creation was that he should strive to emulate Hashem. The example for this is the Shabbos where the Torah says that you should work six days and rest on the seventh, as Hashem did when creating the world. Thus, in the commandment of observing the Shabbos, the Torah is instructing us to emulate Hashem.[14]

                       

               The six days of the week are a preparation for the holiness of Shabbos. This can be compared to a man who was sitting in the dark for many days and suddenly went out into the light. He will not be able to stand the light for it will harm his eyes. It is the same way with someone whose actions are dark during the week, and will not be able to receive the light of the holiness of Shabbos.[15] We see from this how important it is to make a vessel of oneself for the Shabbos, by increasing ones awareness of Hashem and their performance of mitzvos during the week.

 

            Rabbi Yudan stated that according to the tradition of the world, the master tells his servants, “Work for me six days and one day we be for you.” Hashem however says, “Work for yourselves six days and for Me one day.”[16]

 

            Shabbos observance is the basis of pure faith. All the acts of charity and other good deeds that we do are created with radiance and perfection only in virtue of the Shabbos. This is because Shabbos is the very embodiment of faith itself. Charity has the strength to bring an abundance of blessings and holy influences into the world, but they only become manifested in reality because of the Shabbos. As the embodiment of faith, Shabbos is the fountain of blessings. Shabbos brings everything in the world to its greatest perfection. Devoid of Shabbos, and the faith it brings with it, all things are lacking. This relates also to our Da’at, the understanding we have of Godliness and our knowledge of Torah. True wisdom and the understanding of Torah can thrive only through the influence of Shabbos and of faith.[17]

 

            As we can see from Rebbe Nachman’s words, Shabbos enables the actions we do on the weekdays to take on more real effect. The things we do during the weekday’s lack meaning until Shabbos comes and adds to their holiness enabling them to be processed at a much higher level. We too cannot experience our true purpose without her. With this realization, it is a wonder why all week long we are not continuously thinking about Shabbos and what we can add to make our Shabbos all the more glorious and holy.

           

            Some people go through Shabbos every week and something is just missing in there Shabbos. This is because, as much you put into Shabbos, that amount you get back in ruchnius. When a person puts into Shabbos one day of his week, his Shabbos shines double. If he puts in two days, triple illumination and so forth. When all the days of the week are put into Shabbos, expecting and preparing for it whether spiritually or physically, all ones days have an essence of Ohlam Habah.

 

            In our daily prayers every morning when we say over the psalm for the day we always mention the Shabbos. Today is this day of the week of the Shabbos. This shows how everyday of the week is in preparation for the coming Shabbos and draws holiness from it. Rabbi Asher of Stolin taught that we should always be looking forward to the coming of Shabbos the entire week, thinking to ourselves, “When will Shabbos come?”[18] Every day of the week, remember the holy Shabbos by preparing, if possible, something for its honor.[19]

 

                Once Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz sat at a table on Wednesday at some mitzvah meal and he began to speak about the holiness of Shabbos. During his speech, he became so ecstatic about it and so full of fervor that he called out to those around him, “Shabbos Shalom to you!” It seemed to Rabbi Yuda Tzvi who was sitting with him that Shabbos was soon approaching and he went home to get his white shirt and went right to the mikvah in honor of the Shabbos. On the way there he met another man who was also at the table with the Tzanzer and they both proceeded together with their white shirts under their arms to the mikvah for Shabbos. When they got there they saw that they were the only ones at the mikvah and then realized their mistake that it was only Wednesday and not Friday afternoon. The fervor of the Tzanzer had affected them to such an extent that they thought that Shabbos was already upon them.[20]

 

 

            For many Shabbos afternoon is like a mad rush to get everything done. It is very important that the Shabbos be brought into ones home with peace. The Satan is well aware of opportunity given him during erev Shabbos. Tempers can easily fly causing the Shabbos to be brought in with accompanying family strife. This is the exact opposite of what the Shabbos is supposed to bring. Early preparation is very much the key to avoid this. It should also not be beneath husbands and boys to take on one or two of the Shabbos preparatory chores. After all, if you want to take the light from Shabbos you have to put into it yourself. The Gemara says there are three things a man should ask his wife on the coming of Shabbos. Have you set-aside tithes, have you put up the erev and have you lit your candles yet.[21] Rabba bar Rav Huna said “he must say them in a gentle way so that his family may accept them in good faith.”[22] Rav Ashi stated that he did this as a manner of common sense. We can see from this that it is very important to keep things calm before Shabbos as much as it is important to get everything done and completed before Shabbos. “A man should wake up early [on Friday] to prepare provisions for the Shabbos; as it says,[23] And it shall come to pass on the sixth day, when they get ready what they shall have brought in, i.e., as soon as they bring it [early in the morning] it should to be prepared [early].[24]

