Halacha for Wednesday 21 Iyar 5784 May 29 2024

Enjoyment of Shabbat

Our Sages taught: One who observes, honors, and enjoys Shabbat will enjoy even more reward in this world than what is set aside for him in the World to Come, as the verse states, “Then you can enjoy from Hashem, I will set you astride the heights of the earth, and let you enjoy the heritage of your father Yaakov, for Hashem’s mouth has spoken.”

The Obligation to Make Shabbat Enjoyable
The Gemara (Pesachim 65b) states that besides the obligation to study Torah and pray on Shabbat, one must make Shabbat as enjoyable as possible with fine foods, clothing, and the like, based on one’s means. The Sefer Olat Shabbat rules that if one wishes to spend the entire Shabbat engrossed in enjoying food and drink, one may, as long as one does not miss the appropriate prayer times. Nevertheless, the Magen Avraham (Chapter 242) rebuffs his words and proves from the words of our Sages that one must “also” make Shabbat enjoyable; however, this does not mean that one may spend the entire Shabbat steeped in this enjoyment. Rather, one must study Torah as well. Many homes have the custom that women and girls recite many chapters of Tehillim throughout Shabbat.

Our Sages added that one who makes Shabbat enjoyable shall merit longevity. The Yalkut Ha’Ruveni states that one who does not make Shabbat enjoyable, although given the opportunity to do so, is tantamount to stealing from Hashem, for Hashem gives one money to enjoy Shabbat and this individual does not do so. One who has already transgressed this law should rectify this with extra involvement in Torah and Mitzvot. The Tikunei Ha’Zohar writes that one who has the ability to make Shabbat enjoyable and does not do so causes the Hebrew word for enjoyment (“Oneg”) to flip around into the word “Nega” (affliction), and this causes one’s house and wealth to be destroyed.

Heavenly Angels
Our Sages also write that Heavenly angels visit one’s home every Shabbat and look at the table. It is for this reason that the Kaf Ha’Chaim writes that one should not place any disgraceful object on the table. Even a person sitting alone should not set the table with food in a way that is not respectful.

Women are equally obligated in the Mitzvah of making Shabbat enjoyable (Kaf Ha’Chaim, Chapter 242). In general, women have a tremendous merit in this regard, for they are entrusted with food preparation, setting the table, and the like, besides for the precious Mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles which is also included in the Mitzvah of enjoyment of Shabbat.

Joy on Shabbat
Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that there is a disagreement among the Poskim regarding whether or not there is an obligation of joy on Shabbat (as there is on Yom Tov). Thus, halachically, there is no obligation to eat meat and drink wine on Shabbat, nevertheless, if one is able to purchase these items and one enjoys them, one should certainly do so in honor of Shabbat.

Magid Mesharim
Maran Ha’Bet Yosef was the greatest sage of his generation, a great genius and truly righteous man, and he was visited by a dedicated angel, called a “Magid,” who would teach him the secrets of the Torah and instruct him how to behave. These lessons were recorded in the Sefer Magid Mesharim. Among other things, the angel instructed Maran not to eat too much on Shabbat and that other people should be careful of the same, for one may regret having eaten. Indeed, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 101a) quotes the verse, “All the days of a poor man are bad,” since he is hungry. The Gemara asks that there are the days of Shabbat and Yom Tov where even the poor eat good foods, so how can we say that his days are bad? The Gemara explains that when one changes one’s normal eating habits, one regrets it later. A poor man does not eat much during the week and then, when he suddenly eats more on Shabbat, he suffers from this. Hagaon Rabbeinu Chaim Palagi writes similarly in his Kaf Ha’Chaim and warns not to eat too much on Shabbat, such that one will regret what one ate, for one loses the reward for a Mitzvah one regrets having done.

The Shela writes that it is for this reason that the Sages did not command us to “enjoy ourselves on Shabbat,” rather, they instructed us to “make Shabbat enjoyable” in order to hint that one should intend to make Shabbat enjoyable for honor of Shabbat, not for one’s own benefit. That is why the verse states, “And you shall declare Shabbat enjoyable,” for one should designate the enjoyment in honor of Shabbat. Indeed, Rabbeinu Yosef Haim writes that although one who intends for the enjoyment to be in honor of Shabbat along with one’s own personal enjoyment fulfills this Mitzvah, the Mitzvah is still incomplete until one focuses everything for the sake of Heaven.

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