Embrace Shabbos Chapter 13: Arrive Early To The Wedding (Strategy #3- Be Ready To Accept Shabbos 10 Minutes Early)

Rabbi David Sutton May 31, 2024

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Many rabbis throughout the generations have suggested bringing in Shabbos 10 minutes earlier than the time by which one is strictly required to begin Shabbos, as this practice renders one worthy of Divine assistance and salvation.

What is the concept underlying this practice? Why shouldn’t a person wait until the time given on the calendar? What is the significance of accepting Shabbos early?

By accepting Shabbos before the time that is strictly required, we demonstrate how much Shabbos means to us and how eager we are to begin. This is not some kind of magical formula, whereby we start Shabbos a few minutes early and thus earn Hashem’s help with all our problems. It is far deeper than that: beginning Shabbos early is meant to shape our entire outlook and perspective on Shabbos, which, in turn, has the effect of enhancing the entire Shabbos experience.

Shabbos is referred to as a kallah, bride. Each week, when Shabbos begins, we — the Jewish people — get married to Shabbos. And thus our preparations for, and anticipation of, Shabbos must resemble the way we prepare and look forward to a wedding. The closer the attachment is to the simchah, the earlier one arrives at the wedding. The bride and groom arrive very early, and the immediate family members likewise show up well before the official starting time. Close friends and relatives make sure to arrive on time, while those guests who do not feel especially close to the bride or groom might show up late. If we truly see ourselves as the “groom” getting married to Shabbos, we will “show up” early, even before the scheduled time. We should look forward to Shabbos with eager anticipation, much as a bride and groom eagerly anticipate their wedding day.

In our Shabbos prayers, we say, “chemdas yamim oso karasa” — Hashem called Shabbos “the most coveted of days.” The Baal HaTurim (Bereishis 2:2) comments that Hashem called Shabbos chemdas yamim in the Torah, in the pasuk that tells of how He completed the process of creation on the seventh day: Vayechal Elokim bayom ha’shevii melachto asher asah — “G-d completed on the seventh day the work that He performed.” The Targum Yerushalmi translates the word vayechal — commonly interpreted as “He completed” — as vechamad, “He desired.” The Shem MiShmuel explains that the root “kallah” means “yearn” or “desire”; the phrase Vayechal Elokim bayom ha’shevii describes Hashem’s great love and affection for Shabbos.

By the same token, the Shem MiShmuel adds, a bride is called kallah, because she is desired by her groom, who yearns and longs for the moment when he will be married to his chosen soulmate. Hashem uses this same word to describe His “desire,” so to speak, for Shabbos. This is how much Hashem cherishes and anticipates Shabbos, as the Tzror HaMor writes, “Hashem desired the seventh day more than all the actions He performed [during the six days of creation].” And this is how much we, too, must cherish and anticipate Shabbos.

Just as a bride and groom make a point of arriving early for their wedding, we, too, should endeavor to arrive early for our “wedding” and begin Shabbos a few minutes before the strictly required time. Needless to say, accepting Shabbos early becomes especially difficult during the winter months, when Shabbos begins early in the afternoon and people need to return home and quickly prepare. But if we view Shabbos as our bride, we will do everything we can to arrive at our “wedding” early, to show our genuine love and affection for this chemdas yamim — the most precious of all the days.


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Reprinted from Embrace Shabbos by Rabbi David Sutton with permission from Artscroll Mesorah.