Rebbe Nachman’s lesson beginning with the words, “One must be very careful always to be joyful on Shabbos” is in Likutey Moharan II, 17.
This lesson was revealed on a Friday night. Rebbe Nachman began by asking his student Reb Noson, “Are you joyous on Shabbos?” Reb Noson answered, “Ich bin amal frum – I sometimes have religious trepidation (because of the numerous laws of Shabbos).”
The Rebbe said, “This is not the way. The main thing is joy.” He admonished Reb Noson to be happy, especially on Shabbos.
The Rebbe then revealed the above lesson, speaking of the importance of Shabbos joy.
The Rebbe discussed this at length, lecturing his followers to be in a joyous mood on Shabbos. He said that we should do everything possible to bring ourselves to such joy, as recorded in the lesson.
The Rebbe said we should buy delicacies for Shabbos. “All of your income is decreed from the beginning of the year. But what you spend for Shabbos and festivals is not included in the decree (Beitzah 16a). Even a simple family man enjoys Shabbos with his tasty food such as fish and broth.”
He then said to Reb Noson, “Now you have something to be depressed about.” He meant that he had just lectured him to be joyous on Shabbos and Reb Noson had not been worthy of such happiness. This made him even more depressed.
[The Rebbe had actually read Reb Noson’s thoughts. As soon as he declared that he must be joyous, Reb Noson began worrying because he had not attained such Shabbos joy.]
When the Rebbe said, “Now you have something to make you depressed,” it actually gave Reb Noson much comfort and encouragement. For it made him realize that he should not worry about rejoicing to the point of becoming depressed.
When the Rebbe lectured Reb Noson about this, Reb Noson responded, “I have a very great desire to be filled with joy on Shabbos.” [He meant that even if he was not worthy of actual joy, he still had a great yearning for it. The Rebbe had spoken many times about the importance of desire and longing (see “His Wisdom” #12, #14, #260).] The Rebbe called to those around him, “Have you heard what he said? He spoke well!”
The Rebbe also told us to sing many zemirot and other Shabbos songs (see Tzaddik #520). He said, “Do not pay attention to any obstacles. Others may be sitting at the table and not seem to have any desire to sing. Strengthen yourself and sing with joy. Conduct the Shabbos table in a happy mood. The main thing is Shabbos joy.”
May we all merit to experience the true joy of Shabbos no matter what challenges we happen to be facing.
(Adapted from Sichos HaRan #155)