July 16, 2024
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Enjoying Our Wedding With Hashem Each Shabbos

My student Boruch Falkovsky came to America from Russia when he was in his 30s. It started as a two-week visit to Yeshiva Ohr Sameach in Monsey shortly before Rosh Hashanah, arranged by his cousin. Baruch heard a rabbi giving a shiur about swinging a chicken over one’s head while reciting a prayer. Fresh out of Russia, he thought, “This is America? This is capitalism? Swinging a chicken over your head?? America is crazy!” Around Monsey, he saw everyone walking around with hats and jackets in late summer and thought, “It’s 90 F outside! These crazy Americans—they wear hats and jackets in the summer? I think I’ll go back to Russia!”

The rosh yeshiva at Ohr Sameach, Rabbi Rokowsky, set him up in different houses over Shabbos and Yom Tov. For Rosh Hashanah night, he was with a Chassidishe family which included 15 children, some married with children of their own, and grandparents. They all looked regal in their clothing finery. The father started to sing songs and the whole family sang along with him. They all stood at attention to listen to the father make kiddush. They had delicious food to eat, with the children serving their elderly grandparents and taking care of them. He thought, “Wow, this is so beautiful! Maybe there is something good going on in America.”

The next day he was with a Litvishe family. They also had a beautiful meal. At the next meal, he was with a Sephardi family. Spectacular! Meal after meal, over Shabbos and Yom Tov, Boruch was amazed at the joyous observance of those special days. “There must be something worthwhile here,” he thought.

Shabbos, especially kiddush, has the ability to bring out a sense of majesty. We realize that there is something greater and something more beautiful to life than just our weekday living. What is the power of Shabbos and how does it bring us closer to Hashem?

Parshas Yisro contains the Aseres HaDibros (Ten Commandments). The fourth one is, “Zachor es Yom HaShabbos, remember the Shabbos.” Besides the actual mitzvah of Shabbos, the Rambam tells us that the Torah is instructing us to remember Shabbos by reciting kiddush at the beginning of Shabbos, and Havdala at the conclusion of Shabbos.

Think about your experience when you go to the wedding of a close family member or friend. You stay from beginning to end! Why? Because you feel really close to them. The hours there … just fly by.

Every Shabbos is really a wedding between us and Hashem. We can see this in the Shemoneh Esrei of Shabbos. It’s interesting that the central text of each Shabbos Shemoneh Esrei prayer is different, unlike those of the weekdays. Commentators explain that the reason for the change of each tefillah of Shabbos is because each one is expressing a different stage of the wedding which is taking place between us and Hashem on Shabbos.

The Maariv Shemoneh Esrei on Friday night starts out with “Atah kiddashta, You have sanctified.” Kiddushin, the actual marriage, takes place at the beginning of the wedding, when the chosson says to the kallah, “Harei at mekudeshes li, Behold, you are betrothed unto me.” That is the kiddushin.

The morning Shemoneh Esrei opens with “Yismach Moshe bematenas chelko… kelil tiferes berosho nasata lo.” “Kelil” refers to the crowns that were placed on the heads of Bnei Yisrael at the giving of the Torah. The Gemara says that Hashem suspended Har Sinai over Bnei Yisrael like a barrel, which could be viewed as a chuppah (canopy). That is the second stage of Shabbos—the chuppah.

The Minchah Shemoneh Esrei opens with the words “Atah Echad, You are One.” “Echad” refers to “yichud,” being one with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. After the wedding, the chosson and kallah go to the yichud room as husband and wife, to enjoy private time together.

These are the three elements of Shabbos: the beginning—kiddushin; the middle—the chuppah; and before the conclusion of Shabbos—yichud. That’s how we experience Shabbos every week. The entrance of Shabbos (kiddush) is something exciting—it’s a kiddushin. When we wake up Shabbos morning—the middle of Shabbos—we’re at the chuppah; we’re together with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. We have all day to daven, to learn and to spend time with our family. Then before Shabbos ends we have yichud, which is just us and Hashem. That’s how we exit every Shabbos. Every Shabbos constitutes a new relationship between us and HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

May Hashem grant us a deep, tender and meaningful relationship with Him each Shabbos!

Correction: Two weeks ago, it stated in this column, “Why would someone want to steal someone else’s baby? It must have been because she couldn’t give birth…” In fact, she had given birth, but her baby had died tragically. (See Melachim I Chapter 3)


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com

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