VIP Shabbet

Friday, 23 January, 2015 - 5:15 am

This week I participated in a prestigious Bat Mitzvah party in London.

The event was very special – very fancy and very well planned. The guests felt truly honored and were given VIP treatment.

When the speeches began, I noticed that the life of the Bat Mitzvah’s family centers around one day of the week: Shabbat.

The father spoke about the Shabbat prayers. The sister mentioned the long summer Shabbat days when they take walks together. The friends commented “It’s a pity that you never come to visit us on Friday night – you’re always with your family.” And the mother – she spoke about the special Shabbat food, the candles, and the Zemirot that are sung. She added on explanations about the concept of Time and our ability to use it correctly.

I sat there, watching and listening with growing excitement. I have no doubt that the Shabbat of this family is also conducted as a prestigious, well-planned and honor-filled event, at least as much as the Bat Mitzvah party. They welcome Shabbat the way one welcomes an important guest, no less than when they greet guests who have come from far away to celebrate with them.

My friends, Time gets special attention in this week’s Parasha. The first mitzvah that Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish People) received as a nation was the mitzvah to consecrate the month. The Torah commands us to determine the first day of a month according to the New Moon. And this is how it works: The Jewish court listens to the testimonies of witnesses who have seen the New Moon that has just appeared, and, based on that, declares a specific day to be Rosh Chodesh – the first day of the month.

The Rebbe explains that the reason that the mitzvah of Kiddush Hachodesh (consecrating the first of the month) was chosen to be the first mitzvah is because it has something unique about it.

But first, an introduction: the goal and essence of the mitzvahs that were given us is that through them we should sanctify the world in which we live. How? By using material objects for good things, for Chessed (acts of loving-kindness), for mitzvahs and for Torah, we invest that material object with holiness. The best example for this is money. On one hand, money is the most material thing in the world – people waste their time running after it. But, on the other hand, a coin can become the holiest and most sublime thing. Because when a person gives a coin to Tzedakah (charity), in that moment he has changed the coin: it is no longer a base, material object, but rather a holy and refined mitzvah.

Most of the mitzvahs deal with influencing everything that exists in Space – objects, people and places. There is one mitzvah whose goal is to influence Time as well, and that is the mitzvah of Kiddush Hachodesh.

By the Jewish court declaring that a certain day is the first of the Jewish month, the 24 hours of an ordinary day become 24 holy hours. The dates of the holidays are calculated according to this declaration: will Pesach fall on Wednesday or on Thursday? And once it has been determined, then that chosen day becomes holy and special; no Chametz can be eaten on it, and no work may be done etc.

What did I learn from the Bat Mitzvah? That when there is a time that was set to be holy and sublime, we must do everything possible within the realm of Space – nice clothes; tasty, special food; a clean house – in order to sanctify Time – the 25 hours of the seventh day of the week.


Wishing everyone Shabbat Shalom,


Zalmen Wishedski

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