Working on Shabbos

@Kesher We're Working on Shabbos

Dear Friend,

As a community, we would like to harness the energy surrounding the worldwide Shabbat Project (26-7 October 2018) and to use the weeks until ShabbatUK (1-2 March 2019) to upgrade and enhance our Shabbat experience. We want to ‘work on Shabbat’. And we need your help.
Brainstorm, suggest and test ideas that can make every Shabbat more meaningful, more precious, more authentic, more holy, more fun: For ourselves, our families our guests, our Kehillah, and all of Klal Yisrael.
It’s great (and indeed essential) to keep Shabbat but it’s even greater for it to be the priceless, indispensable, undisputed highlight of the week. What could make that happen? What little change or new idea would move the needle for you?
Think about three areas:

  • Preparing for Shabbat
  • Celebrating Shabbat
  • Observing Shabbat

Ideas can be your own, or something you have observed or read. It can be a helpful or inspiring custom, practice, or idea, or an aspect of the Laws of Shabbat which you may have recently learned or have come to especially value. No idea is too small or too quirky. If it works for you, it may work for others. Remember, we’re all “working on Shabbat”.

Week 1

Shabbos Enhancement Idea of the Week: One small thing

Preparing for Shabbat:

It is well known that although the mitzvah of Shabbat candles is incumbent equally on men and women, in a household setting the privilege of/responsibility for this mitzvah is the province of the woman. Nevertheless, the Ari (see OH 263:3 and MB 12) teaches that the husband should prepare the candles on behalf of his wife. Ie, she has the primary role, and he has a supportive role in illuminating the home on Friday night. In order to be certain to fulfil this minhag, and equally to avoid the last-minute rush (particularly on a “short Friday”) Rabbi Simon’s practice is to prepare the lights for Rebbetzin Ruthie when he returns home from shul after Shabbos the week before. Easy to do and part of preparing for Shabbos literally from the beginning of the week.

Week 2

Shabbos Enhancement Idea of the Week: Don’t Crash into Shabbos

In the Preparing for Shabbat category, here’s an idea for Friday afternoon. Try it today!

You’re coming home from work or school or errands, at the end of a long week. You’re in a rush, you’re stressed, you may have left the office or class or store but it’s all still with you in your head. You’re approaching home like a speeding, laden locomotive. Unless you slow down and switch gears you’re going to crash into home. Or crash into Shabbos. Instead of bringing in Shabbos you’re bringing in stress and distraction.  

So here’s a simple idea- instead of just rushing through the door, wait outside for 2 minutes.  

Don’t use the phone, don’t move. Just imagine the weekday stress cooling down. The pressure is dropping.   

Shabbat is on the other side of that door.  

So decompress, take a breath and then go inside. As Abie Rotenberg sings, “it’s time to say good Shabbos” (click on it!).

Can’t spare the 2 minutes at the front door? Use the time on the train/bus/car to de-stress. No work emails, messages, reading or planning. Shabbos is on its way!

For a video clip of this concept follow this link to powtoon.

Week 3

Shabbos Enhancement Idea of the Week: Dress for the Queen

For a video clip of this concept follow this link to powtoon.

Week 4

Shabbos Enhancement Idea of the Week: Stepping Up: Learn a page of the Laws of Shabbat at the table

The Chofetz Chaim wrote Mishnah Berurah, an authoritative halakhic guide which remains indispensable until today (110 years after its publication). In the Introduction to the Laws of Shabbat, he quotes the 18th-century sage Rabbi Jonathan Eibeschutz that one who endeavours to observe Shabbat fully and correctly will nevertheless struggle to do so without error week by week unless s/he studies and reviews the (sometimes complex) laws thoroughly. Since “Rome was not built in a day,” a practical and accessible strategy is to learn a small section of these laws every week. And what better setting than at the Shabbat table at every meal? Choose a suitable text, such as Rabbi JJ Neuwirth’s (English version in 3 vols.) Shemirath Shabbath, or another, perhaps simpler or even more specialised book, and your Shabbat expertise will grow week by week.

For a video clip of this concept follow this link to powtoon.

Questions & Answers
this week

Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Easy as א-ב-ג?
Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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