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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Shabbos Project Special Edition

Parshat Shabbos Project Special Edition

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Special Shabbos Project Edition 11th of Cheshvan, 5777 | November 12, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik HaRa


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Special Shabbos Project Edition
11th of Cheshvan, 5777 | November 12, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky shlita
The Shabbos Soul

Chazal (Beitzah 16a) tell us that Hashem grants each person a neshama yeseira at the commencement of Shabbos and takes it away at the end of Shabbos. The simple understanding of a neshama yeseira is that the neshama (soul) of each Jew feels different. Yet, interestingly, Rashi (ibid.) captures the meaning of this Chazal with a very unique and perplexing description:

“The neshama yeseira is a widening of one’s heart… which allows one to eat and drink and yet his soul does not despise himself.”

Rashi is essentially telling us that the neshama yeseira enables a person to not despise eating on Shabbos. Yet what does this mean? While it is true that one should strive to eat and drink l’shem shamayim, in order to have the strength to serve Hashem, at its most basic level, what does it mean that on Shabbos one is able to withstand eating?

In truth, a person would not need to eat if not for the fact that he is human. And if a person would not need to eat, doing so would be superfluous. When Moshe Rabbeinu ascended Har Sinai, he did not eat anything. He was being sustained and nourished by ruchniyus, spirituality.

On Shabbos, when we receive the neshama yeseira, we are elevated to a level of tremendous spirituality. Our physical life takes on additional holiness. The question therefore becomes how our bodies which are now on a higher spiritual plane can intake something which is so physical? How can something spiritual, our bodies, handle consuming food?

This is what Rashi means. Shabbos is so great that a person is able to withstand eating. While generally the consumption of food is a physical act, on Shabbos, that changes. Eating on Shabbos has a different quality. Even the gashmiyus, the physicality, takes on spiritual dimensions. Shabbos gives physical food a taste of spirituality. Our otherwise physical bodies are spiritually enhanced by the neshama yeseira, and with the infuse of Shabbos and the elevation of food to a greater spiritual degree, we can withstand it. We do not despite food in the least, but rather fully enjoy it. With our spiritually elevated body consuming spiritually elevated food, there is perfect harmony.

This is what Shabbos offers us. A day when we ourselves are uplifted and our food is uplifted. And together, true enjoyment of Shabbos is achieved.

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein
Welcome to Shabbos…

“Are there any other Jews in the world?” That was the question Keli Rae’s granddaughter asked her grandmother before the Shabbos Project.

Fernley, Nevada is a small town with just under 20,000 residents in total. There are hardly any Jews there. But Keli Rae is one of them.

Keli Rae emigrated there a number of years ago from Australia to live with her children and grandchildren. She knew of no other Jews in the city. And then she heard about the Shabbos Project, and wished she could reach out to some other Jews. But she didn’t know where to turn because Fernley has no Jewish organization, no shul and no Jewish school.

Posting a message online about the Shabbos Project, she wrote, “If there are any Jews in Fernley, please contact Keli Rae.”

Six families contacted her. Joining together for Shabbos, each family contributed something different. One family brought along Kiddush cups, another supplied candlesticks which had been inherited, and another provided delicious Shabbos food.
“And now,” said Keli Rae, “my granddaughter knows the answer to her question.”

Chazal (Yerushalmi Taanis 1:1) state that if the Jewish people would keep only one Shabbos, Mashiach would come. At first glance, this Gemara is very perplexing. What correlation exists between Shabbos and geulah, redemption?

The answer is that Shabbos is exactly what redemption is all about. Geulah is the transformation of the world. When the world is redeemed, it is transformed and changed into something completely different. A paradigm shift occurs and something new and powerful emerges.

Our Sages mean to convey that there is one particular experience in the world that can change and touch humanity in the profoundest and deepest of ways. And that is Shabbos. Both on a personal and nationalistic level, Shabbos has the potential of uplifting the life of every member of Klal Yisrael.

