Keeping It Together

In these days of intense preparation, our minds are filled with thoughts about Yom Tov meals, decorating sukkos, and purchasing arbaah minim. Those who like to plan in advance may also be thinking about Simchas Torah and Shabbos Bereishis, which falls on Isru Chag this year.

Few of us are thinking now about Shabbos Noach, which is nearly three weeks away.

But we should be.

As we reported in our Rosh Hashanah edition, Shabbos Parashas Noach 5775 — corresponding to the evening of October 24 to the evening of the 25th — is the scheduled date for a historic global Shabbos initiative, called “The Shabbos Project.”

When Rabbi Ze’ev Warren Goldstein, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, last year first introduced “The Shabbos Project” — an initiative to encourage large numbers of his brethren to keep a Shabbos in full, in accordance with all details of the Shulchan Aruch — many were skeptical. They argued that it couldn’t be done. Yet, estimates are that about 35,000 Jews in South Africa, half the country’s Jewish population, participated last year on Parashas Lech Lecha.

In the days, weeks and months that followed, Rabbi Goldstein was contacted by leaders of Jewish communities around the world eager to try and implement The Shabbos Project in their own cities.

This year, this project will take place throughout the world.

“It is going to be one Shabbos for the whole Jewish world — an opportunity for Jews of all levels of observance and from all walks of life to ‘Keep It Together,’” Rabbi Goldstein says, referring to the Shabbos Project tagline.

Gedolei Yisrael have warmly endorsed this idea, and leading kiruv organizations will be partaking in this unprecedented effort.

A primary focus of this venture is for individuals to either help inspire a nonreligious families to keep a proper Shabbos in their own home, with all the halachos of bishul and not driving and not using phones, or invite a not-yet-religious family or individual to spend Shabbos or eat a Shabbos meal in a frum home.

The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh teaches that the mitzvah of shemiras Shabbos isn’t only limited to one’s ensuring that one kept Shabbos; one must also “watch over the Shabbos” and do all one can to try to make sure that it isn’t violated by others.

The fact that this is a worldwide event helps provide the impetus — and a perfect reason — to make the suggestion to someone who has never experienced the glory of Shabbos before, to keep this Shabbos Parashas Noach. We know that mitzvah goreres mitzvah — one mitzvah brings another. Certainly the keeping of one Shabbos will influence the keeping of many other Shabbosos and additional mitzvos. We have no inkling of the effect that keeping even a single Shabbos has on the soul of a Jew and we can’t fathom how many desperately needed merits this amasses for Klal Yisrael.

In his interview with Hamodia, Rabbi Goldstein noted that the fact that the number of Shabbos observers will be boosted, even for one week, will be a chizuk for everyone — including all members of the Torah-true community.

He encouraged learning hilchos Shabbos and conveying the ruchniyus of Shabbos to one’s family through Shabbos zemiros and divrei Torah.

Following this advice will not only be an inspiration for ourselves, but will help inspire the not-yet-observant as well.

Hagaon Harav Elazar Shach, zt”l, was walking one Shabbos on a street on the outskirts of Bnei Brak. Suddenly he turned to the talmid who was accompanying him and asked, “Why on this street are there cars traveling on Shabbos, while over on that street there are none? Who sets the boundary where the cars may and may not drive?”

“Here [on the street in which cars are not traveling] is Bnei Brak, while the other street is in Ramat Gan,” the talmid explained.

“That is not the reason,” Harav Shach told him. “The reason is that the influence of the shemiras Shabbos of the chareidim reaches up to this point, until this street. Were we to strengthen ourselves more in shemiras Shabbos, then its influence would extend further and cars would not travel on the other road either. Harav Yisrael Salanter, zy”a, said that if a Jew converts in France, R”l, it is due to Yidden in Kovna being negligent in avodas Hashem.”

As indicated in Chazal, Shabbos is a mitzvah that has the power to bring about the Geulah Sheleimah. When Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlita, was consulted about the idea, he declared, “This can bring Moshiach!”

The Yom Tov Sukkos has — on numerous levels — a special connection to the Geulah Sheleimah. The haftaros we read on the first day of Yom Tov as well as that of Shabbos Chol Hamoed describe the war of Gog and Magog that will precede the coming of Moshiach.

As we sit in the sukkah and celebrate this most joyous Yom Tov, let us take the time to brainstorm how best to aid in this momentous project and support it in every way possible.