Monday, June 22, 2009

Oneg Shabbos

On today’s daf we see the importance of oneg Shabbos.
A close student once invited Rav Yisrael Salanter, zt”l, join him leil Shabbos.
“I never go to anyone for Shabbos until I find out their custom during the meal I shall be attending,” answered Rav Yisrael Salanter.
This student very proudly recounted that his table was filled with both physical and spiritual oneg shabbos of the very best kind. “We only procure our meats b’tachlis ha’hidur. The cook in our house is a G-dfearing woman, the widow of a renowned talmid chacham. Our table is resplendent with the best foods, yet we are very careful to sing and say an abundance of Torah between each course. We even have a regular seder in Shulchan Aruch. Understandably, our table ends only very late into the night.”
Rav Yisrael accepted his student’s invitation, but with a surprising condition. “I will come, but only if you cut two hours off the meal.”
The student complied with his mentor’s strange request and the meal from start to finish took slightly under an hour. At the very end, right when they were preparing to wash mayim achronim, the student could not contain his curiosity, “Please teach me what is wrong with my regular meal that the Rav would not come until I cut it to such an extent.”
Instead of replying, Rav Yisrael merely asked that the cook be brought the table. When the modest woman arrived, Rav Yisrael apologized to her. “Please forgive me for rushing you this evening since on my account you were forced to serve course after course with no break between them.”
“Hashem should bless the Rav with all the brochos!” replied the gratified widow. “I only wish that he came to us every Friday night. My boss usually has a very lengthy meal, and after a hard day working on my feet in the kitchen, I am so weak that I can hardly stand. But, thanks to the Rav, I can get some much needed rest.”
Rav Yisrael turned his student and said, “In this poor widow’s reply you have an answer to your question. It is true that the way you set up your table is very meritorious...but only if your tzidkus isn’t attained at the expense of another!”

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