This in essence is what the Shabbos Project is about. If Klal Yisrael would keep one Shabbos, they would be redeemed, transformed and uplifted from that Shabbos experience.

Not coincidentally, Shabbos itself is intertwined with the Creation of the World. In contrasting Shabbos with the rest of the week, the Torah states, “For six days G-d created the heaven and the earth and on the Seventh Day, He rested and was refreshed” (Shemos 31:17). The Ohr HaChaim observes that the verse should have more accurately said, “For in six days G-d created the heaven and earth…” as that is the true meaning of this passage. What does it then mean that Hashem created the world “for six days”?

The Ohr HaChaim explains that Hashem in fact created the world to last for only six days. In essence, every six days the world ceases. The shelf life of the world is six days, after which it expires. Yet then Shabbos arrives and recreates and refreshes the world. It breathes new and fresh life into the universe and perpetuates its existence for another six days of the week.

Such is the phenomenal creative power of Shabbos. Paradoxically, the one day a week of Shabbos in which Hashem did not create anything is the very day which creates and sustains the entire next week. Geulah, like Shabbos, shares this same transformative power. Redemption recreates us and recreates the world. And that indeed is what the Shabbos Project is about. It is about recreating ourselves using the special power of Shabbos.

The Talmud (Shabbos 10b) relates that before Hashem commanded the Jewish people in the mitzvah of Shabbos, He summoned Moshe Rabbeinu and said, “Go tell Klal Yisrael that I have a precious gift hidden away in my storehouse, and Shabbos is its name.” Shabbos is no less than a beautiful gift Hashem stored away especially for us.

Interestingly, Shabbos is one of the few mitzvos which is depicted as being a gift the Jewish people received from Hashem. Yet it is exactly that: a gift. The meaning, joy and beauty Shabbos offers us in unlike any other. In fact, the Peleh Yoetz, one of the classical works in Jewish literature, in discussing how one can achieve simcha shel mitzvah, infusing joy into his mitzvah performance, uses the example of Shabbos:

“Shabbos is akin to a king who commands his nation to wear nice clothes, eat delectable food and spend time with family and friends. If you follow through with these orders, says the king, I will handsomely reward you.”

Can we imagine? Hashem gives us the greatest gift of all and tells us that if we accept and embrace it we will receive unimaginable heavenly reward. Who would not wish to partake of this magnificent offer?

Yet how can we share this gift with others? One simple way is inviting guests over to our home and allowing them to personally experience Shabbos. Yet there is another way we all can reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters. And that is teaching them how to keep Shabbos in their own homes. We must encourage and instruct others in the proper ways of observing Shabbos, even if they have never done so before. And if Shabbos can be kept once, it can be kept again and again.

One of the greatest kiruv stories is found in our very own Tanach. Elkanah, father of the great prophet Shmuel, returned to Klal Yisrael the special mitzvah of Aliyah L’Regel. The Midrash relates that when Elkanah saw the Jewish people being remiss in taking the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he sought to little by little make a change. And so, as he himself would make the trek to Jerusalem, he would stop off at each city along the way and encourage people to join him. Slowly but surely, says the Midrash, more and more people began joining Elkanah. And no sooner than later, the mitzvah of Aliyah L’Regel was reinstated among Klal Yisrael.

If we all join together, we too can bring the mitzvah of Shabbos to all of Klal Yisrael. Before us lies this great opportunity and responsibility to all of world Jewry. It is something which will surely uplift and transform each and every Jewish city, community, family and individual, and herald the long-awaited geulah. May it be this Shabbos.

Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman
The Wondrous Shabbos Table

For years, my next door neighbors have been an Italian couple with whom I share a wonderful relationship. On one Shabbos their niece rang my doorbell and stood waiting with a basket full of fresh figs which she had just cut down from her own yard. She asked me if I could hold onto it for her aunt, who was our neighbor, as she was not home at the moment. Telling her that it was the Sabbath, I said that she could put the basket on the kitchen counter and leave a note on her aunt’s door that we have the figs. Whenever her aunt would come over, we would direct her to take the basket.

