Thursday, October 21, 2010

VAYERA 5771

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayera

15 Cheshvan 5771/October 22, 2010

Two years ago we erected our succah on our porch for the first time. Our porch, which is off our kitchen, is very high off the ground. It is also quite open, so that the wind is felt very acutely up there. When we arrived home during Chol Hamoed the s’chach of the succah had blown off, but as there had been a strong storm during Yom Tov I fixed it and wasn’t all that concerned.

That year we had four guests for Shemini Atzeres. The night meal was beautiful and we anticipated the same for the next morning. However, to our chagrin, when we arrived home from shul the s’chach had blown off the succah and was resting comfortably on the roof of the house.

We had no choice but to trek to our closest neighbor (our friends the Duskis family), a five minute walk away, and ‘borrow their succah’. [As this is not a halachic forum, if such a situation ever arises one should ask their Rabbi if, and how, the succah can be fixed.] With three strollers laden with food, including a crock pot full of cholent (it was also Shabbos) we made our way to their succah, where they graciously welcomed us in. They had already finished their meal and allowed us to make ourselves comfortable in their succah.

I remember thinking how strange it felt throughout the meal. It was our food, our family, and our company. My wife served the food and I conducted the meal. However, it was someone else’s table and someone else’s home.

Upon later reflection I realized that the feeling I had is actually the feeling we are supposed to feel every Shabbos. On Shabbos we enter a world of spiritual bliss wherein our entire lives are elevated. More specifically our dining room tables are transformed into G-d’s table, as it were. In that metaphysical sense, on Shabbos we are guests at our own table.

This idea is expressed clearly in the lengthy prayer recited by many after singing ‘Shalom Aleichem’ on Friday night. “And I have come to Your home to plead my supplication before You…” Even though we are still in our own homes, when the sun sets ushering in the sanctity of Shabbos on Friday evening, we have come to His house.

Based on this idea, Rabbi Shimshon Pinkus zt’l explained that even if one is alone for Shabbos he/she should dress in his finest, set the table royally, and eat delicacies on Shabbos, for the honor of G-d. No matter where one is in the world on Shabbos he is in the Home of G-d sitting at His table.

Still, it is a lot easier to be a guest at your own table, in your own home, as opposed to that of your neighbor.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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