Hashem’s Holy Day Honored

“Im toshiv miShabbos…—If you restrain your foot because it is Shabbos, refrain from acccomplishing your own needs on My holy day; if you proclaim the Shabbos a delight and the holy day of Hashem honored, and your honor it by not engaging in your own affairs, from seeking your own needs or disciussing the forbidden—then you will delight in Hashem, and I will mount you astride the heights of the world; I will provide you the heritage of your forefather Yaakov, for the mouth of Hashem has spoken.” (Yeshayahu 58:13-14)

These verses which conclude the haftorah of Yom Kippur constitute a large part of the halachos and conduct of Shabbos Kodesh. From here Chazal learn that it is forbidden to engage in mundane matters on Shabbos, even if they don’t involve performing melachos. The mitzvah to honor the Shabbos and delighting in Shabbos is also cited in these verses, as it is written: “If you proclaim the Shabbos a delight and the holy day of Hashem honored. The phrase, “Oz tisaneg al Hashem”—Then you will delight in Hashem contains both a promise and a blessing, signifying that by performing of all the activities done in order to make Shabbos special, one will merit to “delight in Hashem,” which is the ultimate goal of the creation of man, who was formed only in order to delight in Him and in the glow of His Shechina.

A Merit for the Fulfillment of Requests-

Chazal extol one who delights the Shabbos and honors it, (Shabbos 118a) saying that, “one who delights the Shabbos is given untold [rewards]…is saved from the subjugation of the exiles and is granted the fulfillment of all of his requests…”

What a promise! What a reward! Who doesn’t want all of his requests to be filled? Who doesn’t want untold blessings? And here, we have a clear promise from the prophets and from the words of the kabbalah, that one who delights the Shabbos, and accords it a different and more reverent attitude than the weekdays, is granted the fulfillment of all his requests and unlimited reward.

Yom Kippur and Shabbos –

The Zohar, says that the phrase “likdosh Hashem mechubad” refers to Yom Kippur, and that both of them are one. Because Yom Kippur and Shabbos are the same, the Novi says, “ve’ chibadeto mai’asos derachecha,” in singular form.

Practically speaking, in the same manner in which we make spiritual and functional preparations for Yom Kippur, so should we do for every single erev Shabbos. They should be no less intensive – not even in the slightest degree – than our preparations for Yom Kippur – and we shouldn’t find ourselves at candle lighting time unprepared for the sacred day.

Waiting for Shabbos –

Let us envision the Kohen Hagadol who prepares to enter Kodesh Kodashim on Yom Kippur. He separates himself from his home a week beforehand and prepares with great reverence for many days, since it is not a simple matter to enter the Kodesh Kodashim where the Shechina rests. But then our sages reveal to us that every single Shabbos is Kodesh Kodashim. The Shela Hakadosh says this, as does the Gr”a in his famous letter “Iggeres HaGra” which he wrote to the members of his family, when he was preparing to leave for Eretz Yisrael. Both use the same expression, calling Shabbos, “Kodesh Kodashim.” How is this honoring achieved? Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos 30:2) writes: “Chachamim stated that a person is commanded to wash his face, hands and feet in hot water on erev Shabbos out of kovod Shabbos. Then he must don his garment (tzitzis), and sit down in a serious vein, waiting to greet the Shabbos, as if waiting to greet the king. The early Rishonim would gather their students erev Shabbos, then don their tzitziyos and say: ‘Let us go out and greet the Shabbos our king.’”

The Brisker Rav would fulfill this halacha in all of its details, stressing that this is the manner in which the mitzvah of honoring Shabbos should be upheld. More than an hour before Shabbos, he would go out to the porch and sit there seriously, without doing anything except waiting for Shabbos Hamalka to arrive.