On Friday morning one should take pains to personally prepare whatever is necessary for Shabbat, even if one happens to have several servants. Consider the example of the Sages of Israel, the holy ones on high, as it is said in chapter “All Sacred Writings” (Shabbat 119a): In preparation for Shabbat, Rabbi Nachman b. Isaac carried in and carried out, saying, ‘If Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Asi visited me, would I not carry for them?’ Others state: Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Asi carried in and out saying, ‘If Rabbi Joshua visited us, would we not carry for him?’” |
These holy people indicated that if they would do this when hosting each other, how much more so when they are hosting the King of the Universe, amid the mystery of Shabbat. For Shabbat is the entirety of the holy rungs, the mystery of the Faith of Israel, She who comes and rests on the Holy People. – Sod ha-Shabbat, From the Tola’at Yaakov of Rabbi Meir ibn Gabbai.
I used to watch my grandfather, Rav Ruderman zt”l prepare for a visit from Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l or Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zt”l. He would run back and forth in his home asking my grandmother a”h what he could do to help her prepare. It was as if he was preparing for a visit from the King. He often spoke of how his Rebbi, the Alter of Slabodka zt”l would do the same when expecting a visit from a great Sage. He insisted that, as in the Talmudic selection above, Rabbi Nachman prepared for Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Asi, who, in turn, would prepare for Rabbi Joshua, that one must learn from his Rebbi how to properly honor Sages, and, that only through learning how to honor one’s Rebbi, could one learn how to prepare for Shabbat.
Shabbat preparation must be an expression of Mesorah, tradition handed down from previous generations, as our connection is never to just this one Shabbat, but to every Shabbat in history, observed by every Jew, in every place, throughout history. A Shabbat that is “the entirety of the Holy Rungs,” must be observed as the Shabbat of history, all of them combined in one.
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