 

 

            “Better a meal of vegetables”- on Shabbos-“where there is love [between you and your wife and family] than a fattened ox where there is hate.”[25] This teaches you that one should not say, “Let me go out and purchase delicacies for Shabbos, “knowing full well that he will dispute with his wife, his father and mother, and members of his family. “Better a dry crust with peace than a house full of feast with strife”[26] This pertains both to Shabbos and Yom Tov; and the same concept is reflected in the phrase “bechibadeso”, “Honor [the Shabbos]”[27]–by avoiding arguments[28].[29]

           

 

                 Chazal said, “If you prepare on Friday, you will have food on Shabbos.”  One should be very eager to make preparations for Shabbos. You should move quickly like a man told that the queen and her entourage are coming to lodge in his house. He says with excitement “What an honor they are bestowing onto me by coming to stay in my house.” He tells his servants to get the house ready. “Sweep, tidy up, and prepare the beds with the finest linens.” Then he personally stands in the kitchen to prepare the finest delicacies and buys the riches wines. What greater a guest is there than Shabbos, which is called “a queen” and “a delight.”  How much more that the master of the house himself should take the trouble to prepare like Rava, a leading Talmudic authority, who himself salted a fish in honor of Shabbos.[30]

 

            One is required to get ready cooked foods, meat, oil and good wine for the pleasure of the Shabbos.[31]

 

            Emperor Antoninus on one occasion had lunch with Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi on Shabbos. Several of the dishes were served cold; nevertheless the Emperor ate them with delight. He invited himself a second time to partake of lunch. This time he came on a weekday, the dishes were served hot, but the Emperor didn’t enjoy them as much. Wondering why this was the case, he thus inquired of his host, “The other meal was more to my taste. Why so?” Rabbi Yehudah replied, "This feast is without an important ingredient.” The Emperor asked, “Why have you not requested this special ingredient from my provisions?” Rabbi Yehudah responded, “Since this ingredient is not in your possession; it is the Shabbos which is missing. Have you the Shabbos in your storehouses?”[32]

 

            Rabbi Chaim Luzzatto said,  “The additional amount that you do to honor Shabbos and the holidays, the more you will honor the Creator who commanded you to do so. The universal rule is that you should do as much as you can as a demonstration of your respect for Shabbos. It says in the Talmud how even the greatest scholars would take care to personally do things to prepare for Shabbos. They would envision what they might do for a prominent person whom they wished to honor, and then they would do comparable things for Shabbos.”[33]

 

            Once there was a man who earned the title, “Yoseph Mokir Shabbos” (Joseph who honors the Shabbos). He rightly called this because no matter how meager his earnings, he would always honor the Shabbos with all types of table delicacies, notably when it came to buying the finest fish. Where he lived, there lived a certain gentile who owned a large amount property. One day he was consulting his mystic friends and they told him that the man Yoseph would consume all his land. Thinking he would go around this fate, he went, sold all his property and purchased a precious stone with the proceeds, which he put in his coat. As he was crossing a bridge, a powerful wind blew it off and cast it into the river, whereby a fish straight away swallowed it up. This very same fish was later hauled up by a fisherman and brought to the market on erev Shabbos, towards sunset. “Who will purchase it now?” they cried in anxiousness as Shabbos was soon approaching and most people had already bought and cooked their seudos. “Go and take it to Yoseph Mokir Shabbos,” they were told by fellow shopkeepers. So they took it to him and he purchased it. Upon opening it, he found the valuable jewel and sold it for an enormous sum. (Shabbos 119a)

 

            Our Sages trained us that in order to truly observe the Shabbos in a holy manner, we must remember it all week long and prepare for it. If you see something during the week that you would enjoy having on Shabbos, by all means acquire it and set it apart for the Shabbos day. (Beitzah 15b)

 

