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By Rabbi Binyomin Adler | Series: | Level:

The commentators grapple with the idea that Shabbos is a day of happiness, as we recite in Shemone Esrei yismichu vimalchuscha shomrei Shabbos vikorei oneg, they shall rejoice in Your Kingship – those who observe the Shabbos and call it a delight. Yet, throughout Jewish history, the Jewish People have suffered greatly and the day of Shabbos was not an exception. In this week’s parashah, the Torah discusses the consequences that will befall the Jewish People if they do not adhere to the Torah. It is said (Devarim 28:47) tachas asher lo avadata es HaShem Elokecha bisimcha uvituv leivav meirov kol, because you did not serve HaShem, your G-d, amid gladness and goodness of heart, when everything was abundant. The Gerrer Rebbe, the Bais Yisroel, writes that the Gemara (Chulin 101b) states that Shabbos is kivia vikyama, permanent and stationary. This alludes to the idea that despite the fact that the Bais HaMikdash has been destroyed, the power of Shabbos remains in a permanent state for the Jewish People. The Sfas Emes writes that the destruction was a result of the Jewish People not serving HaShem out of joy. It then follows that when the Jewish People are in exile and lacking abundance, and still they serve HaShem with joy, they will merit the Ultimate Redemption. The Bais Yisroel continues by saying that although it is said (Devarim 28:65) uvagoyim haheim lo sargia, and among those nations you will not be tranquil, this refers to the weekday. On Shabbos, however, the Jewish People will find peace. This idea, however, still requires further explanation. Have we not seen that even on Shabbos the Jewish People have suffered? During the Holocaust, Jews were at times tortured on Shabbos even more than they were tortured during the week. How, then, can we always be instructed to be joyful on the Holy Day of Shabbos? Perhaps the answer to this question can be found in our understanding of joy and redemption. While it is certainly easier to be at rest and full of joy when we are not persecuted by our enemies, there is a concept of inner joy that exists even at times of persecution and suffering. The Sefarim (Degel Machanei Ephraim quoting Tikkunim) write that although we read the tochacha, the rebuke that is found in this week’s parasha, as curses, concealed within the curses are blessings. The Bais Yisroel writes that one can overcome the curses by cleaving to HaShem. This, he writes, is reflected in Shabbos, as Shabbos is a blessing, and a curse cannot become attached to a blessing. It is noteworthy that the end of last week’s parasha discusses the commandment to eradicate Amalek, the nation who attacked us without warning when we left Egypt. The beginning of this week’s parasha discusses the commandment of bringing bikkurim, the first fruits, to the Bais HaMikdash. When one brings Bikkurim, he opens his declaration of gratitude with the words (26:5) arami oveid avi, an Aramean tried to destroy my forefather. Thus, at a time of heightened jubilation, we invoke the painful memory of destruction and exile. This is parallel to the idea that is reflected in Shabbos, where we demonstrate that despite the apparent curses that surround us, we are truly ensconced in blessing, and the curse will never be associated with the blessing. Thus, the idea that we must be joyful on Shabbos is not just a fantasy, but a reality. Shabbos is a day of joy, and HaShem should allow us to merit the ultimate joy, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Askinu Seudasa

Composed by the Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria Viiturin shavin lah umalka dileila diyisatar kola bikadish kadishin, and the seventy crowns of its wine and Kiddush. Then the King above is completely encrowned with holy sanctification. This passage alludes to the thirty-five words that are recited in the vayechulu portion of Kiddush and to the additional thirty-five words in the Kiddush blessing that follows the blessing over the wine. Furthermore, the word yayin, wine, equals in gematria 70. This is a significant idea, as when we recite Kiddush, we are entering into the secrets of the universe, as the word sod, secret, is also in gematria 70. It is incumbent on one reciting Kiddush on Shabbos to concentrate on the meaning of the words as the words contain many hidden secrets.

Shabbos in Tefillah

Lakeil asher shavas mikol hamaasim bayom hashevii nisalah viyashav al kisei kivodo, to the G-d Who rested from all works, Who on the Seventh Day was elevated and sat on the Throne of His Glory. This passage implies that throughout the week HaShem is not, so to speak, sitting on His Throne of Glory. How are we to understand that HaShem does not sit on His Throne of Glory during the week, especially in light of the fact that we recite in the prayer of Asher yatzar the words galuy viyadua lifnei chisei chivodecho, it is obvious and known before Your Throne of Glory. This prayer is recited every day of the week and we declare that HaShem reposes on His Throne of Glory. In The Siddur Otzar HaTefillos, the Anaf Yosef quotes the Kol Bo who writes that the explanation of this passage is that HaShem created an angel for every creation. On the first Shabbos of creation HaShem sat on His Holy Throne called all the angels together. When the angels arrived, HaShem descended from His Throne and placed the angel of Shabbos on the throne. The angels then began to sing praises to the angel of Shabbos. HaShem showed this display of joy to Adam HaRishon, and Adam began to recite Mizmor shir liyom haShabbos, a psalm, a song for the Shabbos day. Hashem said to Adam, “to the angel of Shabbos you sing praises and not to Me?” When the angel of Shabbos heard from HaShem that it is a good thing in Hashem’s eyes to sing praises, he descended from the Throne of Glory and declared “tov lehodos laHaShem,” it is good to thank HaShem, and all the angels responded ulizameir Lishimcho elyon, and to sing praise to Your Name, O exalted One. Thus, according to the opinion of the Kol Bo, we are declaring that after allowing the angel of Shabbos to ascend His Throne of Glory, HaShem, so to speak, returned to His Throne of Glory.

