The great elevation of Shabbat
HOW TO ACQUIRE THE PLEASANT SHABBAT SCENT OF THE WORLD TO COME
Shabbat is an incredibly holy time, in fact, the holiest day of the Jewish Year. Yet, as the old saying goes “familiarity breeds contempt”. Now, while people in general don’t particularly dislike Shabbat, they simply don’t make the most out of it. And that’s because they don’t know the great elevation of Shabbat.
We’ll explain it in this article a few deep ideas on the quality of Shabbat and some of its customs.
First off, there’s a Kabbalistic custom from the Ari z’l to take two bundles of myrtles (Haddasim), hold them together and say Zachor Ushamor Bedibur Echad Neemar, before doing Kiddush. Then, one says the Beracha of Atzei Besamim and smell them.
Once, I was hosted by someone during Sukkot. This friend of mine kept his haddasim through the whole year and I find it a very beautiful custom. It’s important nonetheless to have myrtles which are not too dry or too old so you can say the bracha on the scent permissibly.
So, this is the order: first you say the bracha “Boreh Atzei Besamim”, then you go round the table a second time towards the right side. In the end, we have two circles around the table; one time with the haddasim and a second time without the haddasim.
The reason we’re going around the table is because that symbolizes the surrounding light (Ohr Makif) we are receiving from a higher plane, specifically ChaBa”D (Chokhmah, Bina and Da’at) of Netzach, Hod, Yesod of Bina on Shabbat. Just as we are surrounding the table so is God surrounding us.
And obviously, we want we want to bring this protective Light around us. This is all part of the revelation of Kabbalah as taught by the holy Ari z’l.
If you have our siddur in front of you, it’s in page 399.
Then, afterwards we sing Shalom Aleichem and Eshet Chayil, and proceed to make the Kiddush and the blessing on the Challah.
ELEVATING OURSELVES THROUGH THE MYSTICAL SONGS OF SHABBAT
Right after Eshet Chayil, we say Ki Malachav Yetzaveh Lach. Meditate on two names you have in your Siddur. These are names of two Angels that are guarding us in this very special night.
When we say that and we meditate on those names, this gives extra strength of guarding because we are filling our minds with them.
Then in the next pages we have the song Eshet Chayil which is the custom that all of Am Yisroel acquired. At the end of each meal on Shabbat we have the song of the Ari z’l. If you look on page 402 you will see that for the night this is Azamer Beshevachin which speaks about the elevating quality of the night of Shabbat. This holy song is filled with deep and hidden meanings, we’d in fact need a whole book just to explain it.
We know that the Ari z’l himself didn’t write so much. Most of the writings of what we have from him is from his student Rabbi Chaim Vital. Nevertheless, one of the few writings that the Ari z’l wrote himself is the three songs of Shabbat .
The Great Revelation of Kabbalah
CAPITALIZING ON THE INFORMATION AGE TO EXPAND YOUR SPIRITUAL DATABASE
It’s important to understand the workings of Creation in order to better appreciate it. The more you know, the more you appreciate it. Imagine you are in the cinema and the most amazing, expected and famous movie is about to be shown.
But you are blindfolded!
Certainly you won’t be able to enjoy the movie, unless you remove your eye cover. This is in fact due to information overload we have nowadays.
The difference between the generation we’re living in and generations before is how accessible information is. This goes for everything, not only Torah. Nevertheless, we are focusing on the information of the world today, where everyone can learn in whatever language he wants.
Anyone with a computer can find all sorts of lectures and classes (which is great!). Also, all books are pretty much published, and everything is translated. Everything is explained and everything is available. Talk about a blessing and a privilege!
However, this comes with a price.
The physical has all information open and you can access everything. However this means you also clutter your brain with a lot of unwanted things. And we know that the physical dimension is an expression of the spiritual realm. If the physical is so open and all the information is available, so the same idea the same principle will also be for the spiritual realm. And, not everything in the spiritual world is good, there’s in fact a lot of bad mixed in the lower realms.
In a spiritual sense when people say “I’m not capable to learn Kabbalah” usually I tell them that “you just need more time”. Still, I know that it’s all excuses we all entertain.
This is the first time in the history of creation that Kabbalah is not something individually or privately owned but something global. It is a certain process that is within the world because this generation really needs that spiritually.
Therefore, it’s not about whether you’re ready or not ready or whether you’re in that level or you’re not in that level. It’s something that everybody can learn even if you are a teen or a child.
Today we have children that are asking questions that in the past, the big elders of the generation wouldn’t dare to ask. Why? Because there’s a thirst for it.
The purpose of all of that is to lead us to connect to Hashem in a much deeper way. And that’s something our generation desperately needs.
It’s not enough to have a superficial kind of a connection that is strictly social.
“I’m living in that location and I’m associating with those people. Since everybody is going to Shul. I’ll go also to Shul,” some people say.
This system doesn’t work anymore!
If people don’t feel that there’s something moving in their heart, they lose interest because the sitra achra has also gotten a lot stronger and much more attractive. And we need to be careful.
Most people are happy just by satisfying their desires or just doing the will of their parents. Neither making the parents or grandparents happy.
They want to live for something higher, like Shabbat!
The vast majority of the people that do something in life that will be getting connected to the Torah is not because of other people telling them to do so. It’s because they are looking for something real and deep.
We see tremendous amount of secrets are being brought out. In our Siddur we try to to give a little bit of that taste. It’s up to you to discover it by yourself. And I know you are up for the journey.
We must understand the depths of the roots of the Shabbat songs with our hearts more than with just the words.
Every time you say these songs you can think about the meaning of the words and of course understanding them will be of great benefit.
But this is only the beginning, because like we said, the Arizal didn’t write many things himself.
And that means that the highest things cannot be put into words.