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Vayak'hel-Pekudei- How to make worries disappear

Friday, 9 March, 2018 - 10:47 am

It was widely known among the beggars of Minsk, that if you got invited for Shabbat dinner to the home of Moshe the wealthy merchant, it was a bittersweet experience. The food was terrific and in abundance, but you could barely enjoy it, as Moshe would engage you with chit chat and questions, by the time you got a few mouthfuls, the meal was over.

Yankel, though, was the first to change the status-quo.

When Yankel sat down for dinner at the lavish table, Moshe turned to the new guest: “So, where are you from?” “From Pinsk,” answered Yankel. “And how is the community leader, Berl?” “Deceased”, Yankel answered briefly and began to eat. It took the wealthy merchant a few minutes to digest the difficult news, and in the meantime, Yankel finished his fish. “So, how is the city’s Rabbi?” Moshe continued to probe. “Deceased” Yankel answered, and slowly ate his soup.

After getting over his shock, Moshe continued: “And how about the city’s top doctor?” “Also deceased” came the answer. “What’s going on?! Was there an epidemic in the city?” the host asked with a panic. “Not at all,” Yankel replied, as he finished the main course quite satisfied, “it’s just that when I sit down to eat, nothing else matters, I consider everyone and everything deceased.”

This is the secret of the Shabbat candles. No, they do not kill anyone, but they do raise you up to a new sphere, and for those moments nothing else matters. It’s as if all your work is ‘deceased’. The nagging tasks and to-do’s along with the worries come to a screeching stop and in their place comes a quiet peace. Shabbat is not merely a day we don’t technically do work, but a time when our minds are not bothered by it either.

This power of this inner peace is communicated in a few brief words in this week’s Torah portion (Vayakhel-Pekudei): "Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day will be Shabbat." Resting on Shabbat properly, fills us with enough inner peace and tranquility, that it will trickle into the next six days.  Work “will be done”, in a passive sense, more calmly and happily.

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