preparations for shabbath, definitely recommended

One of my favorite things about working in Israel is that most jobs have vacation on friday, erev Shabbath. The down side for some is that most jobs work on sunday. This doesn't bother me at all, in America sundays always gave me a headache--too much unstructured time. The best part about not working on friday is that I can get all of my Shabbath-related preparations done early, and then enjoy a nice gradual coast into Shabbath. (in theory at least)

Israel, the life where idyllic fantasies become realities, or so I thought. In parashath Beshalach the Maor Eynayim teaches that each day of the six-day work week relates to one of the six middle midoth. (Those that are hinted to by the vav (ו) in HaShem's name: Hesed, Gevurah, Tiffereth, Netzah, Hod, Yesod) Friday relates to the sefirah of Yesod--connection to God. In each of the days you must work in order to rectify that particular midah (attribute) in you for that particular week. (Each week is essentially a fresh cycle with a new you, revealed by the last Shabbath--from a certain perspective)

On friday, the Maor Eyanyim reveals--to my chagrin--that we must work the hardest right up until Shabbath when the calm and peace of Shabbath falls upon the world. The harder we work in those last hours, the more accomplished and fulfilled our week is. [Note of course that this work must be in preparation for Shabbath--since the Halachah strictly forbids working for any other reason from at the very least two hours before the beginning of Shabbath]

What am I to do now with this intrinsic desire I have to coast into Shabbath and the reality of the Maor Eynayim that rest on friday will only take away from my heightened Shabbath experience?

Rebbe Nachman would always weigh a new practice or a new teaching for months before taking it upon himself. I will have to follow his good advice and start to think about this new practice and how to and if to fit it into my life. I try and brush it under the table by saying that today's times are so rushed and fast-paced, that by slowing down on friday, it is actually a preparation for Shabbath, but that sounds like an apologetic stretch of the imagination--instead I will maintain that learning Torah is the best way to prepare for Shabbath and try and learn as much as possible in the few hours remaining friday before Shabbath, in a way it's relaxing, but in a way it's still a lot of work. (bli neder)

[For a little added support I will remind myself that Rav Shalom Brodt once related a story about Shlomo Carlebach and intimated that Reb Shlomo used to sit and learn a sizable amount of Torah friday afternoon in preparation for Shabbath and this was one of his most prized private times.]


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