PREPARATIONS
December 26, 2017
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #1099, Ha’yom Yom & Moshiach, Shabbos

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh

We recently learned in the HaYom Yom about how a Chassid prepares for Shabbos. The Frierdike Rebbe, at the farbrengen of 20 Kislev 5693, shared a few more details that relate to its background. This teaching of the Rebbe Maharash was heard by the Chassid Rabbi Dov Ze’ev of Yekaterinoslav during the Sheva Brachos of the wedding of the Rebbe Rashab. The Rebbe Maharash said the following (HaYom Yom 23 Kislev):

“The three days preceding Shabbos are a preparation for Shabbos. With regards to Shabbos, the Zohar states: ‘All of the days are blessed from it.’ ‘All of the days’ refers to the six weekdays, for which G‑d granted a comprehensive blessing, ‘And G‑d your L‑rd will bless you in all that you do.’ The blessing of Shabbos extends to the days that precede it and follow it. The preparations for Shabbos begin on Wednesday, and are heralded by the brief ‘Lechu Neranenah,’ the three verses [recited at the end of Wednesday’s Song of the Day].”

There were many Chassidim who had gathered for the Seuda taking place outdoors. The Rebbe Maharash was very happy and his holy countenance was shining. We felt and saw that the Sh’china was resting on his face. The Rebbe Maharash then said the following:

“We really should hear the meaning and lessons from these three p’sukim and how they are explained in a general way in the teachings of Chassidus. How it applies to each person on the level of his Neshama and his Avodas Hashem in an individual way is explained to each Chassid in his personal Yechidus. Yet now, at this special Sheva Brachos, it is a time of Simcha above. It is the joy of the holy ancestors and Rebbeim and of ‘Kudsha Brich Hu and Shechintei.’ It is also a time of joy here below. Therefore, I, the Rebbe Maharash, will explain these p’sukim on a level that can be understood by everyone.

(In continuation on 24 Kislev:) “To explain the three verses beginning ‘Lechu Neranenah’ in a way that is meaningful to everyone: On Wednesday, a person begins to wonder where he will get his Shabbos needs, both in a literal sense and regarding how he will make his Shabbos in a spiritual sense, for on Shabbos every Jew becomes a very different person. [Knowing that he is inadequately prepared,] he may become depressed. The solution is ‘Lechu Neranenah,’ Let us go and sing joyously. Let us have trust [in G‑d]. When Thursday arrives, Shabbos has drawn closer and he is still empty-handed; joyous song no longer flows so spontaneously. It’s clear that he must do something. After staying up and studying Chassidus on Thursday night, one appreciates on Friday that ‘the Al-mighty is great… and a great King.’ And with this awareness, a Jew makes his Shabbos.”

There are many special lessons that can be learned from this HaYom Yom on a practical level. First, we can see what is the true definition of Shabbos. For many people, Shabbos is a day of rest when, after working hard during the days of the week, we can finally relax and take a break. While resting on Shabbos is important, that is not the definition and purpose of Shabbos. On Shabbos “a person becomes a different person” and needs to prepare accordingly. It is a day that is made available for us to work to reveal our true spiritual essence. Since it is a special day of work, Avodas Hashem, it must be prepared for.

Therein lays the deeper significance in the curious Talmudic phrase, “The Melachos of Shabbos are forty labors, minus one.” Why not simply say that there are “thirty-nine labors” forbidden on Shabbat? Our Sages explain: the fortieth labor is the “work of heaven” we do on Shabbos.

Actually, building the Mishkan involves forty categories of creative work. These are the thirty-nine modes of constructive involvement with the physical world in which we engage for six days a week and which we cease on Shabbos, and the fortieth is the spiritual labor of Shabbos. The fortieth labor requires the cessation of the first thirty-nine, for this is the act of stepping out of and above our weekday Mishkan building; yet it is ultimately an indispensable component of the job of constructing a home for G‑d in our physical lives.

