by Rabbi Pinchas Jung
Excerpt from Transforming Kabbalas Shabbos I: Preparing for Take-off
An edited transcript is below, or click on the player to listen free (5 minutes)
It’s important to avoid treating Shabbos as something ordinary because it occurs so frequently. On the contrary, we should treat it as a really special occasion, an exciting event.
A great moshol that we could use is to compare Shabbos to a journey by air, a flight. Those who have flown are aware that there are two crucial times during the flight. While preparing for take off, the flight attendants will go up and down the aisles, making sure the overhead bins are closed. They will remind you to turn off all electronic devices, that your seatbelt is fastened, tray tables up, seat in an upright position. Once the plane is in motion, they’ll tell the crew to be ready for takeoff.
The same rules will apply for landing. Just prior to landing they’ll give you the same lecture and again they’ll alert the crew and make sure that they are seated and everything is set for a safe landing. During the flight, most of these rules will not apply, but if there's turbulence, they will instruct you to return to your seat, fasten your seatbelt and hopefully, the disturbance will pass quickly.
Let's use this experience to understand Shabbos, our approach to Shabbos and how we can really make the best of this weekly gift. On Shabbos, we exist on a higher level, a higher plane (forgive the pun), and we would like to maintain that level as we sing in the zemiros, “Shamor l’kadsho m’boi’oi v’ad tzeiso,” to keep Shabbos kodesh from beginning to end...
So with this moshol in mind, and the possibility of turbulence along the journey, the nimshol, this unique level of kedusha for the entire period of Shabbos might not be so easy to maintain. It’s common to get sidetracked into weekday discussions or things that are not appropriate for the high level kedusha, the mood of Shabbos, and therefore you have to be watchful of it and try to get back to flying at the correct altitude.
For kaballas Shabbos, Friday afternoon, which this time of year is winter with the shortest Fridays, we want to encourage everybody to be home from work with enough time to prepare, to be dressed specially for Shabbos (and perhaps even to help with the preparations) and to be able to enter Shabbos already in a mood of menucha, to be relaxed, with piece of mind and go to shul in that very special frame of mind, so different from the weekday mode.
Once in shul, we can appreciate that it’s not a time for socializing, and there are many who are tempted, we see this a bit too often if I may say so, to take out a siddur with one or two sefarim.
Learning, of course, is essential, and there are times set aside for learning. The gemara teaches that there is “zman Torah lechud” and “zman tefillah lechud,” a time for davening and a time for learning.
Masmidim will find time for each of these activities, but now is the time to daven Mincha, kabalas Shabbos and Maariv, and join in the singing. It’s not the time for sefarim...
To be continued...