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DID YOU KNOW?

by the Editors    

And G-d blessed the seventh day" (Genesis 2:3).

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And G-d blessed the seventh day" (Genesis 2:3).

We are forbidden to work on Shabbat, yet it is interesting to note that this is the one day of the week for which we end up spending the most money. Festive meals, multiple guests, and distinguished clothes obviously do not come cheap. One could come to the conclusion that observing Shabbat properly might lead to poverty. However, the Talmud (Tractate Beitzah 26a) points out that just the opposite is true. The more one spends for the sake of Shabbat, the more money he will earn during the week, as Hashem will reimburse him to cover his expenses. This is one of the special blessings bestowed upon the holy day of Shabbat.

However it must be noted that there is one critical requirement that must be met, as the Dubno Maggid, the famous 18th century Eastern European rabbi, masterfully explains in one of his classic parables: There was a very wealthy man who had two sons living in a distant province, one wealthy and the other poor. With their sister’s wedding speedily approaching, the father sent an invitation to the wealthy son. "You and your family are invited to the wedding, and I will gladly reimburse you for all the expenses you may incur to honor me. Please be sure to pass the word on to your brother."

Thrilled at the fantastic opportunity, the wealthy son frantically began making the necessary preparations, sparing no expense as he selected the most exquisite clothes for himself, his wife, and children. He even hired a gleaming carriage to transport them to the wedding. However in all the excitement, he forgot to inform his poor brother about the invitation. As an afterthought on the way to the celebration, he picked up his barefooted and shabbily dressed brother from his humble abode.

The happy father beamed with pride when he saw the splendid carriage drive up with his wealthy son and family dressed in their beautiful apparel. But the father’s joy turned to shock and acute embarrassment when he noticed that his second son was dressed in tattered garments. After the wedding, the wealthy son approached his father with an itemized bill of all his expenses, asking that he be reimbursed as soon as possible. "You don’t seem to remember what it was that I promised you," the father replied. "The deal was that I’d reimburse you for the expenses that you incurred for my honor. You haven’t honored me. In fact, you’ve brought me the greatest shame by not taking care of your brother as I asked you. It was your own honor for which you were concerned, not for mine, and there is no reason why I should pay for your foolish extravagances."

The same is true, says the Dubno Maggid, with regard to our being reimbursed for our Shabbat expenses. If we are concerned only for our honor, pleasure, and physical fulfillment, Hashem never agreed to cover our expenditures. Only if we dedicate our Shabbat observance to Hashem’s honor and include others less fortunate in our celebration will we receive the special blessings afforded this special day.

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The Editors write from Atlanta

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