            Shamai would constantly eat in honor of the Shabbos. If he saw a prime cut of meat, he would say, “Let this be for Shabbos.” If he found a better one, he would place in reserve the second for the Shabbos and eat the first. Hillel on the other hand had adopted a different approach. All of his actions were believing in Hashem that he would find something worthy for the Shabbos day, as it is said: “Blessed be Hashem, day by day.” It was thus taught: The school of Shammai says, “From the first day of the week, one should prepare for the Shabbos,” but the school of Hillel say, “Blessed be Hashem, day by day.” (Beitzah 16a)

 

            If one is able, it is a nice practice to write down something for every day of the week that you will complete that day in honor of the coming Shabbos. See if there is an organization you can give charity to or personally help out which provides the poor or sick with food for Shabbos. Too make another person’s Shabbos is a very holy mitzvahh. Deliver some flowers Lekavod, in honor of Shabbos to your friends and neighbors occasionally. Think up ideas for yourself in this regard. Make your weekday holy by thinking of the coming Shabbos and preparing for it not just for you but for others as well. Teach your fellow Jews of the holiness of Shabbos and share this mitzvahh with them. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach once said, “If you want to taste the Shabbos, then give it to someone else.” It is such a wonderful thing to see Jews willing to share the Shabbos with their fellow Jews. The Shabbos guests one invites to stay over or eat the festive meal truly adds to the flavor and mitzvahh your Shabbos.

 

 

            One should repeatedly try to take pleasure in the Shabbos and festivals. If one is financially insecure, in need all week long, he should take special care to see that there is funds for the Shabbos and he should try to enjoy the Shabbos to the best of his ability. Even if he is inhibited from preparing a great deal, so long as he gave it his best effort and his intentions were good, his reward will be as great comparable to that of a wealthy man who prepares a great deal for the Shabbos. (Rambam, Mishna Torah, Shabbos 30:7-8)

 

            Rabbi Tachifa, the brother of Rabinia, stated: “The provisions of a person for the full year is determined and set between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, not including for the costs that are incurred through Shabbosos and Yomim Tovim (festivals), and for the tuition of his children in Torah study. If a person spends fewer for any of these, he is approved less; if more, then he is granted an additional amount to balance the expenditures.” (Beitzah 15b)

 

            Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of R. Eliezer ben Reb Shimon that Hashem declares, “My children, borrow on My account to better rejoice in the holiness of the Shabbos day; trust Me and I will repay you!” (Beitzah 15b)

 

            Besides actual physical preparations, there are many spiritual practices that can really add to ones Shabbos. With all the necessary house chores and physical preparations it is important not to forget to prepare our souls for the tremendous holiness the Shabbos brings upon us. If we are prepared only physically for the Shabbos, it just will not be enough. Shabbos is much more then just a physical day of the week. It is a time when the heaven’s open up and divine radiance fills the entire world. We want to be a part of this and feel the kedushah in our souls therefore we must be spiritually clean. Let me share with you some ways our holy Rabbi’s cleansed themselves in order to take on the physical and spiritual change of Shabbos.

 

            It is a halachic requirement to read the holy scripture of the week, verse by verse, once in Hebrew and twice in Targum. (Berachos 8a) Rebbe Nachman explains (Likutey Maharan 19) that the Targum language is like a balance beam between good and evil. By reciting the Targum and thereby bringing nogah into kedushah one spiritually purifies themselves. This is an important preparation for Shabbos therefore it is said Friday.

 

            Rabbi Zev Wolf of Zhitomir related, once the Great Maggid of Mezritch sat in his room, which was next to his Beis Midrash, and said the Torah portion of the week, twice Torah and once Targum. Quite a few of us students were sitting in the Beis Midrash [studying] when all of a sudden a great light shone on us. At once the door of the Maggid’s room flew open and his flaming countenance was revealed to our eyes. This unusual vision almost caused us to loose our minds. Rabbi Pinchas of Frankfort and his brother Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg, and Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk and his brother Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol, all fled outside. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev went into a state of ecstasy and rolled on the floor under the table. Even I [even though I am not an emotional person] clapped my hands in uncontainable excitement. (HaMaggid mi-Mezritch, p. 69)

 

            Through reading twice Torah and once in Targum, an extra soul power comes to a person. (Yalkut Reuveni quoted in Or ha-Shabbos, p38)

 

