Friday, March 26, 2010
When Shabbos comes, after all the hours of preparation and last minute rush, the mother of the house lights Shabbos candles. She says the bracha, covers her eyes and begins to daven. This special time of welcoming Shabbos into our homes is used as an opportunity to ask Hashem for good children. It is also a chance to ask Hashem for anything and everything. When your mother lights candles, you can also stand there with her and daven for your own personal needs. Daven for other people who have not yet experienced the beauty of yiddishkeit. Daven for people you know who need health, shidduchim, yeshuos, parnassah, shalom bayis. Daven for those neshamos who have left the path of Torah and that they should want to come back to Hashem.
There is a special holiness in the Shabbos candles. The neshama is compared to a candle because just like when you hold a candle in your hands, whichever way you turn it, the flame will always go upwards, a neshama always seeks to strive higher and get closer to Hashem. No matter which way you turn it-no matter what situation a person is in, their neshama always screams from inside-it wants to get closer to Hashem!
When Shabbos comes, we are given an extra neshama-a neshama yeseira. This is why Shabbos is a day where we can achieve higher levels of ruchniyus. It can be compared to a balloon. When you blow it up, there is more room in it. On Shabbos, Hashem blows this extra neshama into you and that is why you can grow even more on Shabbos-if you use the time you have to come closer to Him.
Also, on Shabbos, Hashem says, I want you to enjoy all the goodness and brachos I put into this world. Make extra special foods! Buy things you like to eat and enjoy all the pleasures that I have put in to this world and then, THANK ME for the great things I gave you!! Hashem wants us to enjoy Shabbos! He wants us to be happy! He wants us to use the brachos He gave us to come closer to Him and thank Him for all the good things He gave us!!
Spend time with your friends, read something you enjoy and relax! It is your day!!
When Shabbos is over, we also light a candle. The extra neshama-which is compared to a candle-leaves us. I was once at someone's house for Shabbos and right before the father came home for havdalah, their little boy, who must have been about 5 years old had this sad look on his face, held his heart and said, "Mommy, I'm so sad, I feel my neshama yeseirah leaving me!!" Imagine that! The innocence and purity of a little child! He was able to picture it and really let the feeling into his heart!! Isn't that precious?
So this Shabbos, when the candles are lit, take a few moments to daven for yourself, your future and for all the people you know who need yeshuos!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
How to put your ego in check and let your soul shine through.
by Rabbi Chaim Levine
Ah Spring. Hay fever, Spring fever. The sound of lawnmowers being restarted after months of hibernation. What spring would be complete without houses full of neurotic Passover cleaners, scurrying around hardware stores looking for everything from sandpaper to gas torches.
To the uninitiated perhaps all this Passover cleaning looks a bit mundane. Hopefully by now you know better, and the questions on your mind are more like:
- What exactly does bending down to scour out the space under the fridge have to do with purification of the soul and achieving true freedom?
- Can we use herring for Marror?
- Can one use a Dustbuster to pick up chametz?
Let me reassure you that before Passover there’s not much more you can do for the old inner spirit than bowling for breadcrumbs. Why you ask? This is how it works:
You may have noticed that in Judaism we approach the spiritual through our involvement in the physical. Sitting by a river meditating is nice, but real spirituality comes from making the mundane sacred.
Further, we see the physical as bridge to the spiritual because Judaism recognizes that the physical has been created as a visceral mirror for abstract spiritual concepts. Case in point: cleaning for chametz.
The Sages say that the wick of the candle is a metaphor for the body and the flame is a metaphor for the soul.
The Talmud states that actual mitzvah of cleaning out your chametz is to be done with a candle. After the chametz is found, it is then to be burned in a flame.
The Sages say that the wick of the candle is a metaphor for the body and the flame is a metaphor for the soul. Just like however you position the wick, the flame always points upwards to the heavens, so too, no matter what you do with your body, your soul always stays true to its source. Your essence always remains pure and good, no matter what you do with yourself.
(I like to call this the "weebles wobble but they don’t fall down" theory of the soul.)
