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Wednesday
Mar022016

Bitachon 24/7

By Rabbi Zalman Goldberg

Parshas VaYakhel contains Bitachon instructions for how to go about one’s work week, which has a domino effect on one’s Shabbos observance as well.

Moshe Rabbeinu gathers all the Yidden and proclaims, ‘’ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה וביום השביעי שבת שבתון -Six days (a week) your work should be done, and on the seventh day you shall rest.” It seems redundant1 to repeat the mitzvah of Shabbos here after the Yidden had already been commanded about Shabbos in the Aseres HaDibros. In addition, why is the double reference to Shabbos, “Shabbos Shabbason,” necessary?

The Rebbe explains that the Torah is telling us how our work week should appear. The Torah specifically uses the word תעשה -tay’uhseh, connoting a ‘matter of fact’ approach to one’s mundane work. It is very easy upon entering one’s workplace to become more involved than is necessary in one’s vessel for parnasa. Hashem expects Yidden to incorporate Hashem’s presence in everything they do. Once one is in his workplace, if he doesn’t particularly concentrate on maintaining a balance of k’dusha in the mundane, it is easy to get ‘carried away’ in his work.

The Torah addresses this, by alluding to how our work should be done,תעשה -on it’s own; thus leaving space for Hashem to dwell even in the mundane. If one involves his intellect and gives his entire attention over to his work, he thereby excludes Hashem from the picture, which should raise a Bitachon red flag. However, when only one’s hands are involved, and the brain is left to dwell on the chassidus that he recently studied, this is a sign that Hashem is a vital part of the person’s reality and the mundane just happens to be there. The outcome is that the bracha from Hashem which is the main part of the parnasa is then bestowed upon such a person, because it is obvious from his behavior that Hashem’s bracha is what occupies most of his attention and not the physical vessel, the work, job, etc.

Reb2 Chaim Moshe Alperovitz used to earn a living by doing difficult backbreaking work for a certain company in Eretz Yisroel. After a while, one of the people in charge noticed that here was a visibly special Yid, and decided to promote Reb Chaim Moshe to a managerial position, so as to spare him the difficult labor and improve his income. After a few days in his new position, Reb Chaim Moshe announced that he wished to be restored to his former position.

“Why?” he was asked, “Isn’t the new position physically easier?”

“My previous responsibilities were surely hard, but only my hands were occupied; my head was free to review Tanya by memory, and other parts of Torah. Now as a manager, I’m finding it difficult to think Torah while managing the operations.”

It is clear that Reb Chaim Moshe’s main focus was solely on Hashem, and if his work interfered with his concentration, then he would rather stay away from that kind of work.

Interestingly enough, when this approach to the work week is heeded properly, one’s observance of Shabbos will be significantly improved.

In keeping Shabbos there are the practical things that we do: kiddush, Havdala, special t’fillos, refraining from the thirty-nine melachos, etc. A person who observes all of the Mitzvos connected with Shabbos is certainly Shabbos observant. But there is also a whole other dimension to keeping Shabbos which is on an internal level. One who keeps all of the halachos and yet thinks about his business or about future events that are not Shabbos-related on Shabbos hasn’t transgressed Shabbos but has room for improvement in his Shabbos observance3.

During4 the Communist Revolution, the Yeshiva Tomchei T’mimim was in Poltava (a city in Ukraine) and the famed chassid, Reb Chatche Feigin, was one of the Mashpiim in the Yeshiva. In general, Poltava was a frum city, but due to the pressure of the Communists, a certain shoemaker who had formerly behaved as a frum yid, now began to keep his store open on Shabbos. Every Shabbos morning Reb Chatche would go to the mikva and pass by this store.

Once, at a Farbrengen, Reb Chatche said that he feels a ‘stab in his heart’ every time he walks by the open store on Shabbos. The bachurim thought that Reb Chatche meant that he was upset over the open chillul Shabbos.

Reb Chatche explained, “We view the shoemaker as a Shabbos desecrator, and according to Shulchan Aruch, indeed he is. However, when I think about what is desecration of Shabbos, I come to the realization that the shoemaker doesn’t realize what the holiness of Shabbos is. He never learned the halachos or the chassidic view of Shabbos, and yet, according to Shulchan Aruch, he is considered Shabbos desecrator. We, on the other hand, know what Shabbos is, both according to Nigleh and Chassidus, and we know it is a holy day which must be utilized to the fullest.”

Reb Chatche concluded, “If we waste even fifteen or twenty minutes on Shabbos, not spending them on k’dusha-related themes, then we are the real Shabbos desecrators!” and he burst into tears.

To Reb Chatche, desecrating Shabbos wasn’t just an external thing of dos and don’ts. The k’dusha of Shabbos must permeate and affect the person entirely. Otherwise, the k’dusha of Shabbos is desecrated.

This is the meaning of the double reference to Shabbos, שבת שבתון . The double Shabbos denotes that there is something more special about Shabbos than just dressing up, eating special foods, longer davening, and the prohibition of melacha. This is a time devoted entirely to Hashem alone without any mundane distractions whatsoever, even if only in thought.

Such observance of Shabbos begins during the weekday, as described above, in a manner that even the work which we are commanded to do is only secondary to our concentration on Hashem, and consequently we don’t ‘get lost’ in the work week. In this way our Shabbos will be positively and internally affected, and our conduct on Shabbos will be congruent with the holiness of Shabbos, and not just with the ‘rulebook’ of Shabbos.

Rabbi Zalman Goldberg is a well sought after speaker and lecturer on Chassidic thought. His writings and recordings on the topic of Bitachon can be accessed at http://www.gotbitachon.com.

(Endnotes)

1) לקו’’ש ח’’א ע 187 ואילך

2) בדרכי החסידות ע 373

3) ראה גם לקו’’ש חי’’א ע 80 ואילך

4) בדרכי החסידות ע 306

 

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