            One should be careful not to disrupt their reading of twice Torah and once Targum for any conversation, even of Torah, so that they do not slacken the taut rope that is trying to sanctify and to empower their soul. Once having recited the reading of twice Torah and once Targum a person should meditate on repentance, because if you are stuck in your impurity, how will you be able to attain to the light of the Shabbos holiness? (Or ha-Shabbos, p.37) 

 

            On Each holy Erev Shabbos you should meditate on repentance with a broken and remorseful heart. You should feel be repentant for all the sins you committed that past week so that you can come into the holy Shabbos in a state of holiness and receive the enlightenment of the extra soul given to you. (Avodah u’Moreh Derech, p.49)

 

            I heard it from my Rav the Rabbi of Barniv, the memory of a Tzaddik for a blessing, and he was told it from an elderly gentleman who was one of the servants in the house of the rebbe, Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk. The elderly man said that “Erev Shabbos, even the men and women who were servants in the Rebbe’s house, myself included, would beg forgiveness from one another, just like on Erev Yom Kippur. They would all be trembling and crying and their knees would be knocking against each other until the candles of the holy Shabbos were lit. When the candles were finally lit, a great joy fell upon each of us and we all tasted the joy of Shabbos, feeling a very great and elevated joy.” (Or Zarua l’Tzaddik, quoted in Or ha-Shabbos, p.48)

 

            By Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk every Erev Shabbos was like Erev Yom Kippur. The entire town got together in the synagogue to say Psalms and they cried and cried and Rav Elimelech would say over inspirational words of mussar to them before the start of Shabbos. (Ohel Elimelech, p. 82, #198)

 

            In the code of Jewish law, it says that it is a mitzvahh to was ones entire body with hot water on Erev Shabbos. If this is not possible, at the very least, one should wash their face, hands and feet. (Shulchan Oruch 360,1)

           

            Why do we wash with hot water Erev Shabbos? His is parallel to the immersion of the soul in the River of Fire to remove the stains of its sins. So when you bathe in hot water Erev Shabbos the stains of your sins are removed. (Taamei ha-Minhagim, p.119)

 

           The Arizal would foremost read the Shemos and then he would immerse in the mikvah. The Tosefes Shabbos [the additional holiness that descends upon a Jew before Shabbos] does not cause his countenance to radiate until after immersion [in the mikvah, even before midday]. It further relates that the main time for this shining countenance begins after midday. The closer to Shabbos, the greater the revelation.” It was also his minhag to think about during his first immersion into the mikvah that he is removing the weekday soul and the second to take on the new extra clean soul of Shabbos. (Minhagei ha-Arizal, p.31b)

 

            The explanation why we go to bathe in the mikvah Erev Shabbos is that it is a matter of spiritually removing one soul-garment and putting on another. We need to have a different spiritual aspect altogether on Shabbos, a different soul-garment. Therefore we go to the mikvah, remove our weekday cloths, go through the transforming experience of the bath and put on our Shabbos cloths, all this being replicated with our spiritual garments. (Pe’er l’Yesharim, p.22a #248)

 

            I asked my father if there was truth to what they say about Rabbi Chayim, that from Erev Shabbos, after he was in the mikvah, until the holy Shabbos finished, he was a full head taller than he was during the week. He replied, “Son, you know that it’s not my manner to exaggerate, and of course I didn’t measure his height. But this I can disclose to you, with clear testimony, that I saw him every Erev Shabbos when he walked to the mikvah and as he came back. I can tell you that the man who came back was not the same man. He appeared like a completely different person: his face, his height, and everything about the look of his holy body was altered from what it had been.” (Saarei Orah, p.9)

 

            For many, a nap before Shabbos would be preparatory to their greeting the Shabbos queen. Rabbi Tzvi Mendel, the son of Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol told over an important moshal. “Tzaddikim are always progressing higher and higher in their service of Hashem, going from chamber to chamber, ever advancing in the heavenly Palace, and ascending from World to World. Before they can go forward though, each time they must first shed from them the life force that they have at present, so as to be able to be given another and greater one. Then they will receive a new consciousness and a new perception will shine on them at every elevation. This is the real secret of sleep. (Menoras Zhav, p.98)

 

            One person who followed this practice was Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitz, may his merit protect us. He was always careful to take a nap Erev Shabbos, for this is also component of the honor of Shabbos, to receive Shabbos with a clear mind and fully alert. (Or ha-Ner, p.11, #1)

