Shabbat is one of the most fundamental and important commandments from the Torah. It is a covenant between Bnei Yisrael and G-d. The sanctity of Shabbat is so great, that one who keeps it, it’s as if he fulfills the whole Torah. However, one who desecrates the Shabbat, it is as if he denies the whole Torah (Pesikta). Shabbat is mentioned twelve times in the Torah. The Rambam wrote: “Whoever observes Shabbat as the halakha prescribes and honors it and indulges in its pleasures to the best of his ability will receive an abundant reward in this world, in addition to the reward set aside for him in the world to come.
The Chafetz Haim added that Shabbat is called a bride, while the Jewish nation is called the groom. If the groom treats his bride with love and respect, he can be assured that his wealthy father-in-law will provide him with a large dowry and additional precious gifts. Shabbat is equivalent to all other mitzvot in the Torah, it is a sign of connection between us and Hashem. Therefore, someone who publically desecrates the Shabbat is considered for all halakhic purposes to be on the level of a member of an idolatrous nation. Therefore it is very important for every Jew to learn all of the laws of Shabbat in detail. Our great sages would constantly review the Laws of Shabbat in order to properly observe the Shabbat. The Shnei Luhot Haberit wrote: One is obligated to study the laws of Shabbat, both the early Poskim and the recent ones. One must learn them in order to observe, to practice, and fulfill. There are a number of laws which the majority of people fail to observe properly. But of course, it goes without saying that in order to observe the Shabbat properly with all of its details one must make preparations for it.
This can be compared to a speaker. In order for the speech to come out properly and perfectly, the speaker has to prepare for many hours. The same applies to Shabbat. We will therefore discuss the laws pertaining to the preparations for the holy Shabbat. Our sages states: One who works hard and puts effort on Erev Shabbat will have what to eat on Shabbat. However, one who does work hard on Erev Shabbat, from what will he eat. (Avodah Zarah 3a) Our great sages worked very hard to prepare for Shabbat. The Gemara recounts many stories of how they would prepare for the holy day. It is very important for one to prepare for Shabbat with great joy. The Arizal says that the sweat of a person who prepares has the power to erase his sins.
Q: How to prepare for Shabbat:
• One should bathe before Shabbat
• One should prepare tasty foods for Shabbat
• One should change into more elegant clothing
• One should kindle lights for the Shabbat
• One should also clean the house and make it ready before Shabbat
Q: Why make so many preparations for Shabbat?
There was once a small village of hard working farmers. One day a message arrived stating that the queen will be visiting this village for the weekend. As soon as the villagers heard this, they instantly stopped what they were doing and began preparing the village for the queen’s stay. Some villagers began cooking, some setting up the table, some preparing flowers for the queen, and some cleaning up all public areas in the village. Now, imagine what these villagers did in order to host the queen for a weekend. Every week, however, we host the queen of all queens-Shabbat. How much more so should we prepare for this special day!
Q: How much should one spend for Shabbat?
Our Sages taught: Heaven decrees on Rosh Hashanah what a person will earn all year until the following Rosh Hashanah. Rashi explained that this teaches a person to be careful on how he spends his money. For if he uses his annual atonement prematurely, Heaven will not provide any more for him.
This, however, does not include the expenses one incurs for the sake of Shabbat or Yom Tov or for providing one’s children with a Torah education. Therefore, one should not be afraid to spend money in honor of Shabbat. One can be rest assured that Hashem will make it up to him. The Zohar teaches that not only will Hashem pay back the money a person spends for Shabbat, but he will pay it back with interest, many times more than the amount spent. One should purchase delicacies he enjoys in honor of Shabbat.
Stay away from arguments on Erev Shabbat
Erev Shabbat is a very dangerous time to get into an argument with one’s spouse or others. The “evil force” tries to provoke fights, especially on Erev Shabbat. The Gemara tells us of the following incident: There was a man and his wife, who every Erev Shabbat would get into arguments. Rav Meir visited their house for three weeks on Erev Shabbat until he made peace between them. After this, he heard the Satan say: “Woe to that Rav Meir who removed the Satan from this house.” The Ben Ish Hai explains: when a person is involved in arguments and fights, the Satan gets a hold of him and comes into his house. However, if one prevents such fights, he removes the Satan from his home.