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Achrei Mos/Kedoshim: ‘Going To The In-Laws’

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Rav Pincus explains with a parable: Imagine if you are invited to the home of a great and holy individual such as the Chasam Sofer. The Chasam Sofer loves you dearly and is extremely excited to see you. As you walk into his home his face lights up and you can tell from his countenance that he has been waiting for your arrival. He immediately invites you into his dining room and insists on serving you lunch.

He walks into his kitchen and announces to his wife, “Did you hear? He has finally arrived. Please prepare a delicious banquet consisting of all of your fanciest dishes in his honor.”

When the meal is ready the Chasam Sofer personally sets it down in front of you, and invites you to enjoy.

At that moment, would anyone be foolish enough to reply, “I’m sorry Rebbe, but I am working on myself spiritually and I have been employing self-flagellation to train myself to stay away from earthly pleasures. I appreciate all of the Rav’s efforts but all I want is some crusty bread and a half cup of water.” Certainly not! Although it is unquestionably valuable for a person to train himself not to indulge too much in physical pleasures, in the home of a distinguished person one adheres to his instruction. If he invites me to enjoy what he has provided, I cannot have the audacity to refuse, all my noble intentions notwithstanding.

Rav Pincus explains that on Yom Kippur we are involved with ourselves, i.e. our sins and our atonement. But on Shabbos we are “not in the picture!” Wherever we are in the world – even at our own tables – on Shabbos we are literally guests sitting at the table of G-d. G-d is our host and He instructs us to indulge and enjoy, and therefore we must oblige. When one’s enjoyment is divinely commanded, every bit of that enjoyment infuses him with holiness.

Every groom knows that the first time he spends a Shabbos at the home of his future in-laws he must make a good impression. He wants his future in-laws to believe that he can and will provide properly for their daughter. If he can do so he knows his in-laws will do their best to help him as well.

With the combined ideas of the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Pincus we can say that on Shabbos we go to the in-laws. Once there, nothing gives the “father-in-law” more pleasure and enjoyment than to see his son-in-law groom doting over his daughter.

One important way in which the groom exhibits his love and devotion to his bride is by demonstrating his desire to be with her as much as possible. In regard to Shabbos we express that love by preparing for and anticipating her arrival by entering into the holy day respectfully with serenity.

In one of the beautiful Shabbos zemiros we sing, “כי אשמרה שבת קל ישמרני – When I guard the Shabbos, G-d will guard me.” It has often been said that in exile “Shabbos has done more to preserve the Jew than the Jew has done to persevere the Shabbos.” Rav Pincus explains that “Shabbos” is a pseudonym for the Divine Presence.

The holiness of Shabbos is an ethereal extension of the holiness of G-d, as it were, much as a daughter is an extension of her parents. The Torah reminds us that if we take care of the daughter, her Father will take good care of us.

About the Author: Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as Guidance Counselor and fifth grade Rebbe in ASHAR, and Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor. He can be reached at stamtorah@gmail.com. Visit him on the web at www.stamtorah.info.


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