 

            A person would never think of greeting a queen without wearing the best of their wardrobe. The same should be true of the Shabbos queen. “Undertake to wear different clothing on Shabbos; replace your weekday clothing by putting on Shabbos cloths. Happy is the person who has special cloths from top to bottom for Shabbos… When getting yourself ready for Shabbos… state that you are doing it for the honor of Shabbos. (Rabbi Chayim Yosef David Azulai, Avodas ha-Kodesh, Moreh b’Etzba, 4-139)

 

            Rabbi Chaim Vital once learned from his teacher the Arizal, “that it is improper to wear any of the cloths you wear during the week on the Shabbos. The same holds true with the six day of the week. One should not wear any of their Shabbos clothing, even your Shabbos shirt. (Minhagei ha-Arizal, p.33, #15,16)

 

            The main time for the giving of Tzedakah is Erev Shabbos and Erev Yom Tov. (Derech Chayim, 3-4) Many women before lighting their candles have a custom to give Tziedakah. (Or ha-Shabbos, p.63)

 

            On the sacred Shabbos, whose deep meaning is the spiritual elevation of all the worlds, the Shabbos candle serves to represent the elevation of the soul and of holiness. (Divrei Chayim quoted in Or ha-Shabbos, p.61)

 

 

            There are many customs as to how many candles a woman should light to welcome in the Shabbos. The traditional custom is too light two candles for husband and wife but many women add one for every child they have. There are those who light seven for the seven days of the week. Others light ten for the Ten Commandments. (Or ha-Shabbos, p.61) There are those who light a Shabbos candle in each room of their house that they use on Shabbos. (Be’er Hativ, quoted in Or ha-Shabbos, p.61) The B’nai Yissachar told over, “A few of our masters of previous generations were very cautious always to light thirty-six candles, signifying the thirty-six hours that Adam had the benefit of the Divine Light before it was hidden away. (Or ha-Shabbos, p.65) I personally have never seen anyone light so many candles as stated as most people follow the usual custom of one per member of the house. It is interesting to note though that it says in Ayin Yakkov Shabbos that he who has the custom of lighting many lamps [on Shabbos and Yom Tov] will have scholarly sons. He who is strict in the observance of Mezuzah will be worthy of having a beautiful dwelling. Also, the person who is strict in the observance of the Kiddush [on Shabbos and Yom Tov] will be worthy of having jars filled with wine.” (Ayin Yakkov Shabbos 22a)

 

             

 

            When a person walks home from shul Friday night, they are accompanied by three malachim. The sense of menucha really starts to manifest itself. What a becoming time to start reflecting on ways to come close to Hashem. Sometimes this menucha is so becoming that we start to ramble about this and that. The walk home should therefore be watched carefully. Torah thoughts, and singer are most appropriate for such a walk with accompanying angels. Every week when the Nikesberger Rebbe walks home from shul, his Chassidim accompany him as he sings aloud in the streets with the joy of Shabbos. He also asks one of the young buchorim to speak over a d'var Torah and together they discuss it. The Shabbos walk of menuchah henceforth should be carefully appreciated.

 

         Shabbos is holy; Shabbos brings peace the Rebbe sings on his way home from Shul. Inner peace, serenity, harmony, bliss, this is what Shabbos brings. This is because the peace of Shabbos is not only peace between human beings but it also instills peace between man and creation. The Zohar says that the mystery of the Shabbos is Unity (Zohar 2:135b). On the Shabbos, Hashem created harmony between Himself and the universe.  By keeping the Shabbos a person enters into harmony with Hashem and the world. Man is then in a state of peace with all of creation. It is like plugging something into a socket. It has no energy, it doesn’t exist until it is plugged in and receives a charge.  

 

            During the Inauguration of the Shabbos (Kabbalas Shabbos), prior to the evening service, all universes and observances are elevated. This is the concept of the elevation of the universes. (Maggid Devarav LeYakkov 60) 

 

            Now that this harmony is in the upper worlds, it is time to draw some down to ourselves through the holy Kiddush when we return home from shul. It is a custom amongst the Sefardim for the person making the Kiddush to call out lechayim after saying sarvri maranan. Rabbi Shlomo Goldman says that this is a practice all of us should keep as it teaches us an understanding that through our kiddush we get life and sustenance. Therefore, one should have in mind all of their spiritual and physical needs during the Kiddush. This is a very important concept to understand. We should make an extra effort to concentrate deeply during this time saying or listening to the words with much kavanah.

