On The Sixth Day You Shall Prepare
Seventy years ago, Shabbos observance was still very lax America. Many Jews failed to withstand the temptations they faced on this point. Quite a few rabbonim tried to rectify these serious breaches, and educate the masses about the importance of Shabbos observance which is a basic foundation of Yiddishkeit.
One of the interesting attempts to change the mind-set of people on this topic appears in a sefer Kevod Shabbos, where the author, Harav Yitzchok Horowitz z”l of Melitz, also author of Birchas Yitzchok, organized all of the halochos and customs of Shabbos. In his approbation to this sefer, he says that some of them are halachic rulings. Others are dependent on good practices, and others are customs. He claims that if a person is familiar with the proper way to prepare for Shabbos and how to behave on Shabbos itself, his entire approach will be different.
The sefer is arranged according to the order of Shabbos, minute by minute. All sections are presented in remarkable roshei teivos [acrostics] of the word “Shabbos” in the order of the day. Since the sefer is out of print, we will quote a number of lines from the simanim roshei teivos, alongside the corresponding content from the sefer.
Shishi Bo Tachin – On the sixth you shall prepare. Every person must prepare his Shabbos needs himself on Friday. This itself is a mitzvah, just as one must beware of chilul Shabbos, so one must accustom himself on erev Shabbos in the morning to prepare all the Shabbos needs, including shopping, cooking and preparing clean and fine Shabbos clothing, so that he doesn’t have to start looking for them close to Shabbos, and thus usher it in late.
Sh’ha’isha Be’challah To’afoh -The woman should bake challah. It is a mitzvah for the woman to bake challohs in honor of Shabbos, especially when there is a possibility that the bakers might violate certain halachos. One must separate a piece from the dough before baking. If she didn’t do so before baking, she should do so afterward, but not recite the brachah [but say hareini mafrisha challah min ha’isah]. The piece of the dough set aside for challah should then be burned in a fire. The woman’s separation of challah rectifies Chava’s sin of giving Adam Harishon to eat from the Etz Ha’daas.
Shulchan Be’challohs Te’ater – Decorate Your [Shabbos] table with Challohs. The Challohs must be placed on the table when it is still day, so that the table won’t become a bosis for a muktzah, the Shabbos candles which are lit on the table. By placing the challohs on the table when it is still day, the issue of not being able to move the table Shabbos, is thereby solved.
Shulchan Be’arba Ta’arich – Conduct your Shabbos table on four. According to kabbala, on Shabbos one must eat on a four-legged table, like that of the Beis Hamikdash.
Shulchan Bayis Te’chabeid –The Shabbos table you should honor. One must honor the table by placing a clean, white tablecloth on it before sundown. The house should also be clean and the beds spread with fine linens.
She’hanei’ros B’shulchan Ta’amid – Place your Shabbos candles on the table. One should place the Shabbos candles on the table which he eats. In addition, one should light Shabbos candles in every room.
Shishi Bernier’s Tivdok – —Examine the candles on the sixth. One must examine the Shabbos candles on Friday, to see if they will burn properly, by lighting them and extingushing them. Sometimes, the wick is short, or the flame doesn’t catch on to the wick, and after the bracha the woman sees that the candle isn’t lit. This is liable to cause her to stumble and to relight it or to light another candle, even though she has already ushered in Shabbos with a bracha.
Shi’shi Be’tzipor’necha Titol – Cut your fingernails on the sixth. A person should cut his fingernails on erev Shabbos, and then burn them. After cutting one’s fingernails, one should wash netilas yadayim. Our chachamim ssy that it is a danger to cut one’s fingernails and toe nails on the same day.
Shishi Ba’mayim Tir’chatz – Bathe yourself on the sixth One should bathe and immerse in a mikveh on erev Shabbos.
The sefer continues the halachos and practices of erev Shabbos and Shabbos according to the halacha, the sayings of chassidus, and the customs.
We too, who are strictly observant and learned, must strengthen ourselves on these matters, because Shabbos is the foundation of Yiddishkeit, and even if we don’t stumble with chillul Shabbos, nonetheless there are aspects in our observance which must be improved, in particular the issue of preparations for Shabbos.