A friend recently related the following personal story:
“A few months ago I was invited to a wedding of close friends. Though the bride and groom were from New York they were celebrating their wedding in a resort village in Mexico, south of Cancun. I, and other guests who were Shomer Shabbos arranged all the food.
“The Chabad shaliach in Cancun told me that as long as food is processed (baked, cooked, etc.) and I do not have raw vegetables or fruits, border patrol should not give us any problems.
“I was carrying most of the baked goods, including challah, kugel, and chicken. When I arrived at Customs and was given the declaration form to fill out, I noticed that the very first question was about possession of food. I asked the agent if that included processed foods. He replied that I should show him what I had. I opened up my bag and pulled out a challah. He looked at it and said, ‘You have three choices: You can eat it, throw it out, or give it to me.’ I looked at him in disbelief, ‘Are you serious? But I thought…’ He coldly repeated his words.
“I was very upset but told him I wanted to finish filling out the rest of the form. He pointed towards a table off to the side. I sat down, and began to pray inaudibly that G-d please help us keep Shabbos properly.
“When I finished filling out the form, I walked back to the agent. He asked me for my passport and as he flipped through it began conversing with another agent in Spanish. I could not understand what they were saying but he kept pointing and mentioning Israel (I have been to Israel quite a few times recently).
“In my mind I thought he would never let me take the food. But then he looked up and said, ‘You’ve been to Israel?’ I nodded. ‘Are you Moslem?’ ‘No!’ ‘Are you Christian?’ ‘No, I’m Jewish!’ ‘You’re Jewish? Do you have one of those’… he pointed to his head in a circular motion. ‘Sure,’ I replied, removing my hat and showing him my kippah. He looked at me and said, ‘You know around here everyone believes in G-d.’ I replied excitedly, ‘I believe in G-d!’ He smiled warmly and said, ‘That’s sababah ’ ‘Does this mean we’re okay?’ I asked nervously. By now his demeanor had completely changed, ‘Oh we’re totally okay.’ He then gave me a high five and waved me through. I grabbed my bag and hurried on.
“The Custom’s agent drastic change of attitude was truly incredible. Never underestimate the power of prayers and the merit of Shabbos!”
Parshas Pinchas contains a listing of the korbanos that are brought throughout the year – during each chag, the daily Tamid and the ones for Shabbos. Compared to the rest of the chagim, the Shabbos korbanos are quite paltry. “And on the Shabbos day: Two male lambs in the first year… The elevation offering of each Shabbos on its Shabbos… ”
The lexicon used regarding Shabbos is unique. In regards to no other chag does it use an expression of bringing the korban on its own day. For example, it does not say, “the Pesach offering on its Pesach”, or “the Sukkos offering on its Sukkos.” Why is this unique expression used regarding Shabbos ?
Rav Chatzkel Abramsky zt’l offered the following homiletical explanation: The offerings of Shabbos are smaller than other holidays, to symbolize that the most important component of the offering of Shabbos is, “on its Shabbos”, i.e. to observe Shabbos properly, by safeguarding its laws, seeking to understand its greatness, and observing the spirit of the day to the best of one’s ability.
This thought is in tandem with the famous quote from Rav Shlomo Karliner zt’l : “Master of the World, You gave me fish for Shabbos; You gave me meat for Shabbos; Please give me Shabbos for Shabbos!”
What is the meaning of the Karliner’s prayer?
“Rabbi Yitzchak said: All of the issues of Shabbos are doubled…. Its offering was doubled (as it says), “On the day of Shabbos two lambs; its punishment is doubled… its reward is doubled…its warning is doubled…its song is doubled… ”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit him on the web at www.stamtorah.info.
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