 

 When you perform Kiddush, you should “Make the Kiddush with joy, and have the intention that you are giving witness that Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the Shabbos.” (Derech Chayim, 1-41)

                  

           “Six days shall you labor and do all your work.” This indicates that when the Shabbos enters, we should feel as if all our work were completed, leaving our minds and bodies completely free.” (Shemos 20:9, Yalkut Yisro 296)

 

            One should do their best to draw the holiness of Shabbos into the six working days of the week and sanctify them as well. The more the weekdays are invested with holiness, the more the forces of evil will be subdued. (Likutey Eitzos Shabbos, #4). A person should first perfect their observance of Shabbos from sundown to sunset Friday night till the eve of Saturday. Having already done so, it is a very holy practice to draw the Shabbos holiness into your weekday by adding some additional time to your Shabbos both before and after. Having personally added time to Shabbos, I have noticed my following weekday infused with much more blessing and material matters seem to go much more smoothly. I therefore recommend this practice to those who are able to fulfill it. It is important not to forget quality verses quantity. If extending the Shabbos longer will lead you to use the time wastefully then it might be better to just end it at the normal hour. Even a couple minutes longer at the conclusion of Shabbos before Havdalah draws a little bit more holiness into the weekdays but how much more so a half hour or an hour.

 

              What is this “rest”? It is the absence of work. It is a recess that is called Shabbos (meaning rest). What is this like? A King possessed seven gardens, and the middle one contained a fountain, coming up from a living source. Three [of his gardens] are at its right, and three are at its left. When it performed its duty and overflowed, they all celebrated, saying, “It overflowed for our sake”. It waters them and makes them grow, while they wait and rest. Are we then say that it waters the seven? But it is written in Isaiah (43,5), “From the east I will bring your seed”. This shows that one of [the seven] waters it. We must therefore say, that it waters the Heart, and the Heart then waters them all. (Bahir 159)

 

            When the Torah starts, it begins with the word Bereshis, “in the beginning.” It begins by telling over the story of creation. If you rearrange the letters of the word Bereshis you have the word yere Shabbat, revere the Shabbos. The Baal Shem Tov taught, by observing the Shabbos according to its laws, with all their fine points and laws brings the forgiveness of sin.

 

            As a little boy, Rebbe Yisrael of Rizhin was once studying a tractate of Mishnah with his private melamed, teacher. “This tractate deals with a situation where a person for some reason has lost their sense of time and forgotten when Shabbos is,” his melamed explained. “But how can one possibly forget when Shabbos is”, interrupted the boy. Patiently, the melamed presented an example of a man who somehow got lost in a desert and lost all track of time thereby. “Still, it’s impossible to forget!”, the boy insisted. The melamed continued to explain how unpredicted situations could happen. Little Rebbe Yisrael still wouldn’t accept any of his explanations. “Its simply impossible to forget”, he claimed once again. Finally, the exasperated melamed asked him, “Why do you insist that this cannot happen”. The boy responded, “It’s quite obvious he said. On Shabbos, the sky looks different than it does all week. When one is in doubt, all he needs to do is to gaze up at the sky and he will surely see if it is Shabbos or not!”

 

            I’m sure not all of us could see the difference in the clouds during the weekdays and on Shabbos but this little boy was able to. Maybe you are able to sense it in another way because there truly is an obvious difference in the world physically and spiritually.

 

            Rabbi Chaim Zaitchyk said, “The peace and tranquility that are an essential ingredient of Shabbos should become part of one’s personality the entire week. If a person stays with his anger and quarreling, it is an indication that he has not integrated the fundamental message of Shabbos. The tranquility and serenity of Shabbos should be so compelling and so deep that it will have a lasting effect on a person’s nature. The internal peace that a person experiences on Shabbos should be internalized and its positive effects should be evident in one’s relationship with his family, friends, and neighbors.” (Consulting the Wise, 12,16)

 

 

            The Shabbos comes from the feminine aspect. This being the central point that draws all six points together. All week long in our toil to gain spirituality, we are on a male level. On the Shabbos, we are on a female level because we can soak up the fruits of all we have done during the week. Hence, a person could labor very hard spiritually all week long, but without the Shabbos he would have no means of receiving it. This is because the Shabbos is akin to the final Heh of the tatragrammaton. It is the hand that receives from above. Therefore, without the Shabbos, it is like cutting off a person’s hand, inhibiting him from receiving spiritually. It is similar to working for something but never receiving it. From this, you can see why the Shabbos is of such importance in Judaism. (Inner Space p.75)

 

            Chazal says that when you search for chametz, you are supposed to simultaneously search your deeds. The same should be so when you prepare for Shabbos. You must search your soul as to how to properly come close to Hashem.

