Thursday, March 25, 2010
Shabbos HaGadol 5634 First Ma'amar + Practical Applications
Much has been written about the name of the Shabbos preceding Pesach – Shabbos HaGadol, the great Shabbos. Why is it called the great Shabbos?
In order to answer this question, we need to understand what significance keeping Shabbos has for us. Of course, keeping Shabbos is our testimony that God created the world. However, in addition to this, keeping Shabbos has significance for each of us personally. It is, after all, a day of rest. At the very least, on Shabbos we do not “go to work”. We stay home with our families.
A day of rest signifies that whoever is controlling our lives during the week, is not in control on Shabbos. Shabbos, then, sets us free from the rule of flesh and blood. At least for one day a week, we can subordinate ourselves to God. On this level of keeping Shabbos, Chazal tell us that even in
, Moshe Rabbeinu requested and received permission from Pharaoh to grant the nation one day of rest per week from their backbreaking physical labor. In addition to the welcome physical rest, for one day a week the nation was free from the rule of Pharaoh and was able to accept the rule of God. Egypt
The Zohar, however, mentions two levels of keeping Shabbos. There is the level of those who are enslaved and the level of those who are not enslaved and are able to subordinate themselves to God during the week as well. The significance of Shabbos for these people is that on Shabbos it takes less effort to experience God. To these people, Shabbos signifies a day on which they are free from the distractions of weekday activities. Spiritually as well, it is a day on which it is easier to experience God. This is a much higher level of keeping Shabbos.
We first experienced this higher level of Shabbos as a nation on the Shabbos preceding the redemption. Prior to this Shabbos Moshe Rabbeinu promised us that after the coming plague we would be leaving
for good. We finally left the servitude of Pharaoh and became subordinate to God alone. We were thus able to experience the higher level of Shabbos. In commemoration of the first time we experienced the higher level of Shabbos, we refer to the Shabbos before Pesach as the great Shabbos. Egypt
Although we are not slaves today in the literal sense, unfortunately, many of us are essentially slaves. We accept being subordinate to our work, our employers, our … etc. We thus experience only the first level of keeping Shabbos. We are not free during the week. We are free only on Shabbos. Shabbos for us is simply a day of rest, albeit, a mental and emotional rest. I’m not belittling Shabbos as a day of rest. A day of rest is very important. There were times, not long ago, when even this was difficult attain.
However, nowadays, very few are struggling because their employers require them to work on Shabbos. Our struggle these days is to accept the yoke of Heaven during the week as well. It is to realize that the one who pays us a check is really the One who is paying us the check.
Many pay lip service to the concept that our parnassah comes from God, not from our employer, customers, etc. However, truly internalizing the concept changes the way we approach our employer, business, customers, etc. There is a certain confidence that comes from knowing that my employer is no more than God’s messenger with no autonomous power. This mindset switch is key to experiencing the ol malchus shamayim during the week and even more so on Shabbos. May we merit it!
And a chag kasher vesame’ach to all.
שנזכה לאכול מן הפסחים ומן הזבחים!
Labels: Shabbos HaGadol