ALL PUFFED UP
Chametz -- the air that puffs up dough into bread -- is the ego. Just as chametz makes bread look bigger than it is without adding any substance, so too an ego filled with self importance is ultimately nothing but hot air.
How to we remove the ego? The answer is through the seemingly mundane act of Passover cleaning.
We take the candle and shine it in the darkest hidden cracks, exposing the chametz. When we look at ourselves through the lens of the soul we expose the chametz hiding within and recognize it as a puffed-up illusion. Once exposed, it goes up in smoke.
SEASON OF FREEDOM
Passover is the season of freedom. But freedom can only come if you have released yourself from being a slave to your ego.
If your ego has you in a death-hold, if you run after success because you think only success will you be happy, if you need other people's praise and reassurance to feel okay about yourself, you are a enslaved. If you can’t control your anger, or you are trapped by your fears, then you aren’t free. Burning away the chametz of your personality frees you to the life of the soul.
There is another spiritual idea that comes from chametz that, when understood, teaches the true nature of the ego.
Chametz is nothing but puffed up matzah. But what chametz is actually made out of is nothing less than matzah itself! So too there is an idea that the ego is nothing but a corrupt twisted desire that actually has its basis in a drive coming from the soul. For example:
- The soul wants only to give, to help humanity and fix the world. The ego’s perverted version of this noble drive is the desire for power and control, the urge to conquer the world.
- The soul wants to connect with the Divine. The ego wants to use spirituality to serve its needs (this is the basis for idol worship).
- The soul wants to connect with other people meaningfully. The ego corrupts this desire into a drive to manipulate and take from people.
By seeing that often the ego is nothing but a corruption of a noble desire we can easily move past it and choose to be truly free.
Here are a couple of exercises that you can try this Passover.
- Ask yourself: "What ego-driven behaviors are enslaving me? What would life be like if they weren't there?" Ask God for the wisdom and understanding to see them for what they are.
- Try so see that some of the biggest problems your ego gives you are actually a corrupt form of something beautiful from the soul. Then pursue the noble, pure expression of that ego-driven behavior.
Friday, March 19, 2010
How can we come closer to Hashem this shabbos? What does it mean to spend time with Hashem and build a relationship with Him on Shabbos? And why is Shabbos any different than any other day of the week?
On this special day, when there are less distractions, we can connect to Hashem on a deeper level. One way to do this is to go out of your way to make this day more spiritual. For example, you can read a book on a topic that will enhance your appreciation for yiddishkeit. You can read a hashkafah book or something on the Parsha. There are so many books out there-in English-that you can read! Let me know if you want any suggestions.
You can say some extra tehillim with a tehillim that has the meaning of the words inside it (such as an interlinear one). The tehillim is so incredible, saying it with proper concentration and thought can really help you connect to your Loving Father more!!
You can do an extra mitzvah - such as visiting someone who is elderly or sick or volunteering to help a family through Chai Lifeline.
You can make it your business to help your own family out more on Shabbos-babysit your younger siblings so your mother can rest.
You can go to a speech on a topic that you feel you need chizuk in.
You can learn something with your friend(s) that will help answer some of the questions you had.
Anything that you do on Shabbos that will enhance and improve your spiritual level is connecting to Hashem in a very deep way. That is how you spend time with Hashem-by learning His Torah and doing His mitzvos.
Shabbos is such a special day! It is a day we can all feel Hashem's love on a deeper level. If a person takes a moment to stop what they are doing and just THINK about all the amazing things Hashem does for them, their heart will be filled with such an incredible love for Him!! There are so many miracles in this world - right in front of your eyes!! Just open up your eyes and you will see-every human being who is walking down the street is a real miracle! Do you know what it means to have a pair of eyes that can see every color of the rainbow?