Half an hour later our doorbell rang again. It was our next door neighbor. Confirming that her niece had brought her fresh figs, I indicated that they were lying in the kitchen. I then returned back to my seat at the Shabbos table with my family as she proceeded to walk towards the kitchen through our dining room.

As she walked by our table and took note of the children dressed in their finest clothing, the table beautifully set and the wonderful meal being served, she began to cry. “Do you do this every week?” she asked. “Twice a week,” I replied, “Friday night and Saturday morning.” “That is so wonderful,” she said, “we do it twice a year.” She then continued to pick up the figs and leave the house.

A few weeks later I met her in the street. Without hesitation, she said to me, “I am still telling my friends about the Sabbath meal.”

There is a lot to be said about the Shabbos table. It is a special time when we enjoy each other’s company, sing zemiros and share words of Torah, eat delicious foods and bask in the aura of Shabbos. It is most certainly something we should anticipate and look forward to all week long.

Rebbetzin Esti Kimche
Welcome Home, My Beloved

לכה דודי לקראת כלה

Come my Beloved, to greet the Bride

On his way out from shul in Jerusalem, Dan Eisenblatt approached a boy standing in the back. Dark skinned with curly black hair, the boy appeared to be of Sephardi descent, perhaps from Morocco. “Good Shabbos,” Dan said as he extended his hand, “would you like to come to my house tonight for the Shabbos meal?” The boy’s face immediately turned from a worried look into a bright smile. “Yes I would; thank you very much.”

Making their way home and sitting at the table, Dan was about to recite Kiddush when he noticed the boy fidgeting through the siddur in his hands. “Can I help you find something?” Dan asked with a smile. “Is there a song you would like to sing?” There is a song I would love to sing, but I cannot find it. It was the one we sang tonight in the synagogue. What was its name? Is it called something ‘Dodi’?” “Yeah,” replied Dan, “it was Lecha Dodi.” And so, the two of them began to sing Lecha Dodi. That night they sang Lecha Dodi not once, not twice, but nine times. The boy kept on asking to sing Lecha Dodi over and over again.

As the meal continued, the two of them enjoyed each other’s company. Finally, Dan turned to the boy and asked, “I haven’t asked you yet, but where are you originally from?” The boy stared down at the floor. With a soft voice, he muttered, “Ramallah.” Dan, assuming that he did not hear right because Ramallah is an Arab city, acted as if heard the boy say Ramla, a Jewish city. “Oh, I know of Ramla. I have a cousin who lives there; his name is Ephraim Warner.” “No, no,” interrupted the boy, “there are no Jews in Ramallah.” “Ramallah?” Dan confusingly thought to himself. “What have I done? Did I invite an Arab?” Mustering the courage, Dan continued his questioning. “I am sorry, but I am a bit confused. Come to think of it, I haven’t asked for your name. What is it?” The boy, looking nervous, said, “Machmud ibn Esh-Sharif.”

Dan sat there speechless. What could he say? Machmud finally broke the silence and hesitantly began, “I was born and grew up in Ramallah. As a young boy, I was taught to hate Jews and feel that killing them was heroic. But I always had my doubts because I had been taught, ‘You are to desire for your brother that which you desire for yourself.’ I couldn’t bring myself to hate Jews. I asked my father why the Arabs treat the Jews so terribly, but he became enraged with me and threw me out of the house.

As I returned home one night to pack my belongings, my mother came into my room. I said to her, “I want to go live with the Jews for a while and find out what they are all about. Perhaps I will even want to convert.” As I continued to speak, her face was turning paler by the minute. Finally she said, “You don’t have to convert; you are Jewish.” I was shocked. My head started spinning and I couldn’t speak. “What do you mean?” I asked. “According to Jewish tradition,” she explained, “the religion goes after the mother. I am Jewish, and that means that you are Jewish. I made a mistake by marrying an Arab man, but I want you to know that you are a Jew.”

