Posted by: Subway Conductor | October 29, 2009

November 2009

From Rabbi Michael Arsers:

With all the devices available today to make life more convenient, people are busier than ever.  Fax machines, cell phones, laptop computers, have all made it possible for us to work constantly.  No matter where you are, you can take the office with you.  Indeed, the pressures of life today make Shabbos more precious than ever.  We need Shabbos more than our forefathers did to remind us of what is really important in our lives.

Shabbos is a time for family and friends.  Shabbos is the time when we can sit back and appreciate what we have.  Six days a week, we labor and strive to get ahead, to produce, and to create something new.  On Shabbos, we are forbidden to do any work, we are not supposed to create, but rather we are to see ourselves as part of the creation.  By resting on the seventh day, we acknowledge that G-d is the creator of the universe.  And we are part of that creation.  Shabbos is more than merely a day off.  If one were to sleep for twenty-four hours from Friday night through Saturday night, that would not constitute keeping Shabbos.  Shabbos means resting in the sense that we cease to create, we halt our attempt to dominate nature.  To observe Shabbos, we must also take an active role.  Festive meals, prayer, and Torah study are all activities, which are part of observing Shabbos.

According to our tradition, on Shabbos, every Jew has an extra soul.  This extra soul gives even physical pleasures a spiritual dimension.  The meals we enjoy on Shabbos are not like those on other days of the week.  Try making a Shabbos meal on Tuesday.  It will not taste the same.  It is as if a spice is missing.  The spice is Shabbos.  Those Shabbos meals are special and even a meal in the finest restaurant is not the same.

Learning is also special on Shabbos. Shabbos should provide us with an opportunity to spend time engaging in studying Torah.  We should make an extra effort to read the weekly Torah portion.  It is particularly important to study the portion with the traditional Jewish commentaries.  I recommend that those who are interested get the Stone Chumash.  This volume has the weekly portions with a commentary, which allows you to understand the Jewish perspective on the biblical reading.  With all of the hustle and bustle of our lives, making Shabbos special is one of the best things we can do to slow down and gain a new perspective on things.  If I could recommend one thing to help people, it would be to start keeping Shabbos.  It has been said, “More than Israel has kept the Shabbos, the Shabbos has kept Israel.”

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