Recently, I was reading about how there was a new discovery/invention to try to restore eyesight to people who were blind. It was incredible to read about it and see that try as they might, the researchers are unable to duplicate the human eye! It is the most amazing camera that ever existed. You can notice something from the corner of your eye without even looking at it! You can see an unlimited amount of colors. The lens in your camera - the human eye - cleans itself every few seconds, with special liquid just so that you have clarity of vision and nothing gets blurred. One of the challenges these people had when trying to create another eye is that it was going to work on electricity but everyone knows that you can't put these things in water but they needed to create a lens that could get wet!! They were able to create a special lens with a whole bunch of rods that goes in the person's eye...it was a whole complicated procedure and when the person put this lens on, they were only able to see vaguely, not very clearly!! So you see how amazing the human eye is and that is only a small, tiny piece of Hashem's creations!!!
You have the most magnificent and complicated camera - and two of them!! Wow, you are so lucky to have a pair of eyes that work!!
So take some time this Shabbos to think about some of the miracles going on inside you - and use some of these ideas to make this Shabbos a special one!!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
“I know, Shayna! What possessed her to buy it?”
“Probably on the sales rack at Loehmann’s!”
“Knowing Sarah, probably!”
“She’s so cheap!”
“And a nasty *****!”
There are so many negative effects of using bad language. Bad language in Judaism is separated into two main categories: lashon hara (gossip) and nivul peh (bad words). Judaism is extremely critical of using both forms of bad language. Lashon hara can ruin people’s reputations, hurt others’ feelings, and create a generally tense and unhappy environment. Nivul peh also creates a negative environment, making many people feel uncomfortable.
There are many reasons to avoid using bad language. When you hear people (like Shayna and Leah) talking about, for example, how ugly Sarah’s new dress is, you also tend to lose respect for them. (How many of you are impressed with Shayna and Leah’s empathy and kindness?) This also goes for when you hear a person using bad words, like describing Sarah with the kinds of words they bleep out on television. Why should you respect a person who doesn’t respect themselves enough to keep their mouth clean?
People will not only lose their respect for you, but will also think less of you. Some common stereotypes of people who use bad language are that they’re whiny, offensive, immature, unpleasant to be with, have a bad attitude, little character, and lack control.
Just as every Jewish home is a mikdash me’at (miniature Temple), every Jew is a representative of their family, past schools and workplace, and community. When you use bad language, people will not only think less of you, but your family. After all, someone had to raise you to speak that way, and you must be raising your children like that, too! People will also think less of any schools you attended and your workplace - people will think that people who graduated years before or after you use bad language, just because you did! People will also think less of your community when you use lashon hara and nivul peh. Your community can be any extended group you call yourself a part of, from your circle of friends to your nationality, ethnicity, or religion. Imagine what kind of chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d) would be committed if a non-Jew heard Shayna and Leah!
As a Jew, a person uses their mouth for many holy purposes: prayer, blessings, the name of G-d, Torah thoughts, and so many other religious reasons. It’s inappropriate to speak lashon hara and nivul peh with the same mouth that you say G-d’s name. One of the rabbis of the Jerusalem Talmud even said that had he created humankind, he would have made people with two mouths: one for holy thoughts and one for daily use. He then realized that this would be counterproductive, though; if people had separate mouths for holy and secular, then they would be indiscriminate about what they said with their non-holy mouth. Do you think Shayna and Leah’s blatant use of lashon hara and nivul peh is going to reflect well on their religious observance?
Because of my strong feelings against the usage of lashon hara and nivul peh, I created an organization called Bleep! whose mission is to eradicate the usage of bad language (but primarily the usage of bad words) among kids and teens today. Bleep!’s mission is to show people that there are negative effects of using bad language, and that’s why you should avoid it. It shouldn’t be a blind, knee-jerk reaction, but an understanding of the reasons behind the unacceptability of bad language. Bleep! currently has over 350 members in 20 states and eight countries, and is always looking for more! Membership is totally obligation-free. To sign up, simply send your name and state/province to firstname.lastname@example.org. As a member, all you have to “do” is receive the optional monthly newsletter. Joining Bleep! is really more about making a statement that you understand the negative effects of bad language, even if you personally indulge in it more often than recommended. You can visit Bleep!’s website at any time. Here is the information: http://sites.google.com/site/bleeporganization.
