Friends, Friday night we say “good Shabbos” to each other, to our wives, to our children. When we arrive home we realize that something happened to our house – it’s filled with angels.
Do you know who the real angels are? Our children. During the week I think that they are just children. But on Friday night, after I have purified my heart by praying with all my heart, I come home and I realize, “Master of the world! How can I ever thank You for these beautiful angels You sent into my house.”
Boachem LeShalom [Come in peace]. Children; let your coming into my house be in peace. The whole world should be filled with peace.
Barchuni LeShalom [Bless me with peace]. Children, bless me that just because of you I should be able to bring peace to the world, peace to the Holy Land, peace to every person.
Tsetchem LeShalom [Go to peace]. One day our children will build their own homes. The deepest question is: what will I give them for the way? So I bless you and me to tell our children, “When someday you leave my house, take Shabbos with you.”
You know what kind of Shabbos I have? I have the Shabbos of my father and my grandfather. And they have the Shabbos of their father and grandfather, all the way from Moshe Rabbenu and Avraham Avinu, until Mashiach is coming.
There are two kinds of angels: Angels who help us to do good, and angels who make it so very hard for us by bringing us all of the obstacles, all the trials, all the tests, and all the tribulations. Friday night I say to G-d, “Thank You for making it so hard to be a Jew, because if it was easy, it would be meaningless.”
Is there anything more beautiful in the world than a Jewish home on a Friday night? There is so much love and peace. You can see how much the parents love each other, how much the parents love their children, and how much the children love their parents.
Adam and Eve didn’t get so close to each other on the first day. So every Shabbos every Jew wants to fix the relationship with his wife. I sing and thank G-d: “How can I ever thank You for giving me my soulmate, for bringing the one person into the world to whom I can be so close? How can I ever thank You for my holy wife, for my holy soulmate, who brought such holy children into the world?”
According to our holy Rabbis, we are not only referring to our wives, but also to the holy Torah from Heaven, the most beautiful thing in the world which G-d gave us. We say, “Thank You for every holy word and for every holy letter. Where would I be without the Torah? Where would my children be without the Torah? Master of the world, for one page of Talmud I would give my life a million times.”
Blessing the children
Before Kiddush, the holiest custom is for every father and mother to put their hands on the heads of their children. And if maybe the hands are not shaking… inside, inside, our heart is shaking, our soul is shaking. And we are blessing our children.
According to the great kabbalists, you are supposed to say your name and the name of your child. Because, sadly enough, since Yitzchak didn’t know who he was blessing, so very much pain came into the world after that.
Do you know what is so special about Jewish parents? For us, our children are the most beautiful children in the world. If you ask me, “Is there anybody in the world I could compare my children to?” I would say, “Yes, my children are like our forefathers and foremothers, like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, like Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.”
When we bless them we are in Yerushalayim shel Mala [The Jerusalem above in Heaven], we are on a different plane, we are somewhere else.
When my father would bless me, my father would always be sitting down. I was a little boy, and I would bend my head down. My father would put his hands on my head. I could feel my father shaking. You are supposed keep your head down, but I was a little boy, so from time to time I would look up at my father’s face, and I always saw tears coming down from his eyes.
I remember that, on Yom Kippur night, when my father would bless me a particularly long blessing, the floor beneath him was always wet with his tears.
A person needs to know what to do, and he needs the strength to do it.
When you bless your children with your hands, you are giving them all the teachings in the world; you give them that blessing of knowing what to do, and having the strength to do it.
How can you teach your child what to do forty years from now? On Friday night, when you bless your child….
Do you know, my beautiful children and all of your children, what kind of blessing I give you? I give you the blessings that go all the way back to Yitzchak, all the way back to Rivka.
In this world, when you want to show that you are the master of someone, you put them down and step on them. But how does G-d show that He is your master? He lifts you up.
When we were the slaves of Pharaoh, we were downhearted, we were broken. Then we became servants of G-d. You know what G-d did to us? He lifted us up. So, therefore, according to our holy tradition, we lift up the cup of wine. We lift it up to the same level where our heart is, and then we say Kiddush.
The grape has to go through so much pain until it becomes wine, but then, when it’s wine, it’s so beautiful.
We have to go through so much pain sometimes until we reach where we have to be. But, gevalt, am I glad that it ends up as good wine. If you would ask the grape his opinion in the middle of the process of becoming wine, the grape would say, “You know what I am going through? Everyone steps on me. I was so beautiful before. Look at what is happening to me now.” But I would answer, “Wait. Soon, soon, soon.”
The Ishbitser Rebbe says: Wine is the symbol of those forces in the world which make us forget, which dehumanize us. You know what I do? On Shabbos I take the wine in my hand and I say, “There is no power in the world which can make me forget that there is one G-d.” Not only can nothing make me forget, I say to the wine, “Thank you. You remind me of Shabbos, you remind me of G-d.”
