Monday, August 07, 2006

Shabbos

SHABBOS & TORAH

We saw that the world was created through hiding and blocking of Hashem’s light. As each day of creation passed, more and more light was hidden from the universe.

Until Shabbos. Shabbos celebrates the end of the hiding, the end of the darkness. The thing about Shabbos is, that Shabbos should really have been the first day of the next week. If nothing was created on Shabbos, well, nothing was created on ANY day after the first 6. So what’s so great about Shabbos? Why is it different than any day after the sixth up until today?

The answer is that after the 6 days of creation, if there was nothing left to create, the week should have been over. The next day should have begun the first day of the next week, and we would have a 6 day week. But Hashem specifically made another day in the cycle where, even though another day was created, there was no additional physical thing that came into the world. Meaning, a day was CREATED where Hashem’s light was NOT hidden. This was able to happen because the amount of physical things in the world really should have taken 7 whole days to create. Instead, Hashem “rushed” and created them in 6. So the 7th day is the Day of Hashem’s Light, the day when the darkness ended.

Shabbos is a day which, if you are in tune with it, you can experience a bit of what is “behind the cardboard”. It is a day when, just like the first Shabbos, there is newness – an additional day that did not previously exist – but without the darkness of the physical universe. That is why we say Shabbos is “like Olam Habah”, which is the world “behind the cardboard mechitzah”. Shabbos is the day when we can rise above time, space, and physical restrictions.

That’s if you’re on that level. For us, at least if we keep Shabbos, that light affects our souls, it strengthens them, for our souls came from the “other side” of the mechitzah, and they are in a foreign environment here. They came from light, here to live in darkness. Keeping Shabbos imbues our souls with the light they so dearly miss, and strengthens them for the next week or darkness, and forever.

Torah, too, is from “behind the curtain”. It is that Essence of Hashem, it is what makes Hashem Hashem. When we learn Torah we plug in to the light that this world hides. Torah, too, exhilarates our Neshomas, charging them with a power that comes from Hashem’s world behind the Mechitzah.

Those two entities – Shabbos and Torah – are the highest voltage vitalization possible for our Neshomos. That is why a non-Jew is forbidden to keep Shabbos or learn Torah. Their Neshomos are from a different place, made from different stuff; it “short circuits” them to plug into the light on the other side of the Mechitzah. The Jewish Neshomah, on the other hand, lives off that light. That is why Shabbos is called Yoma D’Nishmasa, “The Day of the Neshomah”.

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"You must fear your father and mother, and keep my Shabbos, for I am G-d" (Leviticus 19:3).

The Gemora (Yevamos 5b and Bava Metzia 32a, quoted in Rashi's commentary to the above verse) explains:

"You might have thought that honoring your parents would take precedence over keeping Shabbos, so the Torah tells us instead, 'You must fear your father and mother, BUT STILL keep my Shabbos, because I am G-d and [even though you are obligated to honor your parents,] everyone, [including your parents] is obligated to honor Me. Therefore DO NOT LISTEN TO YOUR PARENTS TO BREAK MY COMMANDMENTS".

You are not doing your parents any favors by compounding their sin of desecrating the Shabbos with the additional sin of causing you to desecrate it as well. As the Gemora says, you may be obligated not to offend your parents, but your parents are obligated not to offend G-d. Therefore they have no right to ask you to do something that is offensive to G-d. Breaking Shabbos is way up there on the top of the list of things that offends Hashem.

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There’s no real magic wand for keeping Shabbos, that’s what bechirah is for, but there are things that may make it easier.

The main thing is to find religious people in your community to keep Shabbos with. It’s much harder if you’re the only one doing it, and you have no friends to be with the whole day, since they’re all being mechalel shabbos. Become part of a group.

Second, prepare before Shabbos some activity that does not involve chilul. A good book is the easiest idea. Go to www.eichlers.com which has a very broad array of topics to choose from. Now is a good time to put in an extra effort because the Shabbosos are so short there is very little time in the afternoon to get bored. Friday night is the only issue.

As far as forgiveness for Shabbos, Teshuva is the way. Do your best. Some sins are very hard to avoid. There is a “segulah” (a behavior that generates supernatural assistance) for forgiveness in the other “kores” area, namely, to say Krias Shem al haMitah (the shema for bedtime with its accompanying prayers) meticulously.

But one thing -- do NOT think that because you enjoy something it is permitted on Shabbos. The reason why things are prohibited on Shabbos is NOT because they are "work" (it is a loose translation of the word "melachah" but not accurate). Any hard work is prohibited even if it doesn't technically involve a Melachah, and Melachah is prohibited even if it does not involve hard work. If Melachah is enjoyable, it may not qualify as "hard work" but it would still qualify as "melachah" and is prohibited.

You need to keep in mind that you will not be living in your home forever. You will, IY”H have a home of your own where you can have a Shabbos the way you so clearly would love to, and not make the mistakes that have been made in your home in the past.

Also bear in mind that when this happens, you will possess an appreciation for religion that will be unshared by your friends who did not go through what you did. It will help you in bringing up your children, and impacting on the lives of others, who will value your doing Mitzvos because they mean something to you, not merely out of habit.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. This does not fix your problems, but you will find them, if you focus on that light, a bit more bearable to live with. Surround yourself with friends and people who care about you. But be careful – teenagers who are hungry for warmth are easy prey for guys who would use them in return for giving them an illusory, counterfeit warmth which, at the end, just makes it worse. Surround yourself with real friends.

One more thing, about Shabbos. Even though you may not feel it, your Neshomah does. Every time a person keeps Shabbos their Neshomah gets stronger. We can’t feel out Neshomos, but they do affect us in many, many ways. And this is true for each and every instance where you could break Shabbos, you want to break Shabbos, but you don’t. Even if you break Shabbos 10 times but you wanted to break it 11, that one time that you resisted strengthens your Neshomah. No amount of breaking Shabbos is good – it’s like smoking cigarettes, whatever amount you cut down helps - but whenever we put an effort into not breaking it, we get reward. Only you know where you holding today, spiritually. Only you know what you can and cannot yet do. But know that each and every small effort does not go unnoticed by Hashem.

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