 

            If a King offered you a key to his treasure box, would you not take it? For those of us that keep the Shabbos, it is difficult to understand how anyone would not accept the key to the treasure from the Master of the World. Then there are those of us that take the key by keeping Shabbos in all its laws but we do not attempt to open the treasure box. For those that go all the way though and open the Shabbos for themselves, they discover a light which shines seven days.

 

            It takes six days to prepare oneself physically and spiritually for Shabbos. If a person were to prepare five days then they would not be ready to take on the Shabbos. Look at the Shabbos as being the center of a circle. As you can see, all six days surround her. How can we not all look at Shabbos this same way? If only we all did, can you imagine? All of our days would be centered around her! This is how Shabbos should be in our eyes. The center of our lives!

 

Sunday                                                 Wednesday

Monday                SHABBOS              Thursday      

Tuesday                                                Friday

 

 

            Superficially, creation is characterized by the idea of plurality. The six days of the week accordingly parallel the diffuse disposition of the six Sefiros from Chessed to Yesod. It is only on the Shabbos that the vital unity of creation is realized. This is when creation is joined with Hashem. The Shabbos is therefore called the “mystery of Unity,” when all creation returns to its Source. (Zohar 2:135a)

 

 

            It says in Sharei Orah, you must be precise to fulfill the commandment to eat three meals in honor of the Shabbos because it entails unifying very holy things. It unifies this world and the world to come. The name of Hashem, YKVK is united with its essence, which is the third sphere with the seventh. The three meals on Shabbos each correspond to unifying the sefiros (There are ten spiritual Sefiros in which Hashem created which work to keep the world in balance. Every mitzvahh we do helps these sefiros to give off blessing to the world and become balanced again. The world will not be balanced again until the time when Moshiach will come. It is our job to fix these sefiros and we do this through following the Torah). The first seuda, meal we eat on Shabbos corresponds to Hashem’s name Adna, which becomes one on the Shabbos which is the essence of the seventh sefirah’s (Malkhus) unity. The second seuda we eat unifies the name YKVK and the third corresponds to Binah that is connected to the essence of Hashem’s name EKYE. This is the essence of the unity of three, the essence of the verse “and you will call the Shabbos Oneg, delight”. Therefore when a person observes the Shabbos desisting from doing labor and honors it by delighting in the three seudos, they become a true messenger of Hashem. How fortunate you will be in keeping Shabbos, for you will be a host to the ten sefiros (explained in more detail in Sha’are Orah).

 

The penalty for neglecting the three Shabbos meals is sickness and disease. The mitzvahh to eat these meals is part of the basis in celebrating the Shabbos with delight (Oneg). The opposite of “Oneg” in Hebrew is “nega” (plague). (Zohar Eikev 273a, Sefer Yetzirah 2:4)

 

Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Jose, “The person who observes the Shabbos, with enjoyments, will be blessed with boundless inheritance, as it is written (Isaiah 58,14), “Then shall you find delight in Hashem, etc… And I will enable you to enjoy the inheritance of Jacob, your father. (Ayin Yakkov 118)

 

            Rabbi Yehudah said in the name of Rab, “The person who observes the Shabbos, with delight, will be granted his heart’s desires, for it is said (Psalms 37,4) And delight in Hashem and He will give you the wishes of your heart. The meaning of delight means in the Shabbos given to us by Hashem. (Ayin Yakkov 118a)

 

            On Shabbos a person should not say, “Let’s go to sleep so that we’ll be able to work late on Motzei Shabbos” because it is forbidden to make plans on Shabbos for things to do the next day, even to make plans for writing Torah thoughts. The reason is that you are giving the impression that you are resting or sleeping on Shabbos for the sake of a weekday. What you should say is, “Lets lie down to rest because today is Shabbos.’ (Sefer Chassidim, Shabbos p.33)

