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Sweating before Shabbat

Friday, 29 January, 2010 - 12:15 pm

Dear Friends,

Every Friday is busy; it seems to be a way to appreciate the peacefulness on Shabbat. Last Friday was busier than ever, trying to get all we needed from the house and shul for the Shabbaton.

Thank G-d everything went very well. To be honest, it was Chani's detailed list, which wasn't missing a thing, that saved us! We arrived at the Kiwi cove Lodge with enough time before Shabbat to set up the eiruv. 30 minutes before Shabbat, I realized that the only thing that was my sole responsibility to prepare wasn't there! I had intended to give a class from a book of Torah Or, written by the first Chabbad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady, in the 18th century. I forgot to bring the book and I didn’t have even one copy for myself.

It was at that moment when I remembered, a site that has no less than 50,000 books on Judaism. I ran to the office to work on the computer. Everything seemed to be going wrong. The browser wasn't working with that site, there were no Hebrew characters on the computer, and the printer was getting stuck. Finally, 5 minutes before candle lighting, I had 15 copies of the Torah Or on the Parshah in my hand.

On the one hand, it felt very good. There I was in a little village in the middle of Vancouver Island, able to print out this book of Chasidism that was printed some two hundred years ago on the other side of the world. On the other hand, I felt like a fool. Why had I wasted the precious minutes before Shabbat fighting with the computer rather than better using my time and teaching something else in the morning?!

On Motzei Shabbat, one of the participants of the Shabbaton told me, "It was worth it to come to the Shabbaton just for the morning lecture. It was exactly what I needed to hear.”

The effort was well worth it, and maybe just because I worked hard at getting it - it was so well received. King David says in Tehilim (psalms), "Do not place your trust in munificent benefactors.” What comes with no effort will never be as valuable as does that which comes with sweat...

Chani joins me in wishing you Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Meir Kaplan 


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