The Meals of Shabbos
Rebbe Nachman says: during the week you eat for two reasons, either because you are hungry because you haven’t eaten for a long time, or because you need strength for the future. On Shabbos, you eat because of the moment, right now, because it is Shabbos.
Imagine that you are very hungry and very tired, just at the end of your strength, and then someone walks into the room that you love very much. Suddenly you are no longer hungry or tired, because suddenly you received light from the Highest Place. On Shabbos, my heart is so full of light that I don’t really need food; I eat because I am celebrating.
Friday night is the time of seeing, of discovering the unbelievable beauty and sweetness of the world, of the Torah, of people, and, above all, of all those I love the most.
Shabbos morning is a time of tasting. Tasting is even deeper than seeing. Most people love what they see in each other, but tasting each other’s soul, each other’s depths….
Fragrance is the beauty which is beyond seeing and tasting, the kind of depth of experience which only my soul can fathom.
Happy are those who walk the streets of the world with the fragrance of Shabbos.
Friday night is the time for fixing jealousy. Jealousy comes from thinking that someone else can take my place or my portion. In the deepest depths of my being, it’s my own emptiness, my own incapability to retain what G-d has given me.
Friday night, when my heart becomes so full, so overflowing, like the wine from the Kiddush, then jealousy is wiped out from my heart, and, hopefully, eventually, from the hearts of all mankind.
Shabbos morning is the time for fixing the desire to grab, because what G-d gives me, I don’t have to grab or steal and I don’t even have to take it; it’s given to me. A slave takes; a king receives.
The third meal of Shabbos fixes self-esteem, honor, giving up hope. The third meal is like the world to come, when the world will be filled with G-d’s glory, with the glory of every human being, when the honor of a child is enough to fill the whole universe with the deepest depths of G-d’s honor.
Do you know what the third meal of Shabbos is? It is very dark. It is a different kind of darkness. You know, friends, there’s a kind of darkness when you are afraid of the person sitting next to you, and there is a kind of holy darkness that if someone is sitting next to you, you give them your hand. You don’t even ask who they are. This is a holy kind of darkness, a darkness which is full.
The first meal of Shabbos is for Avraham, who left the pagan world to go to Israel. We leave the mundane world to go into Shabbos.
Yitzchak was brought up in Avraham’s house, so Shabbos morning is his meal; completely holy from all sides.
The third meal of Shabbos is like Yaakov Avinu, leaving the Holy Land and praying, “Please G-d, let me come back next Shabbos.”
Some people need Friday night because they have so much trouble leaving the world behind. Some people, whenever they leave Shabbos, they never come back, so they need Yaakov Avinu.
Imagine I love a girl very much, and we’re standing on a street corner saying good–bye to each other. I walk to the corner and then I realize; I can’t walk away from her. She walks to the other corner, and she realizes that she can’t walk away from me, either. I turn around, and I see that she also has turned around and is also standing at the corner. Gevalt, suddenly we run back to each other. Gevalt, is that deep.
On Saturday night, Shabbos ends. Suddenly I realize; I can’t forget about Shabbos. I look around, gevalt, Shabbos is standing on the other corner. Then we eat the feast of King David, the fourth meal. It is even deeper than Shabbos.
King David gives us strength to keep Shabbos until the next Shabbos. To keep Shabbos on Shabbos is not so hard. The question is, do we keep Shabbos on Monday, on Wednesday? That is what Shabbos is all about.
During the Second World War the Rebbe of Bobov disguised himself as a Polish officer so he could smuggle children out of the concentration camps. Thirteen years later he performed the Bar Mitzva ceremony for a boy whom, at the age of two days old, he had smuggled out of a concentration camp. At the Bar Mitzva ceremony the Rebbe was crying so much, saying, “I carried you out. Did I ever dream that I would be at your Bar Mitzva!?”
The Rebbe of Bobov was caught by the Nazis 127 times. In his shoes he had gold hidden, so each time he was caught he could bribe the Nazis, and they would let him go. On the one hundred and twenty seventh time that he was caught, he had nothing left with which to bribe the Nazis. The Talmud says, when something goes wrong, make a little vow. He said, “Master of the Universe, I make a vow: Every Saturday night I will eat the feast in honor of King David together with many people.” At that moment, another Nazi came up and said to the first Nazi, “Do you have a match? I want to smoke a cigarette.” The first Nazi put his gun against the wall… In the meantime, the Rebbe of Bobov escaped.
I’m sure the second Nazi was really Eliyahu the Prophet in disguise, or maybe it was King David himself who came to save him.