 

 

            Praying on the Shabbos is extra special. The “other side” so to speak is set aside, and there is a manifestation of radiant Godliness. The prayers of the Shabbos are especially beloved on high. (Zohar II: 135, III: 243a) The gate of the inner court… shall be closed during the six working days, but on the Shabbos it shall be opened.”(Ezekiel 46:1) On the weekdays prayer needs much more effort then on the Shabbos though we are required to pray every day of the week. If we don’t pray during the six days of the week our prayer will simply not work on the Shabbos. Also on the Shabbos, our prayers should not be about mundane matters but should be more focused on our spiritual being and closeness to Hashem. This is why in the prayer books; the Shabbos prayers are completely different from the weekday ones. On Shabbos one must force themselves not to think about weekday activities and concerns. The Shabbos is a day of rest from all worries and concerns. It is a time to rejuvenate spiritually and physically. It is a true delight if we let it be. We must let go and give ourselves a break and let our minds refocus on the true purpose of life. We must lift up the remaining sparks that have fallen from the beginning of creation. Our lives should be spent trying to bring about the final redemption in our generation. The mitzvahh of keeping Shabbos truly has the power to bring redemption into our own lives as well as for the entire world. It isn’t enough to just keep Shabbos though; one has to live a life of Shabbos as learned above.                           

                            

Tefilah Shabbos

 

 

          Shabbos is the greatest gift in the world, Hashem. It is so holy, so precious. Thank You for giving us this special day when our soul shines double. No other nation has Shabbos but ours. What a present you have blessed us with!

 

          Help me to rest and have peace of mind on Shabbos. May I be a vessel to take in all the kedusha Shabbos has to offer to my soul. Let the excitement of Shabbos be appreciated by my family and those around me. Help me to prepare something each day of the week in preparation for the coming Shabbos.

 

          Hashem, please assist me to not be careless with my speech and actions on Shabbos. I want to make the most of out of this special day to grow spiritually, drawing closer to You. Open my heart and eyes that I should see the kedusha of Shabbos and not be held back by remembering weekday thoughts. 

 

          Giving Shabbos to myself is good but help me to taste the Shabbos by giving it to others as well. Hashem, I want to have guests for Shabbos but the burdens of the extra preparations thereby are difficult. Please ease my burden that I may give Shabbos to other people. Help me to participate in the hearing of the Torah portion and community activities in honor of this precious day.

          Thank you, Hashem for this beautiful day of blessing. All our sustenance comes from the three meals and prayers on the Shabbos. Therefore, may the suidos I make or participate in be ones of wholeness and tranquility.

 

          Rebbono Shel Ohlom, what would I do without the holiness of Shabbos in my life? Thank you, for this wonderful and important day of rest. That is, a day to reflect and appreciate all that You have given me. May I keep its laws and observe in the most respectful and observant way.

 

 

 

                  

                     


[1] Bereshis Rabbah 10:12 

[2] Heard in a shiur by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss

[3] Rebbe Nachman’s Stories

[4] Reishis Chochmah, Shaar Hakedushahh 3

[5] Makkoth 3:16

[6] Berachos 57b

[7] Exodus 3:13

[8] Kedushahs Levi, Ki Thisa p. 162 

[9] Exedus 31:17

[10] Toldos Yaakov Yosef, Hakdama

[11] Isaiah 56:2

[12] Likutey Eitzos 21

[13] Likutey Eitzos Shabbos, #12

[14] Inner Space p.88

[15] Eser Tzachtzachos, P. 55, #44

[16] Pesikta Rabbasi 23:2

[17] Likutey Moharan I, 31:2

[18] Beit Aharon, Kikkutim, p. 286

[19] Derech Chayim 7-42

[20] Pe’er Yitzchak, P. 125, #10

[21] Ein Yaakov 139

[22] Ibid

[23] Exodus 16.5

[24] Ayin Yaakov 117

[25] Proverbs 15:17

[26] Proverbs 17:1

[27] Isaiah 58:13

[28] Gitten 52a

[29] Sefer Chassidim p.35

[30] Sefer Chassidim page 31 

[31] Beitzah 15b

[32] Bereshis Rabbah 11:2

[33] Consulting the Wise, 6,10