Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spirit of the Law: Shabbos Chapter 72: #8

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:8: “Even a poor person should make efforts to enjoy Shabbos even if this means that he must limit his spending during the week in order to be able to afford the simplest pleasure. Even if he doesn’t have money, he should borrow using his belongings as security in order to be able to obtain delicacies to bring him pleasure on Shabbos. About such a case the rabbis said (in Hashem’s Name): ‘Children, borrow and I will surely pay! The resources to pay for all of one’s food is fixed on Rosh Hashanah, except for Shabbos and Holiday expenses. If one adds to these, the money is added to his account!’ If one’s situation is very difficult, if he cannot borrow and the only way of getting delicacies for Shabbos is to take charity and this person has never taken charity, he should rather make his Shabbos like a weekday and not make use of his fellow man by becoming a burden to the community. However, one should make an effort to have at least a little something which is special in honor of Shabbos.”

The exact language in the Gemara in Beitza quoted here is, “Believe in Me and borrow, and I shall pay.” The Ben Ish Chai, zt”l, and the Chazon Ish, zt”l, both learn that a person should only borrow if he is also sincerely working on his trust in Hashem. One who is not on this level should not borrow. Perhaps he will not be worthy and will not be repaid.
Working on bitachon (trust in Hashem) is an ongoing struggle that takes much effort. The bigger the financial burden, the more bitachon is required.
There is an interesting exchange between Rav Nosson of Breslov and his son in this regard. After Rav Yitzchok, zt”l, had married and learned for several good years with his father’s support, Rav Nosson told him that the time had come for him to fend for himself. “The number of years that I committed to support you are over, and I cannot carry the load of you and your family any longer,” he said.
When Rav Yitzchok asked why, his father explained, “I have enough bitachon for myself and my own family, but I can’t work on bitachon for you and your growing family as well. That is for you to do!”
The Mekor Chaim, zt”l, explains that we attain tremendous spiritual reward through taking pleasure on the Shabbos. One of the rewards of a person who has pleasure in Shabbos is a boundless spiritual inheritance—נחלה בלי מיצרים. This represents a higher level of existence. During the days of the week we exist at a soul-level that is connected with the lower spiritual worlds of Beriyah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah. Since these worlds are a mixture of good and bad, the levels of the soul procured from them need clarification. On Shabbos we receive our soul-level from the world of Atzilus which is completely holy without any admixture of bad. This represents our deep inner spiritual connection to the Almighty which can never be truly severed whatever we may have done. Taking physical pleasure on Shabbos represents the awesome holy delicacies in which our souls partake in the merit of Shabbos. One who does not celebrate the Shabbos meals with any delicacies is being punished for failing to honor the Shabbos at an earlier time (sometimes this is even from an earlier life). This changed their Oneg Shabbos to Nega—a plague (נגע = ענג). In light of this, a person in straightened circumstances should consider the importance of correcting this fault and at the very least save up to have a little something on Shabbos to distinguish it from the week. The greatest rectification of this is one who casts their whole burden on Hashem, strengthening their bitachon until they completely rely on Hashem and He carries their burden. Hashem then sends them the bounty to pay back all their debts and purchase many delicacies in honor of the holy Shabbos.

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