Shabbos Story

At the turn of the 19th century, before the First World War, there were still great rebbes that could heal; there was the Kerestirer Rebbe, Reb Yeshaya. He did not place his hands on a person or speak – but if you ate food in his house, you went away healed. When his wife Sarah died, the Rebbe wept terribly and would not be consoled. He told the Chasidim, “You probably thought that people who ate in my house were healed because of me. That’s not true. It was because of my holy wife, Sarah. Now that she’s gone I can tell you. Listen to this story of what happened. ‘In our younger days we were desperately poor. If we ate one meal a week we would have food to eat on Shabbos, but we wouldn’t be able to have any guests. So we fasted from Shabbos to Shabbos. Then we had enough food for ourselves and for some guests. One week, my holy wife was cooking on Friday for Shabbos, when a drunkard knocked on the door and was invited in. He was reeking of alcohol but he said to my wife, ‘I’m starving, do you have anything to eat?’ We had not eaten that whole week, but who knows how long he had been without food, and when someone says they’re starving, how can you not feed them? So my wife gave him from the food she had prepared for Shabbos. After finishing what she gave him, however, he asked, ‘Is there more?’ Each time he ate whatever was put before him and asked for more, until she said, ‘There’s not a crumb left.’ She gave him everything she had prepared for our Shabbos meals. She gave him everything gently and respectfully, because she was doing a great mitzvah and good deed. She didn’t judge him by how he looked or for his crude behavior, for who knows what troubles he had suffered? “Then this drunkard did something unusual. He asked, ‘Can I speak to your husband?’ My wife came to my room and told me about his request and, when I agreed, my wife sent him to me. When he came in, he no longer smelled and he didn’t appear drunk. In fact, his face was glowing, and I realized at once that this was Elijah the Prophet. He said to me, ‘I only came here to bless your wife. Her kindness has made a great impression in heaven. But we wanted to give her a final test to see if she was worthy of the great blessing we have in store for her. She passed the test.’ “What was the great blessing? It was the blessing of healing.” And that,” said the Rebbe, “was why the food my holy wife served healed whoever ate it.” [Mai Ber Yeshayahu, pp. 43-44.] When Rebbe Yeshaya of Kerestirer was on his deathbed and close to his final hours, he called over one of his intimates and whispered, “In a little while there will be a ‘funeral’ here and many people will be coming from far away. So please put a very big pot on the stove and boil a lot of potatoes, and then cook them with a lot of chicken fat, because I want all those Jews to have some tasty food after their long trip.” [Reshumim Bishimcha, p. 360]

Shabbos in Navi Shmuel I Chapter 9

In this chapter we learn of the episode of Shmuel informing Shaul that he will become the first king of the Jewish People. Shaul’s father sent him to seek out the lost donkeys and Shaul ends up meeting Shmuel, who invites him to eat with him at a festive meal. Prior to meeting Shmuel it is said that Shaul and his attendant saw maidens going out to draw water, and when Shaul and his attendant asked the maidens if this is where the seer was, the maidens gave a lengthy response. According to one opinion in the Gemara (Brachos 48b) the reason that the maidens elaborated on their answer was so that they could stare at Shaul’s beauty. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from this, and that is that when someone desires something, he talks about it at length. In a similar vein, Shabbos is referred to as yom chemdaso, the day of His desire. Shabbos is the day that HaShem desires, and HaShem desires that we should be constantly talking and thinking about His Holy Shabbos.

Shabbos in Agadah

The Imrei Emes, the Gerrer Rebbe, writes (Rosh Hashanah 5693) that the function of the Shofar is to arouse one to accept on himself the yoke of Heaven, and it is said (Tehillim 89:16) ashrei haam yodei teruah, praises to the people who know the shofar’s cry. Shabbos also reflects the idea of daas, knowledge, and it is said that daas refers to one who recognizes his Creator. The Sfas Emes writes that the function of the tekiah is to gather all the camps together. Regarding Shabbos it is said diisachadas biraza diechod, she unites in the secret of Oneness. Furthermore, it is said that the tekiah arouses kindness and compassion, as it is said (Bamidbar 10:7) uvihakhil es hakahal tiskiiu vilo sariu, when you gather together the congregation, you shall sound a long blast, but not a short blast. The tekiah also reflects joy, as it is said (Ibid verse 10) uvayom simchaschem uvimoadeichem uviroshei chodsheichem uskatem bachatzotzros, on a day of your gladness, and on your festivals, and on your new moons, you shall sound the trumpets. Regarding Shabbos we recite in Shemone Esrei the words yismichu vimalchuscha shomrei Shabbos vikorei oneg, they shall rejoice in Your Kingship – those who observe the Shabbos and call it a delight. Through the joy of Shabbos we arouse the compassion of HaShem.

Shabbos in Halacha

Another condition necessary to allow chazarah, returning food to the blech, is that one hold the pot in his hand the entire time that the pot is off the blech. It is not necessary, however, to keep the pot suspended in mid-air. Rather, one can set the pot down on a counter or a tabletop as long as one does not release his grip from the pot. If one sets the pot down and releases his grip, then it is forbidden to return the pot to the blech. If one rests the pot on the floor, then he must keep the pot partially raised the entire time. Once one sets the pot down completely on the floor, he cannot return the pot to the blech, even if he did not let go of the handle.

Shabbos in Numbers and Words

The Halacha is that after Shabbos when we recite havdalah, we take besamim, spices and inhale their fragrance. One of the reasons for this Halacha is because when Shabbos ends, the neshama yeseira, the extra soul that one gained with the onset of Shabbos, departs. When one takes besamim he is reviving himself. It is noteworthy that the word neshamah, soul (395), is equal in gematria to the word bivisamim, with spices (394).

Text Copyright © 2008 by Binyomin Adler and