With this we might gain some understanding of the answer to another interesting question that some have asked. In the HaYom Yom of 4 Teives, the Rebbe brings down two seemingly unconnected points: “The Rebbeim of Chabad [would fulfill the obligation to review the weekly Torah portion twice in the original and once in the Aramaic translation in the following manner. They] would review one or two aliyos on Thursday night. On Friday afternoon they would begin reviewing the weekly portion again from the beginning, reading the entire sidra and the haftarah. On Shabbos morning, before praying, they would review the reading from the seventh aliya onward again. When there were two Haftoros, they would recite the haftarah linked to the weekly Torah reading on Friday, and the other haftarah (e.g., the one linked to Shabbos Rosh Chodesh or to the day preceding Rosh Chodesh) on Shabbos.”

(It is worth mentioning that while the Rebbe writes that this is the custom of the holy Rebbeim, by putting it into the HaYom Yom, does this imply that it be the custom of Chassidim? It is interesting that this custom is not brought down in Seifer HaMinhagim, yet in Igros Volume 18 page 560 the Rebbe writes to a Chassid to follow this minhag described in this HaYom Yom.)

This same HaYom Yom continues: “Good dreams that communicate Torah concepts result, by and large, from diligence in one’s Torah study during the day. When a person studies Torah with great diligence or exerts himself intensely in the service of the heart, his soul ascends at night to the spiritual realms and draws life from the Sublime life-force, as explained in the Zohar. He is then informed of new insights in nigleh, the revealed dimensions of Torah, or in P’nimius HaTorah, the Torah’s mystical secrets — every individual according to the diligence of his efforts during that day.”

What is the connection between these two seemingly disparate messages? While we do not know the true intention of the Rebbe, we might suggest the following. After reading the first part of the HaYom Yom, about the amount of time the Rebbeim spent preparing for Shabbos, we may wonder why it is so important to prepare so much. The answer is in the second half: “Good dreams that communicate Torah concepts result, by and large, from diligence in one’s Torah study during the day.” We cannot experience the true Shabbos, likened to “good dreams that communicate Torah concepts,” without preparing “during the day,” i.e., before Shabbos. If we want to experience Shabbos like a Chassid, we need to prepare accordingly before Shabbos.

This is especially relevant regarding our Avoda of preparing ourselves and the world around us for Moshiach. The times of Moshiach are known as “days of Shabbos.” In the Bentching of Shabbos, we say: “May the Merciful One let us inherit that day which will be all Shabbos and rest for life everlasting.” These special days need to be prepared for in advance. Just as for the regular Shabbos, we must start preparing physically and spiritually before Shabbos, so too for Yemos HaMoshiach. We can’t just wait for Shabbos – Moshiach – to come; rather it demands active participation before.

Every week, everyone in the house has his or her Shabbos job. This includes the father, mother and children. The same must be in the Avoda of bringing Moshiach: Everyone must get involved and not just delegate to someone else. It is the responsibility of every individual to prepare for and bring in Shabbos every week and the long-awaited Shabbos of the entire creation.

In the words of the Rebbe (B’suras Geula chapter 21): “Simply put: all Jews, men, women and even children, have the responsibility to increase their efforts to bring our righteous Moshiach in actual reality!

“Therefore it’s obvious there’s no place for relying on others or imposing the work on someone else instead of doing it oneself, but this is the task of every man and woman; everyone must himself do his job ‘to serve my Maker’ (for the sake of which ‘I was created’), and certainly one has the ability (since ‘I do not ask except according to their ability’).

“What this duty consists of is also simple: increasing one’s Torah and mitzvos. This means learning both the revealed aspects of the Torah and the inner aspects of the Torah and performing the mitzvos with distinction… All of this should be done with an intense anticipation and desire for the Redemption, like it states, ‘I anxiously await his coming every day.’ Every day we say in our prayers: ‘May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy’ and (on weekdays) ‘Speedily cause the scion of David Your servant to flourish.’ This has been mentioned many times.”

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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