Shabbat: A Different World

April 27, 2014

3 min read


Emor (Leviticus 21-24 )

For six days you may work, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord" (Lev. 23:3).

Not long after the Beit Halevi, the Rav of Brisk came home from Shabbat morning prayers, loud knocking was heard on his door. The Rav opened the door and found one of the community members, completely out of breath, with a face reflecting anguish and extreme stress.

"How can I help you?"

"My daughter has already been in labor for three days… The doctors say that both mother and child are at risk… life and death…Please, pray for them!"

The Rav just looked at him calmly. "Did you make Kiddush yet?"

"No, I have no appetite," the man answered.

"First, let us make Kiddush."

After Kiddush, the Rav turned to this unexpected guest: "Now, you must not have eaten your Shabbat meal yet. Come and join us for a Shabbat meal."

The man did not ask any questions. With faith in his rabbi, he obeyed. At the end of the meal, the Rav asked, "So, did you enjoy your meal?"

"Yes, I enjoyed the meal."

"Fine, now it is time to say Birkat Hamazon." After they had finished their blessings, the Rav sent the man to go and see how his daughter was faring.

The man came back an hour later to thank the Rav. Everything was in order; she had given birth to a baby boy! "But I do not understand why the Rav did not just pray for her? Why was it so important to the Rav that I had my Shabbat meal?"

The Rav answered him quoting the sentence, "and when you rejoice in your connection with God, He will fulfill all your heart's requests." Our rabbis learn from here that you are supposed to enjoy your relationship with God by making a Shabbat meal, and then God will fulfill all your heart's requests… "We do not have to make our requests to God verbally on Shabbat through prayer. We just need to enjoy the Shabbat meals. He knows what we want in our hearts, and He will take care of our needs."

In line with this, the Rav explained the Talmud that says )Shabbat 118b) A person who delights in the Shabbat, he is granted the requests of his heart. It does not say the requests of his mouth, for on Shabbat, one is forbidden to talk about his weekday, physical needs that involve doing Melacha (forbidden acts which are considered work) on Shabbat. However, on Shabbat, one is allowed to think about his weekday physical needs.

On Friday night, we change the wording of our prayers. All week long we say He who watches His nation Israel forever, but on Friday night we say instead He who spreads over us a Sukkah of peace. The switch is because on Shabbat, we get close to Hashem in such a way that we do not need to ask for a protection. We are so close that we are automatically being protected. It would be silly for a person talking to the king in his palace to ask him to watch over him. On Shabbat, as well, we do not have to ask for protection. We are just so close.

When we study Jewish history, we will learn that in all the places in exile where the Jewish communities kept Shabbat, the rate of intermarriage was very low. In all the places where the Jews did not keep Shabbat, intermarriage was so strong that Jewish identity faded, and the Jewish community disappeared.

A study was done in Globus, the economy newspaper in Israel, to find out the most common "superstition" of the 50 most successful business owners in Israel. The non observant business owners will not, under any circumstance, sign a business contract on Shabbat. Those Shabbat deals all went bad. On Shabbat, Hashem shows the world how things are supposed to be. God does not need us to work in order to give us sustenance. All the other creatures of the universe do not need to work, Hashem "sustains everything, from the eggs of lice to the huge horns of the Reem," an animal of gigantic proportions. Only humans need to work: it is a punishment for Adam for eating from the Tree of Knowledge. A Jew who works, or even talks about business on Shabbat, nothing good will come out of it. To remind us that God made the universe in six days, and He does not need us to work for a living. The Zohar says that God gave Shabbat a soul. He put into Creation only enough power to last for six days. The battery does not last more than that. On Shabbat, God recharges the world with a new soul that lasts for another six days. It is a day of recharge, not a day of work. God is our Manufacturer, and this is what it says in his instruction manual. Work is a punishment, not what God needs from us in order to sustain us. On Shabbat, we realize that God runs the world in a way different from how it appears to us.

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