HaRav Moshe Meir Weiss

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

by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
May 10, 2008


 We’ve been discussing the essential mission of ensuring that our holy Shabbos is preserved as an oasis of contentment and relief from the pressures of life.  We must realize that Hashem gives us great incentives to accomplish this goal.  The Gemora [Shabbos: 118] tells us in the name of Rav, “Kol ham’aneig es haShabbos nosnim lo mishalos libo – Whoever makes out of Shabbos a delight will be granted his heart’s desires.”  That is some heavy-duty payback!  On the same daf, the Gemora relates that whoever creates a delightful Shabbos will be granted “Nachalah b’lo mitzorim – A boundless inheritance.”  In today’s day and age, when everyone is so ‘investment conscious,’ this advises us that Shabbos is the ultimate investment and one whose yield is infinite in nature.


The Gemora also tells us not to be cheap on spending our hard-earned cash to create an exquisite Shabbos replete with delicacies and small pleasures.  Shabbos is a day to pamper ourselves in honor of Hashem’s gift to us.  To ensure that we don’t hold back from doing this, the Gemora informs us, “Hotzo’as Shabbos eino min haminyan – Money we spend on Shabbos is not deducted from the annual income that Hashem had set for us on Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur.  So, you say to yourself, ‘Wow!  That means that all of my Shabbos purchases are really free of charge!’  But, I have exciting news for you.  It’s really much more than that.  Any money that you spend on honoring the Shabbos is actually an investment that pays back double (as we say in the famous Shabbos song, sung all over the globe, Borcuh Keil Elyon), “V’ashrei kol choche, l’sashlumei cheifel – Fortunate are all those who wait to be paid back double (for their Shabbos expenditures).”  It is for this reason that the letters in the word Shabbos itself, in a gematria known as mispar koton, hint at this doubling effect.  (In mispar koton, a letter’s gematria is calculated and the zeros are disregarded, i.e., in regular gematria, the letter lamed is 30 and the letter reish is 300 but in mispar koton, both are nevertheless reckoned as 3.)  This is because the letter shin is three, while beis (two) and sof (four) combined equal six, hinting to the doubling power of the holy Shabbos.  This interesting doubling effect is true in the gematria of Yom Tov as well.  Yom Tov is called moed, festival.  In regular gematria, mem equals forty, while vav (six), ayin (seventy) and daled (four), i.e., the remainder of the word moed, equals eighty, again indicating the doubling powers of our festivals.


Rebbe Yishmael reveals to us in an exciting Gemora [Shabbos: 119a], that people become wealthy in Eretz Yisroel through the mitzvah of giving maser, tithes.  In Bavel, where there were great Torah academies (for example the great academy of Sura was around for almost 1500 years), people merit wealth by giving respect to Torah scholars.  In the rest of the world, concluded Rebbe Yishmael, people become wealthy by giving honor to the Shabbos.


I have heard from people who have struggled at attempting to keep Shabbos that these promises just don’t compute.  Especially when they are in weekend-based businesses where their client base is almost exclusively over the weekend when people are not working, they argue, ‘If I close my shop on Shabbos, I’ll be ruined.  I could show you a graph,’ he persists, ‘of the consequences when I experienced not working on Shabbos.’  We must realize that we can’t make these arguments since we have insufficient data.  Although on paper it looks like the Sabbath observer is making less money, to the contrary, if he didn’t keep Shabbos, his medical insurance might have doubled, his water boiler might have broken, or even worse, he might have become sick of laid-off from his job.


In 1937, when Rav Moshe Feinstein, Zt”l, Zy”a, came to this country and we were in the throes of the depression.  Many Jews were succumbing to work on Shabbos arguing that otherwise they just wouldn’t be able to survive.  Rav Moshe gave a passionate drasha explaining that Hashem grants everyone his or her sustenance on the Day of Atonement.  The only reason why we have to work is that we are expected to do our own hishtadlus, we have to hold out our hands in order to get Hashem’s gifts.  Rav Moshe powerfully concluded, ‘Do you think that by holding out our hands in the desecration of Shabbos, we are going to get even one penny of G-d’s promise to us?’


In the merit of our diligently preserving the beautiful spirit of Shabbos in our homes and in our lives, 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.)