As I continued to gather my things together in shock, my mother approached me again with some papers in her hands. “Here,” she said, “I want you to have this.” Giving me my own birth certificate and her old Israel ID card to prove she was Jewish, I clutched them tightly. “I have them here with me, but I don’t know what to do with them.” My mother, still holding one more piece of paper, stood there hesitantly. She then said, “You might as well take this. It is an old photograph of my grandparents when they went to visit the grave of our ancestors.”

Dan gently placed his hand on Machmud’s shoulder. “Do you have the photo?” “Sure I do; I always carry it with me.” Handing the picture to Dan, he read the inscription on the grave and nearly dropped the photo. Rubbing his eyes to make sure he was seeing correctly, he was in utter disbelief. The grave of this ancestor, the great-grandparent of Machmud, was none other than that of Rav Shlomo Alkabetz, the author of the Lecha Dodi.

Every Jew is part of a beloved and treasured nation. And at times, perhaps to our dismay, someone who appears to be a cousin of ours is in fact a brother of ours. They themselves may even be unaware of their past, yet still feel a deep yearning to connect to their roots. And when the moment arrives and they reunite with their past history buried deep in the recesses of their heart, all that can be heard is the wonderful, melodious voice of their soul returning to its treasured family. And yes, those musical notes will be sung over and over again and resonate deep into the night.

Mr. Charlie Harary
Of Wells and Spouses

אשת חיל מי ימצא

A Woman of Valor, who can find?

One of the beautiful customs performed after the singing of Shalom Aleichem is the singing of Eishes Chayil. A beautifully worded hymn composed by Shlomo HaMelech and taken from the last chapter in Mishlei, we fill our homes and tables with melodious song. Yet why in fact do we sing Eishes Chayil on Shabbos? While simply understood, it is an expression of appreciation for all that our wives have done to prepare a wonderful meal, what underlying relationship is shared between Eishes Chayil and Shabbos?

The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:8) relates that in the process of creating the world, Hashem paired each day of the week with another. In the words of the Midrash, each day was given a corresponding “spouse.” Sunday was paired with Monday, Tuesday with Wednesday and Thursday with Friday. Yet Shabbos remained alone. Approaching Hashem, Shabbos said, “Master of the Universe, to every day you gave a match, except me. Who will be my spouse?” Hearing Shabbos’ complaint, Hashem said, “Your spouse will be the Jewish people.”

What exactly does this Midrash mean? In what way are we and Shabbos spouses?

As illustrated throughout the Torah, our Avos and Imahos most often met one another at a well. Eliezer on a mission to find a wife for Yitzchak met Rivkah at a well, as did Yaakov and Rachel and Moshe and Tzipporah. What, though, is the deeper meaning behind this? What does a well have to do with marriage?

In Hebrew, the word for a well is באר, be’er. Be’er, though, has an additional meaning: explanation. The reason for the similarity between “well” and “explanation” is that they are one and the same. A well is the conduit between that which is hidden and revealed. It allows water which is concealed to be brought into the open. An explanation accomplishes the same. It takes something which is vague and unclear and makes it comprehensible.

Marriage functions in a similar way. The ultimate goal of marriage is for the husband and wife to bring out each other’s inner potential. It is not about fulfilling one’s own personal needs, but rather about unearthing the deep and inner greatness dormant within one’s husband or wife. This is how we grow as people, as spouses and as parents.

The reason the well served as the perfect site for meeting one’s spouse is because the well embodied the essence of marriage: bringing out the hidden potential of the other.

This is why we sing Eishes Chayil especially on Shabbos. Eishes Chayil is a praise to Shabbos, as it is a praise to our wives. We tell Shabbos, “If not for you, I would not be who I am today. It is thanks to you that I can come close to Hashem and attain greater heights in spirituality. It is you who bring out my inner greatness and potential.” Shabbos offers us this beautiful gift and opportunity, and we show our appreciation by expressing our deepest praise.

