The Chida (Moreh Be’etzba 4:140) cites the incident related in the Gemara (Gittin 52a) of two men whom the Satan would cause to get into an argument every week on Erev Shabbos. Rabbi Meir arrived in the town and spent three weeks there, bringing peace between these two people. As he was leaving, he heard a voice proclaim, “Woe that Rabbi Meir threw him [referring to the Satan] out of his house!” Through his peacemaking efforts, Rabbi Meir succeeded in overcoming the Satan and driving him away.
The Chida explains that Erev Shabbos is a time when the yetzer hara comes into our homes and tries to create anger and tension:
[Friday afternoon] is a dangerous time for conflict between husband and wife and with the servants, as the Satan increases its efforts to instigate quarreling. The G-d-fearing person will subdue his evil inclination so there will be no disagreement or insistence on having one’s way. To the contrary, one should pursue peace.
The Ben Ish Chai (Parashas Vayeira, Shanah Sheniyah, 1) cites the Chida’s comments and develops this concept further. He notes that people are instinctively inclined to attribute the mishaps that occur and problems that arise on Erev Shabbos to the normal hustle and bustle of Shabbos preparation. In truth, however, these things happen because of the Satan. It is not a natural outcome of preparing for Shabbos, but a concentrated effort of the Satan. And therefore, when a housekeeper, child or spouse makes a mistake on Friday, one should say, “What can I expect from him/her? Is it possible to fight the Satan?” We all know how things so often go wrong on Erev Shabbos afternoon. When this happens, one should just ignore the mishap and realize that this is an opportunity to overcome a challenge posed by the Satan.
Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon develops this concept in a slightly different direction. He raises the question of why Hashem sends the Satan to try to cause tension in the home on Erev Shabbos. What is the purpose of this mission? Rabbi Salomon explains that Hashem sends us these tests because by overcoming them we elevate ourselves to higher spiritual levels, and bring ourselves to the appropriate state of mind for accepting Shabbos.
It is the pressure of Erev Shabbos that enables us to reach the level we need to achieve before we begin this sacred day. And thus the period before the onset of Shabbos is setting us up to overcome anger and to confront challenging situations without becoming upset. This is an opportunity for us to lift ourselves to a higher level and grow.
And so the next time something happens on Friday afternoon that could cause tension and anger, let us stop and realize that this an opportunity for greatness, for significant spiritual growth.
One Lag Ba’omer, after immersing in the Arizal’s mikveh in Safed, several men visited Rabbi Yaakov Ades, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah Kol Yaakov. They obviously felt very pure and holy after their experiences that day in Meron and Safed.
Rabbi Ades, who is a very practical-minded individual, commented that a person can achieve the same spiritual benefits offered by immersion in the Arizal’s mikveh each and every time he walks into his home. Before one enters, he should stop and remind himself that there might be some tension in the home due to children’s misbehavior or other issues that need to be dealt with. And he must make a point of telling himself that he will remain calm and composed, not lose his temper, and speak and conduct himself with proper, refined middos regardless of the challenges that he is about to confront once he enters, realizing that these challenges are an opportunity to achieve greatness.
Erev Shabbos, especially, is an opportunity for us to grow and reach greater levels of spirituality. Let us go into Shabbos with this attitude and calmness and serenity, and refrain from anger and frustration so that joy and tranquility will fill our homes on this special day.
Reproduced from Living Shabbos by Rabbi David Sutton
ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications Ltd. Reprinted with permission.