Monday, May 11, 2009

Spirit of the Law: #15: Shabbos Clothes

Spirit of the Law: Shabbos #16

(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:16) “One should make an effort to procure nice clothing and a tallis in honor of Shabbos. We interpret the word, ‘And you shall honor it,’ to mean that one should honor the Shabbos by having especially nice clothing set aside for it.” [Note: Rabbi Yochanan called his garments ‘mechabdusei’—that which gives honor. ]
Rav Nosson, zt”l, writes that all labor results in a finished product. We are able to create things and achieve things only by taking the abilities with which Hashem has gifted us and imbuing G-dliness in the work of our hands. The truth is that during the week most cannot come to grasp Hashem without doing these mundane acts which channel G-dliness into the realm of action. It is only by living life in the physical world that we can experience the Divine. Most people cannot sit all day and focus on Torah and holy matters, especially since this requires a high level of trust in Hashem. It is easier to work and exist in the physical world and spend the remainder of one’s time focusing on Hashem. For such a person, working makes them feel their spiritual lack and yearn for spirituality so that they then use their free time to serve Hashem.
There are many ways to spiritualize one’s material endeavors. A certain Breslover carpenter would apply each of his labors with the wood to himself and ask the Creator for help to merit this level. When he was cleaning the wood, he would beg to be cleansed from all spiritual impurity. When he was cutting the wood, he would plead with the Creator to mold him in the best way, trimming off anything not completely spiritual. Rebbe Nachman teaches another way to spiritualize one’s work. While at work, one should focus on the charity he will give from his earnings.
The sages tell us that one who works should learn more on Shabbos. Even one who spends his whole day serving Hashem during the week still has a certain involvement in the mundane, as Rebbe Nachman explains in Likutei Moharan. One must have a relationship with the material world in order to experience holiness. In the ultimate future, we will all be able to experience closeness to Hashem all the time without needing the divider of engaging in physical labor. Similarly, on Shabbos we can connect to Hashem without any filter. This is because Shabbos is a microcosm of the next world so one can focus on G-dliness without the need for creative labor in the material realm.
This is why we have special clothing for Shabbos. We experience the Divine in an entirely different level on Shabbos. The Divine is “garbed” differently on Shabbos than during the week. Of course, one must do his utmost to repent before putting on his Shabbos finery.
The Komarna Rebbe, zt”l, once asked his uncle, Rav Tzvi Hirsch from Zitochov, zt”l, “You taught that the moment a person puts on his Shabbos garb he merits atonement for all his sins. Yet I saw you today at Minchah crying when you said, ‘Forgive us...’ What were you asking Hashem to forgive you for? All your sins were already forgiven when you put on your Shabbos garments!
The tzaddik responded, “What can I do? As I was raised up from level to level, my new awareness of Hashem made old sins for which I had already been forgiven seem to require another teshuvah!”


yaakov said...

yasher koach, i never really understood shabbos like this. thank you so very much!

Micha Golshevsky said...

B'simcha rabbah!
I am very glad that these pieces are finally being edited. I hope to post three to four pieces a week, and stories on other days, b'ezras Hashem.