As the Jews were being freed from slavery in Egypt, G-d gave them the first commandment: the korban Pesach (sacrifice of Passover). Part of the detailed laws of the korban Pesach is that while eating it, you can’t break the bone of the animal. A book on Jewish law, Sefer HaChinuch, explains that the reason for this is because it’s not befitting for proud people to gnaw on bones like animals. It goes on to explain that how you act becomes who you are, so if you act like an animal, you’ll start “becoming” one (like the famous epithet you are what you eat.) This concept can also be applied to how you speak: when you speak lashon hara and nivul peh, you become that on the inside. Is that really want you want to be?
Thank you Talia Weisberg, the creator and founder of Bleep! for writing this article!
UPDATE 1: The new email address for Bleep! is email@example.com.
UPDATE 2 (August 2010): Bleep!'s email address has changed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Shabbos is the only day of the week in which each Tefillah of Shemone Esrei is different.
. In the evening, we recite "Ata Kidashta"-You have sanctified us.
. In the morning, we recite "Yismach Moshe"-Moshe was gladdened.
. In the afternoon, we recite "Ata Echad"-You are one.
The Sefer Avudraham (1:163) asks, why is it only on Shabbos-and not on the weekdays-or even on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur or the Shalosh Regalim-that the text of the Shemone Esrei changes at each one of the Tefillos?
He provides an amazing answer. Because Shabbos is called the "Kallah" (Bava Kama 32B), and Hakadosh Baruch Hu is called the Chosson, we first celebrate our initial participation in the Kiddushin, i.e., the commencement of the installment of Kedusha into Shabbos-by reciting "Ata Kidashta" on Leil Shabbos in ma'ariv. Indeed, it would seem that we joyously sing Lecha Dodi just as we escort the Chosson to greet the Kallah.
At Shacharis, we recite "Yismach Moshe"-Moshe rejoiced-as the Chosson's and Kallah's and participants' joy increases after the Chuppah, and as the Chassuna progresses. We are now invited to take an even more active role in the joy, as the Chosson asks us to take good care of his precious Kallah and we proudly recite "V'shomru Vnei Yisroel es HaShabbos." It is with the greatest honor and pleasure that we take the Chosson's request to heart, mind and action. As Chazal teach in Parshas Ki Sisah, we are now involved in something more important than even the building of the Bais Hamikdash (see Rashi, Shmos 31:13). We hope and pray for the Bais Hamikdash daily, yet we cannot violate Shabbos to attain it, because we have been asked to guard the Kallah.
We then continue with Mussaf, with the bringing of Korbanos as the "Seudas Mitzvah."
Finally, at Mincha we celebrate "Ata Echad"--the conclusion of the Chassuna--and the resulting unity and oneness of the Chosson and Kallah.
We may add that just as when you come home from a really joyous, nice Chassuna, or from the Chassuna of a close relative or friend, you bring the joy home with you (compare this to the Melave Malka), and the joy lasts for a few days--or even for the week, through the Sheva Brochos, so should our honored participation in the Simchas Shabbos last for several days, or perhaps even a week, until the next Shabbos--when we can once again experience transcendent and sublime joy.
There is no doubt that a direct correlation exists between the way we celebrate at a Chassuna and its lasting effect upon us. If our celebration is with the fish crepe, squash soup or well-done prime ribs in duck sauce, there will definitely be some kind of lasting effect (at least somewhere in--or on--the body!). But if we feel an internal joy out of close friendship and oneness with the Chosson and Kallah, the feeling will have even a greater impact and most certainly endure for a longer period. The feeling of closeness will cause you to "stay in contact" with the Chosson and Kallah.
Similarly, Rav Shlome Wolbe, Z'tl, once commented, that while a tasty Cholent is truly an important aspect of Shabbos, it should not in and of itself be the highlight of this sacrosanct day. Instead, we should actually try to establish the highlight of the day ourselves--our greatest moment of joy with the Chsoson and Kallah at their celebration.
