The Great Blessing And Merit Of Shabbos

Rabbi David Sutton March 21, 2024

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Whenever we involve ourselves in some project or undertaking, it’s a good idea to properly appreciate the value of what we’re doing, in order to sustain our zeal and motivation to accomplish and achieve at the highest standard. This is true of Shabbos, as well. The more we understand and appreciate the immense value of Shabbos, the more driven we will be to enhance our Shabbos observance and bring it to a higher level.

At the Agudah Convention a few years ago, a special guest named Avraham was brought in from Eretz Yisrael to share his story. Avraham was born in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan, in 1945, to a Holocaust refugee from Poland and a native of Odessa. The family emigrated to Eretz Yisrael in 1948. Avraham served in the army and then chose farming as his profession. Though he observed Shabbos and kashrus, Avraham was not committed to other areas of Torah — until an experience he had one Shabbos, which had a profound impact upon his life.

He and his fellow farmers had placed their onions out to dry before Shabbos so they would be ready to be taken to the market and sold after Shabbos. Suddenly, after Shabbos began, as though out of nowhere, a cloudburst erupted, and rain began to pour from the sky. Avraham’s neighbors scrambled to cover their onions, in violation of Shabbos, but Avraham remained committed to Shabbos observance and decided to leave his onions exposed.

On Sunday morning, Avraham went out to the fields and saw his neighbors crying. The weather had become oppressively hot — topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit — and all the onions that were covered by plastic had become rotten due to the moisture trapped beneath the coverings. Avraham’s onions, however, had completely dried and remained fresh. After seeing this, he and his wife decided to move forward and commit themselves to all the mitzvos, including the mitzvah of Shemittah.

Even when it appears as though we are sacrificing to observe Shabbos, the truth is that we are gaining and deriving immense benefit.

In 2006, the community of Lakewood, N.J. was graced by a visit by Rav Aharon Leib Steinman. This was a difficult time in Lakewood, when the community was struck by an unusually large number of tragedies. When Rav Steinman visited, the people of Lakewood asked what they could do to earn merit to improve the situation. Rav Steinman answered that Shabbos is the source of all blessing in the world, and so by accepting Shabbos a half hour early, they will earn blessing. That Shabbos, the entire community of Lakewood accepted Shabbos a half hour early. After the first hour of Shabbos, the local Hatzolah dispatcher noticed that he had not received any phone calls and feared that there might be a problem with the communications system. Normally, within the first hour of Shabbos, Hatzolah would receive several calls of medical emergencies, but on that Shabbos, everything was silent. He checked the network and found that everything was in perfect working order.

The silence continued throughout the night, and even throughout the next day. Hatzolah did not receive a single call that entire Shabbos. After Shabbos, Rav Malkiel Kotler excitedly phoned Rav Steinman and shared with him the news. On a typical Shabbos, he said, Hatzolah receives some 40 calls, but on that Shabbos, it did not receive any.

This remarkable story should reinforce our appreciation for the great privilege that we have to observe Shabbos, and for the great blessings that we earn through this mitzvah. If we are looking to add to our blessings, the best thing we can do is to enhance Shabbos, by beginning it a bit early, by spending it the right way, and by making it the spiritual and serene experience that it is meant to be.

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

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