29 Kislev 5782 / Friday, December 03, 2021 | Torah Reading: Mikeitz
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The Mystical Power of Shabbat    

The Mystical Power of Shabbat

Shabbat is the mitzvah mentioned the most times in the Torah. Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, taught that all of one’s transgressions are forgiven if he keeps Shabbat properly…


It was a dark mad world.  The Nazi regime came to power, and they were going from town to town rounding up the Jews and sending them off to concentration camps.  When they arrived at one town, the Nazis separated the teenage girls from their parents.  “Help me mommy!” Shouted one girl.  “Be strong my love.” Answered the weeping mother.  The girls were crammed into a truck, which traveled for three days and three nights until the hungry and frightened girls were finally let out.


They were lined up in front of a large building as the SS officer stood up and announced.  “Achtung!  You girls are lucky.  The Fuhrer has decided to spare your life.  If you work hard seven days a week making army uniforms in this textile factory, your life will be spared!"


The girls were relieved by this announcement.  All of them but one that is, who courageously stepped forward and asked permission to speak.  The SS officer looked at the girl with evil in his eyes, but he allowed her to speak.  “I appreciate this opportunity” she said in a sheepish voice “however, I cannot work seven days a week as I cannot work on Shabbat.  I am willing to make up the work on the other days of the week, but I will not work on Shabbat."


“Insolence!” roared the officer.  “The Fuhrer has given you the chance to live and you have the nerve to negotiate?!”  The girl answered with a little more confidence, “I really appreciate that we have been given this opportunity sir, but I simply cannot work on Shabbat.”


Finally, the officer’s grimace softened just a bit and he said “Listen up girls!  This brave child stood up for what she believes in even at the risk of her life.  Therefore, she will get Shabbat off, but the rest of you will work seven days a week.”


That girl survived the war, and when she became of marriageable age, she merited to marry none other than one of world’s most renowned rabbis, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Shteinman shlit'a! (This touching story was told over in a lecture by Rabbi David Ozeri entitled ‘Shabbat the Source of all Blessings’, recorded on Aug. 3, 2010 in Deal, New Jersey).


Shabbat is the mitzvah mentioned the most times in the Torah.  Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, taught that all of one’s transgressions are forgiven if he keeps Shabbat properly.  Any Torah learning or Tehillim that we recite on Shabbat counts 500 times more than during the week.  Shabbat is the source of all blessings; and the list of references from the Torah, the Zohar and the Gemara of how special Shabbat is can fill an endless number of pages.


Our Rabbis of blessed memory find many analogies between preparations for Shabbat and the preparations of the High Priest on Yom Kippur before Neila as he entered the Holy of Holies.  The High Priest would dip in a mikveh, change his clothes and prepare the entire week beforehand, making teshuva (repentance), all in preparation for this most holy moment.  This was a time of unification between the High Priest who represented the Jewish people and Hashem.


When we bring in Shabbat every week, the same unification occurs.  Every Jewish man and woman is about to enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur and spend 26 hours of intimacy with our Creator.  We think of Shabbat all week just as the High Priest prepared the entire week before Yom Kippur.  We prepare on Friday by changing our clothing and going to the mikveh.  We clean the house and do not talk or think about the mundane.  And how do we withstand such holiness?  By receiving an extra soul from the highest of worlds.  This special soul, which is so sensitive to creative work, to the mundane and to sadness - coming from a world in which there is no sadness, is the vessel we are given to enjoy the holiness of Shabbat properly.


Thank you Hashem for this most special mitzvah.  More than the Jewish people have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept our people.

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