Your highlight should be something special and meaningful, and may be:
. A heartfelt Lecha Dodi or Zemiros with feeling or even intensity.
. Learning Rashi, Ramban or Midrash or other commentaries on the Parsha. We can always draw wellsprings of information on how to conduct ourselves during the week by applying the Parsha's timeless and timely lessons.
. In Shacharis, reciting Nishmas slowly, word by word, or feeling moved at "Kel Adon" (not just waiting for the tune the Chazan will use).
. Helping to make the Shabbos table warm and inspirational with a poignant Devar Torah or lesson-filled story you have prepared.
. Giving meaningful advice or assistance to a Shabbos guest.
So, as we shower, shine our shoes, set the table or otherwise prepare for the great Chassuna this Shabbos, or even when we are at the Chassuna itself, let us go beyond the delectable kugels and cakes and pleasant and refreshing Shabbos nap, and think about how and what we will do this Shabbos that will permeate and elevate us and leave a supernal effect upon us through the week!
(Taken from last week's Hakhel post. Thank you to my friend-who knows who she is-for emailing this to me!)
Thursday, March 11, 2010
This is such an important question!! So many people have this question and I am so happy that you asked it so that I can try to answer it for you and for all those girls who are wondering about this!! You sound like such a special person - someone who really wants to feel fulfilled!!
Here's my answer: It is easy to grow confused when you are lacking direction. You feel like you are doing the same thing day in and day out and feel there is little purpose to what you are doing. But let me tell you a little secret - a person doesn't know what their tafkid in this world is!! Surprise, surprise! So many people have the same question you do. If we all knew what we needed to accomplish in this world, there would be little challenge for us because our mission is already figured out for us. Part of life is that we don't know what the real reason we were put into this world and what we are meant to do. But we do have some clues. Hashem has given us little hints along the way to help us figure it out. Each person should try to look out and listen to the messages Hashem is sending them.
We are given the Torah as our guide and our job is to do as many mitzvos as possible. I once heard that the things that are the hardest, the most difficult and challenging for you - those are the things Hashem put you into the world to fix. Each person knows what their challenges are. For some people it is anger, for others it's working on their kibbud av va'eim, and for others it's their patience that could use a little tune-up. Every person has challenges and things that are hard for them. Look deep inside yourself and see what it is that is really hard for you. That should give you a little bit of a clue of what you have to work on.
You want to feel more fulfilled. That is so special! Your question tells me that you are someone who values time and wants to make the most of it. It is normal for every person to feel that there have been some moments/minutes/hours during their day they have not used to the fullest. We are not malachim! We are expected to do the best we can. Everything can be used to improve your spirituality and to become closer to Hashem - whether it's the food you eat, with the proper brachos before and after you eat them and with the right thoughts or even when you go online - if you use your time to read and watch things that will bring you closer to Hashem - each thing you do has the ability to raise you up a level of spirituality - but the choice is yours. The same things can be used to your detriment. If you do not elevate your actions, they remain just that - actions devoid of any spirituality. So think about how you spend your time every day and try to see if you can fill your actions with more spirituality. How can you do that? One way is by talking to Hashem (even in your head, it doesn't have to be out loud if you are not comfortable with that yet). Speak to Him throughout the day and tell Him what is on your mind. On your way home from school, while you are studying, after you finished a delicious supper - use the time you have to connect to Hashem and develop a relationship with Him. Every time you talk to Him, you will feel better and more uplifted.
I once had a hard and frustrating day at work (well, not once! More than once lol) and on my way home, I decided to talk it out with Hashem. I told Him how hard my day was and how frustrating it was for me to be stuck overtime on the phone when I had wanted to leave on time. I had not been in the mood and had just wanted to get home already and by the time I left work, I wasn't feeling all that great with the way I had ended off my day. So I told Hashem how I was feeling and while I was talking, I started to think that this was a (small) situation Hashem had put me in and just talking to Him and realizing that this came from Him made me feel better already! Talking to your Father reminds you that every situation you are in comes from Him! This will make you a more spiritually aware person - more aware of the fact that everything that is happening in your life comes from Hashem and this realization will also help you improve your emunah-your trust in Him!
