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Thought for the Day: K'dusha, Kavod, and Oneg Shabbos

I recently related the p'sak of the Yam Shel Shlomo, quoted as halacha by the Mishna Brura that it is a tragic mistake made by many (קרא תגר) to make the Friday night meal fancier than the Shabbos day meal.  That seems to run counter to the common wisdom that the k'dusha of Shabbos increases with each passing hour; starting with wine and a hot meal and ending with a simple repast, ethereal nigunim, and intimate divrei torah.  Yet, the Yam Shel Shlomo has an excellent source: Chazal themselves, who tell us "kavod yom kodem l'kavod laila".  So where's the disconnect?  My thought today is that the disconnect is with us not putting the pieces together properly.

On Shabbos we get a "neshama y'seira"; literally: additional soul.  (Interestingly, Google translate renders that phrase as "Sabbath Soul".)  Rashi explains that the way "neshama y'seira" expresses itself is that we can eat and drink more on Shabbos.  Hmm... doesn't sound so holy, now, does it?  The Pachad Yitzvchak, in explaining Rashi, notes that what we call "life" is really the neshama being connected to the body.  After all, the neshama itself is eternal (so life and death is not relevant to it) and the body is a piece of meat.  Put a neshama together with a body, though, and you have a living being.  How does that being continue to live?  By eating and drinking, of course!  So "extra soul" means "extra eating and drinking."  Cool.  Which only begs the question: Why should Shabbos be the time for that to happen?

Our mission in this world (which we were more or less forced to choose), is to use the mundane in the service of holiness; thus breathing eternity into the ephemeral.  Shabbos, being by nature connected to k'dusha, gives and extra boost to that mission and HaShem bound the n'shama more tightly to the body so that even greater levels of k'dusha can be realized.  Of course, that is only true if the eating and drinking are done with an intent take advantage of the opportunities that Shabbos presents.  If we eat and drink in service of our baser instincts, just using Shabbos as an excuse for gluttony, then we have done much worse than waste an incredible opportunity; we have actually driven our body more deeply into the mud; dragging our souls down with it.

Now, back the question of which meal should be enhanced with special delicacies?  If the day comes first, why is shalosh s'udos so small?  If the night comes first, then why should the day meal be enhanced over the night meal?  Context, context, context.  Chazal assume that a normal person eats two meals a day; one at night (when our "day" begins), and one in the morning.  (See, for example, Mishna Brura on 46:3, sk 14 where he explains how to get to 100 brachos per day and takes it for granted that one will be eating two bread meals.)  Eating a nice meal on Friday night, therefore, does not demonstrate any particular honor or glory to the Sabbath... one usually eats his big meal after a long day of work at night.  Having a special meal in the morning (ie, after davening), on the other hand, shows that one is honoring the Sabbath day because he is sitting down to a nice formal meal at a time that would usually be rushed because of work.  Adding delicacies to that meal only adds to the glory of Shabbos and -- per force -- also serves to further elevate one both spiritually and physically.

Why, then, is shalosh s'udos so simple?  Because any eating at all that time of day is a demonstration that we are eating for Shabbos Kodesh and not simply because we are hungry again.  In fact, that's why we call it "shalosh s'udos" (three meals) and not "s'uda shlishis" (third meal); it is not simple a third meal, it is that meal that declares that we are eating three meals on the Sabbath in fulfillment of the Will or our Creator.

That's bon apetit Torah style!

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