Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In Honor of Shabbos

I have got some developing, breaking news to report. It is from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Hilchos Shabbos, 72:4.

I paraphrase.

It is written, zachor es yom hashabos lekadsho (Remember the day of Shabbos, to sanctify it). What this means is that a person should remember, and sanctify, it on each and every day. How so? If, on a regular day, he should happen across a desirable food item, one that is not readily encountered and, also, not immanently perishable, he should step up and procure it in honor of the day of Shabbos. Moreover, on erev Shabbos, a person is particularly strongly adjured to rise early and shop around to procure the things that will meet his Shabbos needs. He is, in fact, given a special dispensation: he may dispatch his shopping obligation before having davened the morning prayer – with the proviso that he will not thereby have arrived late for the public prayer service (tefila betzibur). Furthermore, it is preferable to do the sopping that one does in honor of Shabbos on erev Shabbos to doing it on Thursday. There is, however, an exception to this rule: when the item in question requires substantial preparation, he should obtain it earlier – presumably on Thursday – so as to be able to prepare it adequately. Something else: in regard to anything he buys for consumption on Shabbos, he should make it a point to expressly declare his intention that he buys it for the honor of Shabbos. On a related matter, among the various edicts that Ezra enacted, there is one to the effect that one should do one’s laundry on Thursday, so as not to be encumbered by the demands of this chore on erev Shabbos, when one needs to be free to tend to one’s Shabbos requirements.

It applies to everyone alike that, even though he has plenty of servants of whose services he can avail himself for getting his various chores done, he should still make it a point to personally indulge in some act for the express purpose of honoring Shabbos thereby. He should, in this way, seek to emulate the Amoraim. Rav Chisda, for example, is reported to have cut the vegetables thinly; while Raba and Rav Yosef would chop wood and Reb Zeira would light the fire. Rav Nachman, in turn, fixed up the house, gathering in utensils needed for Shabbos and hauling out vessels designated for weekday use. Everyone should follow in their example, and refrain from thinking that it is beneath him to sully himself with such mundane undertakings. On the contrary, it is a boon to his honor that he honors the Shabbos.

It is ubiquitous among the diffuse communities of Jewish people to hold to the custom of baking bread loaves in the home in honor of Shabbos. This applies not only to those who are in the practice of partaking of pas palter during the week, for whom adhering to pas yisrael on Shabbos would constitute an upgrade (in level of observance). It applies as well to those accustomed to eating pas yisrael during the week: they too are enjoined to make home-baked loaves for Shabbos. This is so that the woman of the household will fulfill the command (mitzva) of separating chala. For Adam, the first man, had been created on erev Shabbos, and – having been created first – was the chala of the world. But the woman transgressed and, consequently, precipitated his downfall. She needs, therefore, to make amends for the catastrophe she brought about. This she does by baking loaves and separating chala. Three loaves are made: a big one, a middle-sized one, and a small one. The middle one is designated for the feast of the night (Friday night). The big one is used for the daytime meal, to signal the fact that the day period of Shabbos deserves greater honor than does the night period. Finally, the small loaf is set aside for the third meal.           

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