Friday, October 29, 2010

Shabbos Royalty

Over the past few months, I've been listening to a series of shiurim (lectures) given by Rav Moshe Weinberger on the topic of Shabbos Kodesh, specifically the erev Shabbos preparations and the significance of the candle lighting. I highly recommend the series; I listened to a shiur every Friday as I went about with my own preparations for Shabbos Kodesh, and I found that the series deepened my appreciation for Shabbos, how inextricably intertwined it is with Creation, and gave me a glimpse at the sublime experience that Shabbos Kodesh can really be.

For the last shiur in the series, Rav Weinberger pulls out the big guns to leave us something to hold on to until a new series on Shabbos is available (there is a new chabura [study group] on the topic of Shabbos happening at the Aish Kodesh shul right now; my friend Dixie Yid is participating in it now. The shul's website has a teleconference number available for anybody interested.). Rav Weinberger quotes from the Rishonim a sefer called the G'vul Binyamin - apparently an obscure and very difficult sefer to learn, written by the earliest of our sages - and brings a kabbalah (in this sense, a tradition, although there are mystical connotations) that the author writes that he received from his own teachers about the roots of Shabbos.

Originally, HaShem created the world, with time and space being limited to only six days, each consisting of 28 hours. Altogether the week equals 168 hours, corresponding to the 28 "times" that Shlomo HaMelech refers to in Kohelet.

These six days asked HaShem for a king and HaShem replied that if they want a king, it has to be from amongst themselves. Just like when bnei Yisrael requested a king, it was understood that such a king would come from our midst, so too with the days of the week. Somehow, this "king" would have to come from them. Therefore, the days of the week agreed to each relinquish four hours of their own structure - a tremendous sacrifice on their part - so that a new day could be created, a day that is 24 hours long. Then there would be seven days of 24 hours each, again equaling to 168 hours in the week, and the six days of creation would have a king. This is Shabbos.

We know that Shabbos is royalty - we call it the "Shabbos Queen" and we wear our finery for Shabbos' honor. But more than that, royalty represents the idea of cohesion, the unifying factor of a nation. The King exerts his influence over us, leads us, gives us direction. Conversely, we know that "there is no King without a nation," - by rallying together under the banner of one sovereign, we face things as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, truly crowning our leader. Just as a King has a powerful influence in shaping our lives, Shabbos has the power to shape our week - for better or worse. If we observe Shabbos properly, with holiness and purity, that will extend into the week; if we don't give it the respect it deserves, if we squander our time on Shabbos with mundane affairs or God forbid desecrate the Shabbos - the quality of our week will be negatively affected.

The six days represent the six different directions, each branching off on its own, susceptible to the danger of aimless wandering, of lacking a solid grounding. Shabbos is their starting point, and gives them direction by projecting its holy influence over the other days of the week, who "willingly" accepted the yoke of Shabbos leadership. The holy AR"I HaKadosh describes it in his piyut, Azamer b'Shvachin as "To the right and to the left, and between them the Bride,"; the six days escort the Shabbos, flanking her on each side. This is, I suppose, one reason why the cutoff point for Shnayim mikra v'Echad targum of the previous week is Tuesday; Wednesday already "belongs" to the entourage of the approaching Shabbos while Tuesday is still part of the previous week's procession.

This Torah from Rav Weinberger blew me away, and is only a taste of how deep and truly beautiful the secrets of Shabbos are.

1 comment:

ramchal said...

great vort!