Ana Melech (MBD feat. YBC)

August 7, 2020

I had originally written a thought that focused on this week’s haftorah (with some great song choices within!) but in the end, I shifted gears to an idea that reflects my impressions as I prepare for the siyum on Maseches Shabbos. For those of you who are following along, this Monday marks the completion of the second Masechta in Shas, in which we have learned the ins and outs of many halachos pertaining to the maintaining of the sanctity of the holy Shabbos day.

One of the main takeaways of the masechta has been, at least for me, the strong emphasis placed on the preparation for Shabbos. As we know, Shabbos was initially introduced to us in the desert when we were told to prepare for the coming day by collecting a double portion of Mann. It was this simple act of preparation that gave us insight into what the secret of Shabbos is really all about. Mi shetarach b’erev Shabbos, yochal b’Shabbos.

My challenge has always been to finish up at work in order to be a help to my wife before Shabbos. It’s something that I have struggled with my entire career. There is always one more emergency to address, one more fire to put out, one more email to respond to……No matter what, Friday always has a way of messing up my erev Shabbos, if that makes any sense to you. But as I’ve learned over the years, one cannot just “have” a Shabbos – one must make Shabbos, as you may know from our own relationship with our weekly Heavenly guest. And as Rav Soloveitchik zt’l observed so many years ago, we may have become a people who observe Shabbos, but we are no longer ‘erev-Shabbos observant’.

How much of life is spent in preparation and anticipation? The feeling of nachas at a Bar Mitzvah and the joy of a wedding day become enhanced by the months of preparation which precede them. We extend a vacation by thinking about it, we elevate a simcha by planning for it, and we enhance our Shabbos experience by preparing for it. The most mediocre chores become meaningful pursuits when done L’kavod Shabbos. Cleaning and shopping are no longer relegated to the realm of mundane, but become significant responsibilities to be carried out at the behest of a higher authority.

The gemara relates that Rav Safra would cut the head of a fish, Rav would be involved in the salting of the meat. Rav Chisda would dice vegetables, Rabbah and Rav Yosef would chop wood, Rabbi Zeira would light the fire, and Rav Nachman would arrange the house, bring in the utensils needed for Shabbos, and put away the weekday utensils. The Talmudic giants saw it as their opportunity to properly honor Shabbos by preparing for it – tasks they would never relinquish to be done by someone else.

So now, as we near the end of the masechta, I wish to commit to be more conscious in the way that I prepare for Shabbos. And while this is a wonderful commitment and all, how in the world will I implement this lofty pledge?

There is a story of a young, newly married man who came to complain to Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein zt’l. He said that as much as he admonished his wife, she was never ready on time to light the Shabbos candles, and he asked for advice on how to remedy the problem. Reb Chatzkel bluntly responded, “You pick up a broom.“

With the help of the still fledgling Yeshiva Boys Choir, MBD did what he does best. From his 2006 album Efshar Letaken, Mordechai Ben David made this Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz composition into an instant classic. From its catchy tune to its toe-tapping rhythm, Ana Melech was a winner as soon as it came out. So go ready the candles, make your beds, and change into your finest Shabbos clothing – Shabbos is about to arrive! But we can only fully appreciate its serenity and beauty if we prepare our minds, bodies and souls to receive its blessings. So if you’ll excuse me, I have some preparing to do.

Wishing everyone an exceptional Shabbos!

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