Halacha for Tuesday 20 Iyar 5784 May 28 2024

The Mitzvah of “Enjoyment of Shabbat”

The verse in the book of Yeshaya (Chapter 58) states: “And you shall call Shabbat [a day of] pleasure.” We see from here that there is a Mitzvah for one to make Shabbat as enjoyable as possible through such things as eating and drinking tasty things.

Since this Mitzvah is not an explicit commandment from the Torah, rather it is understood from the words of the prophet Yeshaya, the Rambam writes that this is not a Torah obligation and is only a rabbinic commandment. Nevertheless, one should be meticulous with this Mitzvah, for its reward is great indeed, as the prophet (ibid.) continues, “Then Hashem shall bestow enjoyment upon you and I shall carry you on the heights of the land and I shall feed you the inheritance of your forefather, Yaakov, so has Hashem spoken.” The Gemara in Masechet Shabbat (118a) tells us that Rabbi Yochanan derived from this verse in the name of Rabbi Yose that “anyone who enjoys Shabbat shall be given a limitless inheritance.” The Gemara continues to enumerate several other great rewards for this Mitzvah.

Some Rishonim (such as the Rashba and the Rivash) write that this Mitzvah is actually a Torah commandment since Shabbat is considered one of the festivals mentioned by the Torah which the Torah calls “Proclamations of Holiness” and our Sages interpret this to mean that one must sanctify and honor the festivals by wearing clean clothes and enjoy them by eating and drinking. According to this opinion, one would have to intend to fulfill a Torah commandment while eating. Even according to the Rambam, one should at least have in mind to fulfill the Mitzvah of enjoyment of Shabbat while eating.

Some explain that this Mitzvah is a Torah commandment for although it is not mentioned explicitly in the Torah, nevertheless, our Sages treated it as a “Halacha Moshe learned at Mount Sinai” and it has the weight of a Torah commandment.

The following are the words of the Rambam (Chapter 30 of Hilchot Shabbat) which apply to our discussion: “What is considered enjoyment? This refers to what our Sages said that one must prepare a fatty cooked dish and spiced drink (i.e. delicious foods and tasty beverages) for Shabbat based on one’s financial status. The more one spends on the expenses of Shabbat and the preparation of delicacies, the more praiseworthy one is. If one cannot afford this, even if he has only prepared one simple cooked food in honor of Shabbat, this is considered his enjoyment of Shabbat.”

The Gemara speaks lengthily about the significance of one who causes Shabbat to be enjoyable and honors Shabbat based on one’s means. The Gemara recounts a story about a man named Yosef Mokir Shabbat (Yosef who honors the Shabbat). A wealthy gentile who lived in Yosef’s neighborhood and would commonly seek advice from astrologers and other fortune-tellers was once advised by such astrologers that his neighbor, Yosef the Jew, would receive all of his possessions. The wealthy man immediately sold all of his material possessions and used the money to buy a magnificent, priceless pearl that he had sewn into his hat so that his neighbor, Yosef, would not be able to get his hands on his possessions. One day, this wealthy man was walking on a bridge across a river and suddenly, a strong wind blew off his hat into the waters of the river below. A fish appeared and then swallowed this hat. It happened that the fishermen of this city caught this fish close to the start of Shabbat, but they wondered who would be willing to purchase this fish from them at such a late hour. They were told to go to Yosef for although he certainly had already prepared fish for Shabbat because of his intense honor for Shabbat, nevertheless, if he would be shown an especially beautiful fish, he would buy it. Indeed, when the fisherman showed Yosef this fish, he purchased it eagerly. While he was gutting and preparing the fish for cooking, he found a stunning pearl in its innards. Upon meeting “a certain elderly man” (whom some say is Eliyahu Ha’Navi who sometimes appears to righteous people), he was told that whoever borrows money in honor of Shabbat, the Shabbat itself pays back his debts.

Nevertheless, one should not borrow extensively in honor of Shabbat if one has no natural means to repay these debts.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Parashat Ki Tetze

Gathered from the teachings of Maran Rebbeinu Ovadia Yosef ztzvk”l (from the years 5744-5772) (written by his grandson HaRav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a) (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) Ellul is the Time to Engage in Battle Against the Yetzer Hara, ......

Read Halacha

Eating Cake on Shabbat Morning

Today's Halacha is dedicated for the merit and protection of All Our Dear Soldiers May Hashem give them strength and courage to vanquish our enemies and may they return home safe and sound amid health and joy. May Hashem protect all the captives and have mercy upon them so that no harm befalls......

Read Halacha

 The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing

Our Sages teach us (Eruvin 40b) that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing upon seeing a new fruit that renews once a year. Even if one sees this fruit in the hands of another person or on the tree, one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing. Nevertheless, the P......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Blood Found in Eggs

Blood in Eggs Blood found in eggs is forbidden for consumption, for this blood indicates the beginning of the embryotic development of the chick and this chick has the halachic status of “fowl” whose blood is forbidden for consumption by Torah law; thus, the opinion of the Rosh and Tosa......

Read Halacha


Parashat Terumah

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Difference Between Moshe and Betzalel [Understanding Why Betzalel Was Able to Make the Menorah, Whilst Moshe Couldn’t] This Sh......

Read Halacha

The Proper Method for Reciting Blessings

During the days preceding Tu Bishvat, we have discussed some laws of blessings. We shall now discuss the law that the food must be in front of the individual before reciting a blessing, for this is the first law in reference to the laws of blessings. Waiting Until the Food is Brought Before the I......

Read Halacha

The Scent of Lemon

Question: If one smells the pleasant scent of a lemon, which blessing should one recite? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 43b) states: “Mor Zutra said: One who smells the fragrance of an Etrog  (citron), or a quince recites the blessing of ‘Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’......

Read Halacha

Parashat Vayechi

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Power of a Good Word In the weekly Parashah, Yaakov Avinu gathered his sons and blessed them before he passed away, as the Torah sta......

Read Halacha