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Thought for the Day: Three Reason Not To Have A Significant Meal Erev Shabbos

Catchy title, no?  I made a conscious decision from the beginning of this experiment to never use cute titles.  There is little enough information here, so I want the reader to always be able to know the main content just from the title.  The only thing I have a twinge about is that I shortened it from, "Three Reason Not To Have A Regular Meal Erev Shabbos and Why You Should Care"  I only refrained from that because the title really ought to be significantly shorter than the content.  So here we go.

The Mishna Brura (by which I mean to include content from the Biur Halacha) brings three reasons that one should not sit himself down to a sumptuous feast on erev Shabbos.  First, one should have an appetite for the Friday evening meal.  I think that's the most well know reason; though, truthfully, this is more of a problem for Yom Tov because simchas yom tov is really the mitzvah of the day.  Secondly, there is a concern that if you are busy eating, you may run out of time to prepare the Shabbos s'uda.  That would be bad, since once Shabbos starts you can no longer prepare food and you are looking at a long, hungry day.  The final reason is that it cheapens the whole Shabbos experience when the erev shabbos meal is just as fancy as the shabbos meal.

Suppose, though, that you have a really good reason to have a fancy shmancy meal on erev Shabbos.  What's a good reason, you wonder?  Wonder no more; the Mishna Brura is one stop shopping.  A s'udas mitvah -- for example, the s'uda in celebration of a bris, pidyon haben, or siym -- fits the bill quite nicely, thank you.  What about the three issues raised above?  In reverse order (just to keep you on toes):  First, it's no longer a cheapening of the Shabbos experience to have a s'udas mitvah (that's one advantage of being monotheistic; one Boss).  Hire and/or assign someone to ensure that all appropriate preparations are made for Shabbos.  Finally, you aren't going to be hungry for the Friday night meal, so just be sure to eat three meals on Shabbos day.  Ta Da.

Actually, not so Ta Da; that last one is a not pashut at all.  There seems to be an actual obligation to eat a meal Friday night.  That is, besides the obligation of three meals on Shabbos, one may (according to many/most poskim) also be obligated to eat the first one of those on Friday night.  What's the problem, though?  We have a general rule of not passing over mitzvos (that's the driving force behind how to arrange the seder plate, for example).  That mean (explains Rashi) that you don't forgo a "small" mitzvah even though it will prevent you from doing a bigger mitzvah later.  One that issue the Mishna Brura says that the s'uda associated with celebrating a bris/pidyon haben/siyum is just a "mitzvah b'alma".  My understanding of that is that the s'uda is a beautification of the ikar (main) mitzvah, but not really a mitzvah in and of itself.  Given that, the Mishna Brura leaves question open and says it requires more investigation.

If he can do that, so can it.  Tzarich Iyun.


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