Eishes Chayil is thus the perfect synthesis and blend of our marriage to our spouse and our marriage to Shabbos. In both instances, we have been given the perfect conduit to reach our true potential and inner greatness.

Rabbi Akiva Tatz
The Transcendence of Wine

ברוך אתה... בורא פרי הגפן

Blessed are You… Who creates the fruit of the vine

Every Jew faces a tremendous conflict. On the one hand, Judaism teaches the idea of perishut, detachment from the world; on the other hand, we are obliged to live within it and engage it. The ultimate symbol of this dichotomy is wine. Wine is a substance which when used correctly is transcendent; yet when used incorrectly, makes its victim part of the scenery.

At every moment of transition from the physical to the spiritual we take a cup of wine. When two people get married, the most transformative of all human experiences, there is a cup of wine accompanying the ceremony. When the week transcends into the holiness of Shabbat, we as well use a cup of wine. Havdalah is exactly the same. Havdalah is giving closure to Shabbat and entering a new week for which we can prepare to make the next Shabbat that much more spiritually energized. In Kabbalistic terminology, this is called yeridah l’tzorech aliyah, descent for the sake of ascent.

Wine is the substance that can most potently make one either a part of the physical or the spiritual. In one report from a city hospital in Boston, the number of alcohol-related admissions was 50%. Yet in Judaism we drink wine all the time. At eight days old we start putting wine into an infant’s mouth. While most countries forbid consumption of alcohol until age eighteen or twenty-one, we allow it at a mere eight days. But this is because we look to engage the material world and spiritualize it, and wine is the perfect symbol of that.

The Vilna Gaon writes that wine is the only physical substance that obeys the rules of the spiritual. Spiritual matters always get better with time, as is the case with wisdom and judgment. Physical matters, however, get worse with time. The one exception is wine. It is a substance unlike other physical substances for it improves with time. It is thus an avenue of access to the spiritual world. But we are still conflicted. Are we to disengage from the physical world or engage it?

The answer is that we are required to involve ourselves in the material world thoroughly and deeply. To what extent? To the exact degree which is necessary. Drinking wine for the right reasons or engaging in the pleasures of this world to be healthy and for mitzvah-related purposes is absolute sanctity. How much food should we eat? As much as necessary. But beyond that, we have become a victim of the material world. It has mastered us.

The physical world is a vehicle for elevating us to our highest purpose. Wine in this respect is the perfect medium for having us transcend physical constrictions and tapping into the greatest of spiritual energies.

Rabbi Yossi Mizrachi
Shabbat on Television

Growing up in a non-observant home, Dave winded up in yeshiva at Ohr Somayach in Monsey. As time progressed, he began observing Shabbat and growing in his understanding of Torah and mitzvot. After spending a period of time in yeshiva, he decided that he should return home to his parents.

“If you return home,” a rabbi of his explained, “it will be very difficult for you to keep Shabbat. Here in yeshiva everyone keeps Shabbat and davens, while at home you have no rabbi, no shul and a non-observant home. We recommend you stay here at the moment.” After some back and forth, Dave finally chose to leave.

Finally at home, Shabbat was to begin in just a few hours. “What am I going to do? Stay at home all day?” Dave wondered. “My parents watch television, and it will be very challenging to keep Shabbat.” And so he turned to G-d. “G-d, if everything they taught me in yeshiva is true give me a sign. If You give me a sign, I promise I will keep Shabbat for the rest of my life.”

Shabbat began but no sign. “You know what G-d? I’ll give you an extension until midnight. If by midnight You give me a sign, I will not break Shabbat.” Came midnight but no sign. “Okay G-d, I’ll give you one more extension so you won’t say I’m unfair. 12:15.” Fifteen minutes later, still no sign. And with the click of a button, on went the television.