Even if you feel like right now your life revolves around school, tests, and homework, you will be able to feel much better about yourself and the way you spend your time when you use it improve your relationship with Hashem. You have a whole life ahead of you. The time you spend in high school will fly by so fast and then you will be starting a different life. Once school is over, you do not have that constant spoon-feeding of inspiration and weekly parsha lessons. You will have to fill your neshama with spiritual food on your own-by going to shiurim, listening to speeches, learning at night with friends...and eventually, it will be your kids parsha sheets that will remind you what this weeks parsha is! (Imagine that! It's not that far away!!) Appreciate the time you have while you still have it - you are lucky to still be in a school setting where you are taught all you need to know about the parshios, upcoming yomim tovim and everything that is going on in the hebrew calendar! Right now, since I am not in school anymore, I use the time I have on Shabbos to read things that will help me improve spiritually. You are so lucky to be in a place that is conducive to spiritual growth and to have teachers who are helping you learn all you need to know!
Another suggestion is to try to designate a certain amount of time every day/week for something specific that will improve your level of spirituality. You can choose to go to a shiur once a week (If you live in Brooklyn, you can go to Ohr Naava where there are amazing things going on every single night!) or learn something on the phone with a friend or take the time to learn something every night before you go to sleep or every Shabbos. There are so many books out there on many different topics-just choose one that “talks to you” and that you feel will help you improve. If you are looking for suggestions, let me know and I will try to direct you. Making sure you have a specific time in your schedule that is set aside for your spiritual improvement will help you grow and become a better person.
By working on your middos and using the time you have now to grow spiritually, whether it is by going to shiurim or learning something with a friend and by speaking to Hashem throughout your day, you will definitely be coming closer to Him - and that is surely one of the things you should be doing while you are in this world. I cannot tell you specifically what you should be doing and how you should be spending your time, but by using your time wisely, to improve your relationship with Hashem, you will feel much happier and spiritually fulfilled.
I hope this helps!!
If the person who submitted this question can please come back and comment to let me know that she saw the answer, it would really mean a lot to me. Also, please let me know if there is anything else that you still want to know. Thanks!!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
A Kiddush Hashem is also in front of Jews, frum Jews - when someone does something that makes another Jew say, “Wow!! Look at what s/he did! I feel so lucky to be part of such a special nation!! I am so proud that I am a Jew!!”
We all have opportunities and chances to do something that will make someone else feel special about the fact that they are a Jew-when they see what we just did. Just by acting in a way that shows other people that you care, going an extra step to help someone out, any little thing that you do can really make an impression on someone else – and it’s not limited to non-Jews or Jews who are not religious-you can make a Kiddush Hashem. Here’s an example.
Today, I was in a clothing store and knocked something off the rack. I bent down, picked up the sweater, put it back onto the hanger and continued going. I don’t know if anyone saw what I did – and I was only doing it because it is mentchlach. It is the right thing to do. I was not doing it so someone should cheer at me and say, “wow!” and it was no big deal at all but I do know that if I would have just continued walking and left the sweater on the floor and someone would have seen that, they would get a bad taste in their mouth. It doesn’t matter if it was the non-Jewish woman refolding the shirts a few feet away from me. And it doesn’t matter if it would be the frum lady waiting on line to pay for her purchases. The point is that I made sure that I did the right thing – and if anyone would see that, they wouldn’t turn away with disgust (ugh, she just walked by and didn’t stop to pick it up? Where is her manners?!)
It is important to remember that whenever you walk outside, people are watching you. The frum Jews, the non-frum Jews, the non-Jews. Everyone is watching you. When you walk around in a skirt and long sleeves, keep in mind that you are representing our nation. So smile at the cashier and say, “How are you?” or hold the door open for someone who is walking behind you or offer to help someone who is carrying a whole bunch of bags.
There are many examples of things that make other people pass you smile and feel special that they are a Jew.
