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Traveling by airplane is an amazing experience. It never ceases to amaze me how things that are so tall and imposing when we are on the ground, including cars, trucks, houses and buildings, suddenly appear minuscule and even infinitesimal from an altitude of 16,000 feet (international flights fly over 20,000 feet).

What’s even more incredible is how quickly it occurs. After the plane races down the runway it’s suddenly airborne. Within seconds it ascends hundreds of feet as the ground below literally shrinks from view. The traffic that you may have encountered on the way to the airport, which left you harried and over-anxious now looks trivial. The skyscrapers that looked so imposing and breathtaking yesterday now look like they barely extend over the city-line. The massive mountains you see in the distance as you drive to work each day now appear like small protrusions above the panorama.


The flying experience is a great analogy for our experience every Shabbos. Throughout the week we feel overwhelmed and intimidated by deadlines and other pressures. Bills must be paid and responsibilities fulfilled. We feel harried and anxious by the many things we are responsible for.

On Friday afternoon in the last moments before Shabbos we are invariably caught up in a harried tizzy as we rush to ensure that everything is taken care of before the holy day begins. We feel like we are racing down the runway picking up speed, as the plane pulsates from the acceleration.

And then suddenly the shaking ceases and we are airborne. The woman’s hand strikes the match that will illuminate the lights of Shabbos and the chazan’s voice melodiously resonates with the ancient words of Tehillim which introduce the holy day: “Let us go exult to Hashem; sing to the rock of our salvation”. In seconds we have ascended way above the earth and peer at the world below us with a bird’s eye view. What was so imposing and daunting a few minutes ago is now laughably minuscule.

On Shabbos we view the world from a different perspective. We become partners with the creator and see the whole world for what it truly is – a conduit for holiness and serving the Divine. All of the things which provoke so much anxiety and energy throughout the week now appear inconsequential and trivial in comparison with what really matters in life.

Every morning, as we begin the blessings prior to kerias shema, we state the profound declaration: “How numerous are your actions Hashem, all of them were made with wisdom.” Yet strangely enough, according to nusach Ashkenaz, on Shabbos morning that sentence is omitted.

Rav Yitzchok Hutne,r zt”l (Pachad Yitzchok, Shabbos, 6) notes that during the week we are engaged in all things worldly. We are involved in the furtherance of society and humanity through our efforts to develop the world. Therefore, during the week we need to remind ourselves that the numerous components of creation are all the wisdom of G-d.
On Shabbos however, we do not see the disparate components of the world. We do not focus on the quantitative components of the world. On Shabbos we view the world as one entity of divine energy and opportunity. Shabbos is a day of qualitative focus. Therefore, on Shabbos we do not speak of the numerousness of creation, but on the purpose and ultimate direction of creation. As we state in the ‘Song of Shabbos’ (Tehillim 92): “How great are Your works Hashem; exceedingly profound are Your thoughts.”

The shira of Shabbos is the shirh of the true meaning of life.

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Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author as well as a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ. He has recently begun seeing clients in private practice as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments and speaking engagements, contact 914-295-0115 or [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at