Spreading the Light of Shabbos

Nothing is this world is a coincidence.

Divine Providence guides everything. The fact that The Shabbos Project takes place on Shabbos Parashas Lech Lecha is deeply significant. Parashas Lech Lecha is all about Avraham Avinu. What was it about Avraham that made him the founding father of Klal Yisrael? Noach was also a righteous man and had the merit to be saved amidst a world that was destroyed. And there were other righteous people in the generations between Adam and Avraham. So what was so special about Avraham Avinu?

A careful reading of the Rambam in Hilchos Avodas Kochavim Chapter 1 gives us the answer. The Rambam traces the spiritual journey of Avraham Avinu and says that it began at the age of three and culminated at the age of 40. He began searching for Hashem as a young child and found complete wisdom, clarity and connection to Hashem by the age of 40, in a world filled with idolatry and moral confusion. But then comes the crucial part. Avraham and Sarah do not keep to themselves alone the wisdom and insight that they find. They embark upon a journey to spread it to as many people as possible.

The Rambam writes that on the journey to, and then in, Eretz Yisrael, Avraham preached a message of faith in Hashem and decency and ethics to many, many people, to the point where he raised up tens of thousands of disciples. Although the Rambam is based on the Midrash, it is referred to in the Chumash itself when it says that when they went on their journey they took with them “the souls which they made in Charan” (Bereishis 12:5). Rashi on that verse explains how Avraham brought the men close and Sarah brought the women close and that these were people whom they had persuaded and inspired to become believers in Hashem.

In the same chapter, the Rambam chronicles the history of belief in Hashem from the time of Adam all the way until the giving of the Torah. It seems clear from the context and the overview that the Rambam provides that the turning point in history and what made Avraham so different from anybody else was that as soon as he discovered Hashem, he was determined to share his faith and wisdom with as many people as possible. The commentators contrast Avraham with Noach, who made no effort to share his connection to Hashem with the people of his generation. Avraham and Noach were both righteous people, but Avraham shared the light of Torah with his generation, and Noach did not.

We are the descendants of Avraham and Sarah, and therefore we need to follow in their footsteps. The Torah belongs to all of Klal Yisrael and we need to share it with as many people as possible. This is the vision of The Shabbos Project — to share the power, the energy and the inspiration of Shabbos with as many Jews around the world as possible.

And that is why it is so significant that The Shabbos Project falls out on Shabbos Parashas Lech Lecha. It is the parashah that reminds us of our responsibility to share the light and joy of Hashem’s Torah with others. The Gemara (Shabbos 10b) says that Shabbos is a gift from Hashem, and it is indeed a gift to all of Klal Yisrael. We need to share this gift with as many people as possible. The Shabbos Project shares the gift of Shabbos with Jews in 90 countries and in almost 1,000 cities around the world, across eight languages. It is driven by the philosophy that Shabbos belongs to all Jews equally, and that those who have had the privilege of enjoying the special gift of Shabbos need to share that with as many others as possible. Let us make this Shabbos Lech Lecha a beacon of light in the spirit of Avraham Avinu, and let us spread its light to every Jew in the world.