Skip to main content

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!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…