Let’s continue with our theme of enjoying and enhancing our Shabbos observances.
- After the Shabbos davening, there is a beautiful custom: Everyone wishes each other to have a ‘Good Shabbos’ or ‘Shabbat Shalom.’ This is literally a very rewarding experience. Hashem told Avraham Avinu, “Va’avarcha mvarcheka – I will bless those who bless you.” The commentators explain that this teaches us that anyone who blesses a Jew (as a descendent of Avraham) will be blessed by Hashem. So too, our Shabbos best wishes not only spread good will and cheer, they also get for us a heavenly blessing as well.
- Rav Miller, zt”l, zy”a, used to say that there are three steps to greeting people properly. They are revealed to us through Shammai’s dictum in Pirkei Avos. “Hevei mekabel kol adam beseiver ponim yafos – One should greet every one with a smiling face.” Rav Miller broke down this advice into three components. 1) Beseiver – Put meaning into your Shabbos wishes. When you say ‘Good Shabbos,’ have in mind that his food should be tasty, his nap should be peaceful and his home should be tranquil. 2) Ponim – Look at the person when you are greeting them. Don’t shake a hand while you’re focusing on something else. Perfunctory greetings are insulting. 3) Yafos – give your very best smile. As the saying goes, “Happiness is contagious; be a carrier.”
- Under no circumstances should you avoid giving an out loud ‘Good Shabbos’ to someone. Even if you do not like the person, it should not stop you from wishing him well. If you find yourself snubbing people, you are probably flirting with the terrible aveira, sin, of “Lo sisna es achicha bilvavecha – Do not despise your companion in your heart,” and you need to correct it as soon as possible.
- Bring your children to say ‘Good Shabbos’ to the Rabbi. This simple exercise bears mighty fruit. If you do this regularly every Shabbos, by the time the child is bar mitzvah, he has gone over to the Rav thousands of times. This small discipline will go a long way in training one’s child to be respectful of the Rabbi and to go to him when he has a question or a problem.
- After davening, many times there is a kiddush – either to celebrate a simcha or to create an opportunity for people to socialize in a permissible fashion. The kiddush is a good time to teach our children lessons in social etiquette. Since the food is service smorgasbord style, children should be trained to allow their elders to go first and not to greedily pile high their plates with choice selections before people many years their senior get a chance to take a bite.
- In many shuls, the rabbi makes Kiddush for everyone – and then individuals can choose to make their own Kiddush as well (on their choice schnapps, of course). It is a lack of koved ha’Torah to publicly make Kiddush before the rabbi and, since it enables the one who jumps the gun to dig in before everyone else, it is also a public display of gluttony.
- I have always had mixed feelings about a shul kiddush. On one hand, it is a pleasant opportunity for people to get to know one another and bond. On the other hand, people fill themselves up with herring and kichel, then cholent (and you know you can never have just one plateful of a caterer’s cholent) and kugel. They then come home stuffed to the gills. As their wives layout their culinary labors on the table, they give a krechtz and exclaim “I can’t even look at all of this stuff I’m so full!” To make matters worse, there are some people who, if they know in advance that there’s going to be a big shul kiddush, wash in shul and skip entirely the meal at home. While this might make for sound economics, it means the family loses one of the last bastions of together-time of the entire week. I therefore, always try to discipline myself to just being a ‘taster’ at kiddushim – saving my appetite for my wife’s preparations.
- It goes without saying that no matter how expensive the Blue Label or single malt scotch is at the kiddush, one should not over indulge. It is not proper to come home for the Shabbos meal, to sit with your family at the head of the table in an inebriated fashion.
- (I do not mean to imply with this comment that such behavior is the norm. I am certain that it is not, however…) It also goes without saying that one should not get too familiar with other people’s wives at the kiddush mixer (especially if a little tipsy because of too much schnapps). One should not engage in any flirtatious behavior; this is the antithesis of all that our Torah ideals stand for.
- If the man of the house is the only person attending the kiddush, be conscientious of the fact that your wife and children are waiting at home to start their Shabbos meal. They might not have even heard Kiddush yet and are, therefore, very hungry. Proper middos dictate that you shouldn’t sit around shooting the breeze and eating at a leisurely pace. Rather, indulge for a short time and get home as quickly as possible acknowledging to your family that you know they were waiting. The chivalrous husband (if there is an eruv) can even bring home a small choice selection for his wife to enjoy.
- On the other hand, don’t be the introvert who shuns every kiddush and dashes out to enjoy your own meal in your own home. Chazal sternly caution us, “Al tifrosh min hatzibor – Don’t separate yourself from the community.” And, even if you do not like the idea of standing in line for food and eating in a crowd, your spouse might need the chance for some social activity. As in all areas of Yiddishkeit, proper balance is the name of the game.
- Many shul kiddushim take place in the sanctuary itself. It is important that we remain mindful that we are in a makom kodosh, a holy place, and that we clean up after ourselves to show proper respect. We should also be mindful of making proper brachos achronos, blessings after eating, before leaving to go home.
- Finally, let’s not lose sight of the balei simcha, the people who sponsored the kiddush. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the matjes herring and the overnight potato kugel that we leave before wishing them a mazel tov.
In the merit of our continuous Shabbos enjoyment, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.