A Proven Protection
Shabbat has so many laws and details - who does not stumble from time to time? Is there any way to prevent a slipup? The Kalever Rebbe gives sure advice...
Moshe called the whole community of the children of Israel to assemble, and he said to them: “These are the things that the Lord commanded to make”. (Shemot 35:1)
True Shabbat Observance
Through my travels, I have unfortunately met all over the world, Jews that define their Shabbat observance simply by going to shul, or by making Kiddush Friday night and eating some fish. They do not know better, and their naivety is the result of never learning what keeping Shabbat truly means.
However, this ignorance is not limited to the uneducated. There are many Jews who learn Torah daily and perform the mitzvot to their best ability. However, regarding their Shabbat observance, they have a peripheral understanding of the complexities of Shabbat’ laws. They may understand the main concepts, but they do not know the depth and intricacies that surround the extensive laws of observing Shabbat properly.
Observing Shabbat properly is dependent on one’s understanding of Shabbat laws. R’ Yonatan Eybeschutz wrote in Ya’arot Devash (Volume II, Drush 2), that without reviewing all the detailed laws of Shabbat multiple times, it is impossible to escape the desecration of Shabbat.
By committing yourself to thoroughly studying the laws of Shabbat, you will not only understand how to properly observe Shabbat, but the holy power of this learning will also protect you from even accidentally desecrating Shabbat.
Knowledge is Power
The Baal Shem Tov, zt”l, applied this very concept to the performance of all the mitzvot when he taught that if a Jew is presented with the opportunity to fulfill a mitzvah that is challenging for him, he should learn the relevant laws in the Torah, and, by doing so, he will receive help from the Heavens to be able to actualize that mitzvah completely and properly. The same is true of the transgressions. When a person faces the enticements of the Yetzer Harah (evil inclination), when he is tempted to sin, if he learns the laws that apply to that prohibition, he will receive the strength from the Heavens to overcome that temptation.
R’ Yissachar Dov from Belz, zt”l explained, that we see this same idea when the Jews received the Ten Commandments in Parshat Yitro. The pasuk says (Shemot 20:1), ‘Hashem spoke all these words, to respond…’ Rashi taught that the Jews responded to each positive commandment “yes”, and to each negative commandment “no”. That verbalization, explained the Rebbe, helped empower the yidden to be able to observe the mitzvot.
Similarly, a Jew once approached R’ Aharon from Belz, zt”l. He had desecrated Shabbat once and wanted to know how he could remedy that wrongdoing. The Rebbe told him, “Spend an entire year learning the laws of Shabbat carefully and in-depth. This will correct your past transgression and will also be a Segulah to protect you from doing so again in the future.”
A Proven Segulah
The Tiferet Shlomo from Radamsk, zt”l, spent Shabbat with his Rebbe, R’ Yeshayahu from Peshdevorz. After Havdalah, the Rebbe asked the Tiferet Shlomo to sing “Hamavdil”. He sang with such liveliness and passion that everyone was compelled to come and hear the melody. When he finished, the Rebbe reached into his Shabbat coat and found a coin which he gave to the Tiferet Shlomo and said, “This is the payment for singing Hamavdil.”
Then the Rebbe added, “I have extensively studied and memorized the laws of Shabbat. Therefore, it is impossible that I would have forgotten that a coin was left in the coat I wear on Shabbat. My studies have ensured that I would not violate a single law of Shabbat even accidentally. Therefore, I have to conclude that Eliyahu HaNavi placed that coin in my pocket so that I may give it to you.”
The Baal HaTanya zt”l related, that when he was arrested and being escorted to prison, Shabbat was rapidly approaching. As the sun began to set, he asked the guards to allow him to stop and not to travel on Shabbat. Of course, they denied his request. As a result, the Rebbe began to reflect on his Shabbat observance and realized that there was one aspect of Shabbat law that was still unclear to him. He immediately began analyzing and dissecting every aspect of that law. The moment it became clear to him, the wheel of the wagon that was transporting him broke, and they were forced to stop their travels until after Shabbat.
We can clearly see that engaging in the laws of Shabbat and studying them thoroughly helps protect someone from desecrating Shabbat in any way.
This is the reason that many tzaddikim and sages encouraged Jews to review these laws regularly on Shabbat. Many communities also have the custom of studying these laws on Shabbat through classes and self-study.
We can find the source for this in this week’s Parsha:
The Parsha begins with Moshe gathering all the Jews together and teaching them about the laws of Shabbat. The Midrash (Yalkut Shemoni, 408) taught that throughout the entire Torah this is the only Parsha that begins with gathering all the Jews. The message, explains the Midrash, is clear: Hashem was teaching us that we need to create large congregations and gather them for the purpose of teaching Shabbat laws. The Midrash concludes that throughout the generations the Jews should gather in shul every Shabbat to study the laws of the Shabbat together.
Based on what we have said above, we can explain the rest of the pasuk that says, “… and he said to them: ‘These are the things that the Lord commanded to make’.” The commentators note that since what follows are the actions a person cannot do on Shabbat, it should have said “These are the things that the Lord commanded NOT to make”. We can explain that the Hebrew word for things, הדברים, can be read to mean “words” – meaning the words of Torah study. Therefore, the pasuk can be interrupted to be teaching us that the yidden need to “make” and set up classes that focus on the words of Torah and the laws that are relevant to observing Shabbat.
The next pasuk says (Shemot 35:2), “Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have sanctity, a day of complete rest to the Lord; whoever performs work thereon [on this day] shall be put to death”. Through studying the laws of Shabbat, a person merits to be successful during the ‘Six days work may be done’, and you will merit ‘on the seventh day you shall have sanctity’; your study of Shabbat laws will enable you to sanctify the day and guard it from any semblance of transgression. And you will merit only goodness and brachot (blessings).
The Kalever Rebbe is the seventh Rebbe of the Kaalov Chasidic dynasty, begun by his ancestor who was born to his previously childless parents after receiving a blessing from the Baal Shem Tov zy”a, and later learned under the Maggid of Mezeritch zt”l. The Rebbe has been involved in outreach for more than 30 years and writes weekly emails on understanding current issues through the Torah. You can sign up at www.kaalov.org.