Hashem sent our souls far away to this world, on a mission to learn Torah and do mitzvos, and He would like to re-connect from time to time. He therefore tells us: “Take a day off on Shabbos and don’t worry about the expenses. Put everything on My bill, and let’s just spend quality time together!” (We saw this clearly in the Midbar, when Hashem gave the Jews an extra portion of “mon” every erev Shabbos so that they wouldn’t have to go out and collect it on Shabbos.)
And how do we spend time with Him? Through learning Torah! When one learns Torah, he is connecting himself to Hashem and Hashem rests His Presence on him. We have mentioned many times that the theme of Shabbos is “a Day with Hashem”– Hashem comes to visit us on Shabbos. What greater way is there to spend time with Hashem than to learn His Torah with Him? When the person spends this day in bed instead of just taking a refreshing nap, he has totally missed the boat of Shabbos! “This is not why I gave you off today!” says Hashem.
Prime Learning Time
But there is an even greater reason why we should learn Torah on Shabbos. The Ben Ish Chai (Parshas Shemos, 2nd year) writes that we are called “builders” because Hashem has given us the ability to build massive spiritual skyscrapers in Heaven through our Torah learning. We must realize that the only way to reach Olam Habah, the World to Come, is through learning Torah (see Kesubos 111b). When we learn, we are building great spiritual worlds in the next world, and the reward that awaits us there for each word of Torah learned is unimaginable!
The Ben Ish Chai continues: One who learns Torah on Shabbos accomplishes 1,000 (!!) times more than when he learns during the week! This is because Shabbos is “M’ein Olam Haba” – a preview of the World to Come, and a person is more connected to spirituality on Shabbos. Thus, his spiritual “building power” is greater. In fact, because of this, many Torah scholars say that they are able to achieve a deeper understanding of Torah on Shabbos. The Torah learned on Shabbos is on a totally different level than Torah learned during the week.
Let us end with a little math: The Gr”a tells us that one word of Torah is equal to 613 mitzvos. When you learn one word on Shabbos you multiply that by 1,000 and therefore you are getting the value of 613,000 mitzvos for each word. The Chofetz Chaim writes that an average person can speak approximately 200 words a minute. That means: one who learns on Shabbos for just one minute will receive reward equal to 122,600,000 mitzvos! In one hour: 7,356,000,000. In two hours 14,712,000,000 … okay, you get the point. It would be quite foolish to pass up such a golden opportunity!
Let us all merit using Shabbos, our “Time with Hashem,” to the maximum!
About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus, raised and educated in Los Angeles and subsequently Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim, is the Rosh Kollel of the Zichron Aron Yaakov Kollel in Kiryat Sefer , Israel. He lectures for the public and is the director of the Chasdei Rivka Free Loan Gemach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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