HaRav Moshe Meir Weiss

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Title: The Great Power and Beauty of Shabbos – Part Two

by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
Apr 28, 2008

We spoke already that on Shabbos, one must pursue menuchas Shabbos, rest on Shabbos, which means desisting from pursuing our personal needs and freeing ourselves from our mundane, weekday worries.


Let me give you an example of how hard we strive to preserve the trouble free cocoon of Shabbos.  When we say Shemone Esrei, it is our rarified time to stand before Hashem Himself and talk to Him, Face to face.  We would therefore think that on Shabbos our Shemone Esrei should be longer than during the week.  After all, we have more time on Shabbos; we are not in a rush to dash out to work, to catch an express bus or do carpool, or to make an early delivery.  Indeed, it is for this reason that we say, “Mizmor shir l’yom haShabbos, tov l’hodos Hashem - A special song of the Shabbos day, it is good to thank Hashem.”  Yet, amazingly, not only is our Shemone Esrei not longer, it is severely abbreviated, from nineteen blessings to a mere seven blessings.  Why is this?  I believe the answer is consistent with our theme – we sacrifice our special time withy Hashem in order not to verbalize a parade of petitions, such as cure us..., forgive us..., and give us our livelihood..., for such requests would remind us of our many needs and all that, in our mundane daily existence, we are lacking.  We are attempting to escape from all that on the Shabbos day.  Therefore, in order to preserve the serenity of Shabbos, we erase from our prayers all of our desperate requests and put them off until motzoi Shabbos.


Even more amazing is the expectation that we have for the sick person who perhaps is suffering from chronic back pain or agonizing migraines.  This person finds some relief in venting with a krech, a groan, a complaint – yet we say to him or her, ‘Shabbos hi melizok,’ it is Shabbos when we try valiantly not to cry out or complain.  Imaging what a sacrifice this is for the suffering person whose occasional groan elicits much needed attention!  Yet, we are so concerned to preserve the serenity of the Shabbos that we ask, Shabbos hi melizok, but in exchange, we offer an in credible reward, ur’fuah krova alovo, in that merit a cure is sure to come.


The Gemora in Masechtas Shabbos relates an incredible story to illustrate the great reward for banishing weekday concerns from one’s mind on the Shabbos.  It tells of a Chosid, a devout person, who noticed on Shabbos that there was a breach in the fence surrounding his field.  Instinctively, he made a mental note to repair the breach.  Then, he recoiled – remembering that it was Shabbos when he shouldn’t have been pondering such matters.  Because of this, he steadfastly made up his mind not to repair this breach.  The Gemora concludes that a miracle occurred and a tzlaf, a caper bush grew in front of the breach closing up the hole.  The tzlaf was the Talmudic wonder bush from which everything that grew upon it was edible; its berries, its leaves, its shoots and its buds were all tasty and very marketable.  The Gemora says that this Chosid went on to make his livelihood from this very caper bush.  Thus, we see how richly Hashem rewards those who diligently control even their minds from thinking about the workweek’s needs and problems.  What a wonderful treasure Hashem has given us.  This once in a week invitation from the mundane viscidities of life.


Often, I am asked the question whether it is halachically permitted to study for a test on Shabbos.  While I will refer everyone to his or her personal rav for the unique specifics of each case, one thing should be very clear.  Anything of a pressured nature is the absolute antithesis of what Shabbos was created to ensure:  that it is a day of serenity and tranquility absent of any pressures and agitations.


There is a good barometer if one can know if something is a proper Shabbos activity or not.  The Gemora states, “Kol hamehaneg es haShabbos, nosein lo mishalos libo – Whoever delights in the Shabbos will be given his heart’s desire.”  Note that the Gemora does not say b’Shabbos, on Shabbos.  Rather it says haShabbos, for our duty is to delight the Shabbos.  Thus, when we are about to do something, we must consider whether the Shabbos is receiving delight from this activity or not.  If we are unsure, then it is probably not the best way to use our holy Shabbos time.


In the merit of creating an aura and an ambiance of serenity on Shabbos, may hashem bless us with long life, good health and everything wonderful.


To be continued.

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(Sheldon Zeitlin transcribes Rabbi Weiss’ articles.  If you wish to receive Rabbi Weiss’ articles by email, please send a note to ZeitlinShelley@aol.com.)

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