Parshas Pinchas contains a listing of the offerings that are brought during each holiday, including the daily Tamid offering and the offerings of Shabbos. Compared to the rest of the holidays, the Shabbos offerings are quite paltry. And on the Shabbos day: Two male lambs in the first year… The elevation offering of each Shabbos on its Shabbos…” (Bamidbar 28:9).
The lexicon used regarding Shabbos is unique. In regard to no other holiday does it use an expression of bringing the offering 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?
Rabbi 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 Rabbi 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…” (Medrash Tehillim (92); quoted by Rabbeinu Bechaye, Parshas Pinchos)
Why is everything connected with Shabbos doubled?
When Yeshaya HaNavi speaks of comforting the beleaguered and aggrieved Jewish nation following their exile he exclaims (Yeshaya 40:1), “Comfort, comfort My people, says G-d!” The Medrash comments, “They were stricken doubly, and they were comforted doubly.” Why was the Jewish nation punished doubly, and subsequently required to be comforted doubly?
Rav Yitzchak Kirzner zt”l explained that mortal man is composed of two diverse components – chomer (physical, tangible corporeal body) and tzurah (intangible life-force, spiritual, personality).
The ultimate goal of man is to raise himself to such a level wherein his chomer is subservient to his tzurah, in that his entire being (including his physical self) is subject completely to the Will of G-d. Such a person’s behavior is dictated by his logic, and he does not allow himself to be blindly drawn after his emotions and desires.
At the time of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, G-d wrought retribution against Klal Yisroel, not only because the nation abused its essence on a physical level and defiled its chomer, but also because as a result of their iniquities their tzurah became sullied and spiritually debased. Not only did they use their physical bodies to sin, they contemplated ways to sin, using their cognitive abilities to think of ways to sin. Thus, the nation sinned on a dual level, and their double punishment reflected that duality. The ultimate consolation must therefore be doubled, in order to console us on a physical and spiritual level – to console both body and spirit.
With this idea in mind perhaps we can understand why every aspect of Shabbos is doubled. The holiness of Shabbos does not only envelope our tzurah, our spirit and souls, it also affords us the opportunity to elevate and sanctify our chomer – the physicality within ourselves and the world. On Shabbos, we laud G-d for the gift of being able to “Eat rich foods, drink sweet drinks, for G-d will give to all who cling to Him, clothes to wear and bread of allotment, meat and fish and all delicacies.”
The Gemara (Beitzah 16a ) relates that on Shabbos we are granted a supplementary soul. Rashi offers a most intriguing explanation of its effects. He explains that the special soul grants us “a broadened heart for rest and joy, and to be open wide to be able to eat and drink without his soul becoming repulsed by it.” Normally when one partakes of a particularly filling and fatty meal he feels somewhat animalistic. But on Shabbos one can indulge more than usual and not worry about that animalistic feeling, because his added soul compensates by injecting him with an added dose of spirituality.
With this idea in mind we can also understand why in our Shabbos prayers there is much mention of the ultimate redemption and our eventual return to rebuilt Jerusalem and the rebuilt Bais HaMikdash. Our descent into exile was inextricably bound to our defilement of our chomer and tzura, both are bodies and our souls. The double consolation, which must include both body and spirit, is reflected and symbolized by Shabbos, the day of physical and spiritual bliss.
Shabbos is a window into the euphoric Messianic world when this world will be completely devoted to G-d, on all levels. When we observe Shabbos, we raise ourselves beyond the trivialities and sufferings of exile and focus on a world devoid of physical pain and spiritual sin. It is for that reason that the laws of the Three Weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash are suspended on Shabbos. We sing songs joyously during those Shabbasos, and even if Tisha B’av itself coincides on Shabbos we eat meat and drink wine during that Shabbos.
The exile represents the tragedy of the wandering collective Jewish body and soul, and on Shabbos wherever a Jew is he is at home in the palace of the King.
The Karliner prayed that he not only merit experiencing the physical delights of Shabbos, but also the spiritual bliss of Shabbos. At times, one can observe all the laws of Shabbos properly yet not feel the idyllic sense of elevation that Shabbos provides. One must pray that he merits that greatness, as we state in the Mussaf prayers of Shabbos, “Those who taste it merit life, and those who love its precepts have chosen greatness.”