As Dave turns the television on, he sees the David Letterman show. Friday night at 12:15, David Letterman is interviewing a well-known filmmaker. “So,” David Letterman asks his guest, “what have you been up to lately?” “I just got back from Israel,” the filmmaker replies. “Oh really, did you learn anything you can say in Hebrew?” “In fact I did.” Turning to David Letterman, he says, “Shabbat Shalom Dave!” Staring at the television Dave is shocked. With his own eyes he just saw exactly what he needed: Shabbat Shalom Dave!

Sometimes we are looking and looking all over the place for a message, yet we seem unable to find it. But then the switch goes on and lights up right before our eyes exactly what we needed to see and hear. “I am here,” Hashem says, “make sure you don’t forget.”

Rabbi Fischel Schachter
The Special Secret

While some people enjoy the delectable taste of fish, others do not. And some, in fact, not only dislike the taste of fish, but it makes then nauseous. A cousin of mine was one of those individuals. He literally loathed fish. On Shabbos when his mother would serve fish, he couldn’t stand to smell or taste it.

One day, he became a chassan. Planning to get married and become part of a new family, his own family reminded him of his repugnance of fish. “You know,” they said, “you are going to have to eat fish when you get married. What will happen when you visit your in-laws and your wife tirelessly works to prepare delicious fish, and you say you don’t like it! You will hurt her feelings.” Fully convinced that his like or dislike of fish would make or break his marriage, the poor boy forced the fish down his throat. Week after week he slowly adjusted himself to the smell, taste and texture of fish. And indeed, after a while he was somewhat able to tolerate it. And then came the big day of his wedding.

As the chuppah came to a close, he headed to the Yichud room where the chassan and kallah spend their first moments together as husband and wife. Known to be a very special time, my cousin of course was as happy as could be. But then his kallah had a surprise for him.

“Can I tell you something personal?” she said. Thinking that she had something serious and worrisome to tell him, my cousin embraced himself for the worst. “Yeah, sure, what is it?” “I know it is a Jewish thing to eat fish, but I really cannot stand it. The smell, taste and texture really make me feel sick.”

Oftentimes we worry how others will perceive us. With self-consciousness, we tend to tailor our behavior and act in ways pleasing to others. But then we come to realize that people will appreciate us for who we are. We need not act unlike our true selves in order to curry favor and win the respect of others. There will indeed be someone who loves us despite all our foibles and dislikes. And in fact, sometimes we will pleasantly find out that they love us precisely because of our dislikes. Even if we don’t like fish, we have nothing to worry about.

Rabbi Label Lam
A Wise Blessing

ואכלת ושבעת וברכת את ד' אלקיך

And you shall eat and be satiated and bless Hashem your G-d

Years ago, I used to visit a man named Mr. Levy in Manhattan every Tuesday morning. Teaching him the basics of the Aleph-Beis, every week I made my way over to the building he lived in and spent time with him. It was in that building that a non-Jewish receptionist worked at the front desk.

My routine was to stop off at Mom’s Bagel and pick up a muffin and coffee on my way to see Mr. Levy. However, on one occasion, the bus was late and I was unable to eat anything before arriving. It was only after teaching Mr. Levy that I finally had a moment to take a bite. And so, I took a seat in the reception room and finished off my muffin and cold coffee.

I then began reciting the after-blessing of Al Hamichya. And of course, it was exactly as I was making the bracha that the receptionist began asking me something. But considering that I could not stop in the middle, I continued on knowing that in just a moment I would respond.

As I finished the blessing, I walked over to her explaining that I was not trying to be rude but was rather in the middle of making an after-blessing. “After-blessing?” she said in her Baptist-ministerial tone of voice. “We say Grace, a blessing before we eat.” “We also make a blessing before we eat,” I replied, “but who remembers to make a blessing after they eat?”

Listening intently to my response, her jaw dropped open. “That’s wisdom,” she said.