When I was younger, my mother showed us just a few examples of going the extra step to help other people. Whenever she saw someone walking down the street carrying a bunch of shopping bags, she would run over and help them and she'd even walk further than her destination, just because the other person was carrying bags that were too heavy for them to do alone. Or if she'd see a mother going up the stairs with her carriage, she'd run over and help the person up the stairs. All these things may seem little, but they are really huge because by doing small acts of kindness and helping others, she is giving that person a special feeling of, "Wow! I am so lucky to be part of such a nation who truly cares about other people."
There are loads and loads of examples of things that we can do to make a Kiddush Hashem and show the world what a wonderful nation we are. Anyone have their own examples or stories they want to share?
Friday, March 5, 2010
Shabbos is a day in which you can reach great spiritual heights. If you use the day correctly, you can come so much closer to Hashem.
Shabbos is a reminder to each and every one of us that Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. All week we are busy with so many things-school, work, family and we are distracted by all the things around us - cell phones, computers, music and so once a week Hashem says, I want you to stop with all those distractions and focus on me! Take the time to think about how you can connect to me on a deeper level! Put away your cell phone, turn off your computer and come, let us spend some time together!
On Shabbos, we stop doing all those things we are busy with during the week and use the time we have to get to know Hashem better. It is a day when we sit around the table, learn about the parsha, sing beautiful and uplifting songs, spend family time and connect to Hashem. It is a day we use to strengthen our emunah in Him.
Hashem created the world and continues to watch over each and every one of us. Don't you think He can also solve every one of your problems, no matter how big or small they may seem?
R' Shimshon Pincus zt"l says that the relationship between Hashem and bnei yisroel is like a husband and wife. Shabbos is like the honeymoon. Imagine if a husband and wife both work full time and all week they are too busy to spend time together but once a week they go to a hotel. They walk into their hotel room and all of a sudden the husband's cell phone rings. The wife says, "Put away your cell phone! I want to spend time with you!!" This is shabbos. Hashem says, on this special day, I want to be with YOU so get rid of your distractions so we can spend time together.
Reading things on Shabbos that you should not be reading is like the husband picking up his cell phone when he is in the hotel - about to spend special time with his wife! Hashem says to all of His children, today is a special day! It is our day so let us use our time together to the fullest!! We are on our honeymoon now!!
When Shabbos begins, Hashem gives each of His children a kiss. It says in shir hashirim - yishakeinu mineshikos pihu - I am giving you a kiss. A kiss is something that can only be given to one person at a time. A hug - you can hug a few friends at once (remember in high school, those group hugs?!) but a kiss is something personal. A parent cannot kiss two children at the same time. A kiss represents that special relationship of one-on-one. On Shabbos Hashem tells us - you are my only child and I want to have a personal connection to you - a connection that no one else in the world is part of because I want it to be just me and you!! This is how we enter Shabbos - we start with a kiss from Hashem!! What could be more delicious than that?!
Shabbos is a day where we are in the shechina's embrace! It is a day where you can connect to Hashem on the most special levels. The first thing that you have to do is remember and acknowledge that today is Shabbos. Because if you don't know that Shabbos is here then how could you treat it properly?
Imagine if your parents were coming to visit you for a few days. When they knock on your door, you should greet them with a hug and sit down with them so you could spend time together. So imagine if when they were to walk in, you would tell them to sit down and make themselves comfortable while you finish baking the cake you want to serve them. Your parents would say, "Please, stop baking the cake and come sit down with us! I didn't come here to eat, I came to spend time with you. If you wanted to serve some cake, you should have had it ready for when we walked in the door! Now that we are here already, forget the cake and come sit with us in the living room and tell us how you've been!! We want to spend time with you!!"
This is what Hashem says to us. When Shabbos comes, Hashem is here to "visit" us and spend time with us. We should try to be ready for Him! The two minutes before shabbos should be spent waiting for our special guest - the Shabbos Queen, the Shechina - that's who is coming to our house!
Let's try to think about Who our special guest is and remember that when we have such a special visitor, we should try to prepare and be ready for when that guest arrives!!