This is the point of kavod Shabbos. In Heaven, the difference between Shabbos and the rest of the week is obvious. But in this world, we do not see how Shabbos is different from a regular weekday. By honoring Shabbos, we make it “heavy” and show that it is unique. With this, Rav Elchonon Meir Fishman (Mashgiach of Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim) explains why Shabbos is called the Shabbos Queen and not the King. In most cases the queen of the country does not have any power of her own; the power belongs to the king. Nevertheless, we must honor the queen as we do the king. Thus, the queen represents the glory and honor of her husband’s kingdom. In truth, Hashem is King all week long, but it is not seen clearly. On Shabbos, when we are not involved in our mundane pursuits, His Glory is revealed in a more obvious manner. We therefore refer to Shabbos as the queen rather than the king, because it is the glory of His Kingdom which becomes clearer on Shabbos. But certainly, it is Hashem, the King, who we are honoring.
Thus, we now understand why preparing for Shabbos, and specifically our own participation, is the greatest way of honoring Shabbos. All the efforts we expend to make even the messiest house take on a new sparkling look show that this day is “more honorable than all other days” (zemiros Shabbos).
‘Lekovod Shabbos Kodesh’
The Mishnah Berurah cites in the name of the seforim that we should say “Lekovod Shabbos Kodesh – I am doing this in honor of the Holy Shabbos” – before we buy something for Shabbos or do other Shabbos preparations. According to our explanation, this statement takes on a new light. What we are really saying is: I am doing this to show that a special guest is coming. By saying these three words, we have just turned an action that was just a “means” into an “end” in itself. So, as you slave over the hot stove or pick up the Legos your three-year-old has managed to scatter into every corner of the living room, think “what a privilege to prepare for our special guest!”
We mentioned in the past that Hashem told Moshe that He wants to give us the great present of Shabbos. Usually, if someone offers you a present and you don’t show interest in it, he will look for a different recipient. We don’t want that to happen with this spectacular present! Thus, by preparing for Shabbos with joy, we show that we desire this great present and we will therefore merit receiving it, with all of its blessings. With this outlook, preparing for Shabbos will be an experience you won’t want to miss!