Shabbat Infuses Holiness Into All the Days of the Week
At the beginning of Parsha Vayakhel we find the mitzvah of Shabbat, which Moses gave to the Children of Israel: “On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you” (Exodus 35:2). In Parsha Pekudei, after the completion of the Sanctuary and its vessels, we find the aspiration of all the Children of Israel being fulfilled: “The glory of the L-RD filled the Sanctuary” (ibid. 40:34). In reflecting upon this, we see that these things are directly related. The Gemara (Beitzah 16a) records a disagreement between Hillel and Shammai concerning whether a person should live from one Shabbat to the next, or whether he should say, “Blessed be the L-RD, day by day” (Psalms 68:20). In other words, should one begin preparing for Shabbat as early as the first day of the week, or should he rejoice each and every day, with Friday being the time to “bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil” (Exodus 16:23)? In any case, it is certain that whoever has G-d constantly in mind should always have Shabbat in mind as well. A person should prepare himself for the holy Sabbath at all times and at each instant, for the Sages have said that it is through Shabbat that all the days of the week are blessed. Shabbat has a beneficial effect on all the days of the weeks, in order for holiness to reside in those days as well.
Practically speaking, how is it possible to prepare for the holy Sabbath while the evil inclination surrounds us and constantly tries to seduce us, to make us say what we should not say and incite us to sin? In what manner can we arrive at Shabbat? With what attitude will we welcome Shabbat, which is like the King’s wife? How will we be able to perceive the taste of the World to Come in Shabbat?
It is in this regard that the verse tells us, “On six days work may be done.” This means that in all a person’s work, he must remember that each day of the week is a preparation for the holy Sabbath. We must infuse this thought in our minds, the thought that Shabbat will soon be here. We say this in the Friday night prayers by reciting the verse, “The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath…” (Exodus 31:16-17). This not only means observing Shabbat without transgressing it in any way, for we know that the word shemira (“to observe”) can also mean “to keep,” as we see concerning Jacob in Parsha Vayeishev: “His father shamar [kept] the matter [in mind]” (Genesis 37:11). Rashi explains that he waited and looked forward to its occurrence. This means that we also should wait at all times and hope for the coming of the Sabbath Queen, for if the Holy One, blessed be He, allows us to perceive the scent of Gan Eden, why would He not allow us to actually taste it? It is not without reason that each day during Shacharit we recite, just before the Song of the Day, “This is the [first, second, etc.] day of Shabbat,” not “of the week.” This is because we desire to evoke Shabbat on each day of the week. Each day we must desire, as well as take the decision to prepare ourselves for Shabbat. If we conduct ourselves in this way, then even the days of the week will assume a different facet, for if we are constantly living in the atmosphere of Shabbat, our entire lives will unfold in a new way.
However before all else, Jews should be completely united. We see in our parsha that Moses assembled all the Children of Israel without exception, transmitting to them the mitzvah of observing Shabbat. Consequently, it is evident that it is solely through unity among the Jewish people that we will be able to taste the holy Sabbath, a foretaste of the World to Come. This is because it is only through unity that everyone can remind others of the mitzvah of Shabbat and lead them to partake of its holiness. Since we are speaking of Shabbat and awaiting it, we must also realize that one of the most beautiful mitzvot is to prepare ourselves materially for Shabbat. We see this in tractate Kiddushin, which mentions the Tannaim and Amoraim who made material preparations for Shabbat. There we read of Rabba, who salted his fish, and of Rav Safra, who personally roasted his food, even though others could have done it for them (Kiddushin 41a).
Consequently, if those great Tannaim and Amoraim were capable of personally preparing meals in honor of Shabbat, how much more does it apply to us? Obviously, we have to do the same. The Halachah, moreover, establishes what we must do to prepare for Shabbat. In fact some tzaddikim have said that by the merit of material preparations for Shabbat, by continuously elevating ourselves, we can also achieve spiritual preparedness. This is due to the fact that dealing with the material requirements of Shabbat leads to spiritual elevation.
The holiness of Shabbat is so great that the gaon of Chernovitz, Rabbi Chaim Zatzal (the author of the Torah commentary Be’er Mayim Chaim, as well as Sidduro Shel Shabbat on the greatness of Shabbat) was actually taller on Shabbat. In fact whenever he entered the Beit Midrash on Shabbat, he had to bend down in order not to hit his head when passing through a door. We say this about Shabbat not only because of Rabbi Chaim, for everyone can reach such a level, if only they would cherish Shabbat.
Reflecting on this, we understand that this is the connection between the beginning of Parsha Vayakhel and the end of Parsha Pekudei. It states at the end of the latter, “The glory of the L-RD filled the Sanctuary” (Exodus 40:34), which teaches us that a person who accomplishes all this, and who truly desires to welcome Shabbat in a state of purity and cleanliness, it is precisely in the home of such a person that the Shechinah resides, that “the glory of the L-RD” rests. The Shechinah fills the home of that individual, for the Holy One, blessed be He, also desires to come and dwell in the home of such a Jew.