As we sit down to recite Birchas HaMazon, we would be wise to take a moment and reflect upon the countless steps entailed in preparing a meal. From falling rain to planting, plowing, harvesting, sifting and cooking, each and every bite of food is no less than an intake of a miracle. Yes indeed, there is much wisdom to recognizing after our stomachs are full and plates put away that we have much to be grateful to Hashem for.

Rabbi Maimon Elbaz
The Shabbos Break-in

It didn’t seem like this Shabbos would be any different than every other wonderful Shabbos for Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Grossman, Rav of Migdal Ha’Emek, Israel. But then, something quite unusual and surprising occurred.

Hearing some noise in his home, Rabbi Grossman wondered who it could possibly be. Making his way over to where the source of the rummaging sounds were coming from, he soon stopped in his tracks. Taken aback, before his eyes stood a burglar. A Jewish burglar. Quietly tiptoeing backwards, Rabbi Grossman headed towards the front door and locked it. Yet he did not first walk outside and then lock it. Rabbi Grossman locked the doors while staying inside. He did not wish for the burglar to escape that easily. And so, there remained Rabbi Grossman and the burglar alone with locked doors.

Walking back towards the man shuffling through his house and looking for any valuables he could grab, Rabbi Grossman broadly approached him. “Can I help you?” asked Rabbi Grossman. “What are you looking for?” Perturbed, the burglar just stood there.

“I am going to give you a choice,” continued Rabbi Grossman. “I can call the police now and they will be over here in a few minutes to arrest you. Or, I will offer you an alternative option. You can come here and spend a Shabbos with me from Friday night through Saturday evening. If you choose the latter, I will forego calling the police and will forget about this whole incident.”

The burglar continued to stand there startled. Hearing the ultimatum he was being offered, he said, “That’s all I have to do? Just be your guest for the Sabbath?” “That’s all,” said Rabbi Grossman. “I just want you to see what a Sabbath is like.”
And so, a date was set, and with that the burglar was on his way out the door.

While the burglar could have easily overlooked the whole deal made, he in fact kept to his word. As an irreligious Jew, he had never before experienced Shabbos in his life. Yet now would be the first time he would.

Accompanying Rabbi Grossman to shul, he was mesmerized by the beautiful Friday night prayers, delicious food, inspiring zemiros and enlightening Torah thoughts. By the time Shabbos came to a close, he had just gone through a life changing experience. Extremely interested in learning more about Judaism, he abandoned his unlawful behavior and instead went on to study more about his beautiful Torah heritage and roots.

And today, he is a Torah observant Jew.

It all began with those words, “I just want you to see what a Sabbath is like.” Once this burglar experienced one Shabbos, it was the beginning of a new life. Its beauty and meaning penetrated his neshama, and no matter how far away he was from any semblance of Judaism and connection to Hashem was no deterrent. A new life he could never have imagined awaited him. All thanks to Rabbi Grossman and that one Shabbos. Yes, just one Shabbos.

Rabbi Mordechai Becher
A Day of Rest

I remember once spending a Shabbos in Kowloon, a town in Hong Kong. Staying in the Holiday Inn hotel, I was given a room on the eleventh floor. It would have been no problem being that high up in the building except for one very important consideration: Shabbos. Not being able to take the elevator, I would now be left to taking the stairs.

And so, there I was one Shabbos jogging up the steps. Breathing heavily, I continued to push myself knowing that if I ever wished to make it to my room, it would take a nice deal of exertion.

Yet then I spotted another man coming down the steps in my direction. Lifting my head up, there stood a waiter from the hotel. “Excuse me sir,” he said, “why don’t you use the elevator?” Looking at him, I said in all seriousness, “Because it is my day of rest.”

He stared at me and I stared at him as we both felt this cultural gap widening by the moment. “Oh,” he said, “that’s wonderful.” And with that, he scurried off.

While we are all familiar with the fact that Shabbos is a day of rest, what in fact does that mean?

In Los Angeles, there is a time management firm with a number of consultants. The purpose of this company is to provide individuals and families with tips and advice as to how they can maintain a calmer and less stressful lifestyle.

In one scenario, a consultant sat down with a family and began discussing what exact issues they were having and what could be done to possibly solve them. After a while, the consultant came up with the following plan.

“Here is what you should do,” he told them. “Choose one of the two days of the weekend, Saturday or Sunday, and on that day do not answer the phone, look at the financial section of the newspaper, watch television or listen to the radio. In addition, make sure to have at least two meals together with the whole family. And lastly, avoid putting extra stress on yourself by driving in LA traffic. Don’t go anywhere where you need to drive. Only go somewhere which is within walking distance of your house. If you follow these instructions, I confidently feel you will see your life transformed.”

True to the consultant’s words, the family did as he instructed and reported wonderful improvements in their life.

Sound familiar?

It’s unbelievable. Here walks in a time management consultant and tells a family to keep Shabbos and they pay him $250. If a rabbi would have walked in and told this family, “I think you should keep Shabbos,” what would they have said? “Rabbi, how will that help us?” But then again, what is this consultant advising?

While this does not speak to the essence of why we keep Shabbos, it most certainly addresses one of the wonderful benefits it provides. Shabbos immensely transforms our lives and indeed allows us one day of rest.

Rabbi Raphael Butler
A Superbowl Moment or Eternal Moment?

Every year, on one Sunday in February, the world sits mesmerized by a sports game. As you might have guessed, it is called the Superbowl. Two teams play a football game in front of billions of people around the world. From the stadium where it is being played, to cities across the globe, to people in the own comfort of their homes, people sit for several hours and anticipate the next Superbowl champions. Thirty seconds of advertising on television costs more than half a million dollars.

Yet, comes Sunday night, and the game is over. The champions are announced and life reverts to normal. Monday morning is just another day at work. Billions of people can experience a superbowl moment, yet allow it to fizzle away as fast as it came.

Now, let us contrast this phenomenon with something else.

A number of years ago, I hopped into a taxi cab in Israel. Taking a seat next to the driver, a few minutes after we pulled away from the curb, he looked at me and said, “Have you ever been to New York?” “Yes, I have,” I replied. “What about England?” “I have been there as well,” I continued to respond. Unsure where he was heading with this conversation, I sat there waiting for my next question.

“Do you remember the 1967 war?” “Sure I do. Jerusalem was recaptured and the Kotel Ha’Maaravi was returned to Jewish hands.” “Do you remember,” continued the cabbie, “that iconic picture of three soldiers wearing their helmets and looking up at the Kotel?” “Sure I do.” “Well,” said the cabbie, “I was one of them. I was there at the moment of recapturing Yerushalayim and when they snapped that picture. Afterwards, Israel Bonds flew me around the world and I traveled to New York and England. It was there that I spoke about my time spent in the army and the great experiences I had.”

Hearing that my cabbie was not just any typical taxi driver, I said, “That is very nice. It is an honor to be in such a cab. Allow me to ask you, though, where now do you live?” Thinking that my question would just be a way of carrying the conversation along, I was surprised when I heard his reply.

“For generations,” said the cabbie, “my family lived in Chaifa and was irreligious. But after that experience of being in Yerushalayim, I told myself, ‘How can I have gone through such a momentous event in Yerushalayim and not move there?’ And so, I picked myself up, moved to Yerushalayim and became more committed to Torah and mitzvot. I now have children and grandchildren who are Torah observant and following the Jewish tradition.”

We can have two kinds of moments in the world. We can have the superbowl moment which is over Sunday night, or we can have the inspirational moment that lasts for eternity.

The Shabbos Project is a superbowl moment. It is a Shabbos of inspiration, of transformation and of groundbreaking growth for world Jewry. Yet it is up to each and every one of us to make it a life-lasting moment. The Shabbos Project offers us the tremendous opportunity to capture the moment and make something last for eternity. It is up to us to ensure that the next day is not like the day after the superbowl, but rather, like the day after that cabbie stood by the Kotel.

And we most certainly can all together achieve this goal.

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