The Light of My Eyes

“For a six-day period labor may be done, and the seventh day is Shabbos Shabboson, a calling of holiness, you shall not do any work, it a Shabbos for Hashem…”

A once-wealthy man began to suffer one financial setback after another. As time went on he saw his fortune dwindle and soon, in place of wealth and comfort, he faced a mountain of debt. His creditors began collection proceedings against him, and he was forced out of his mansion. Nearly every item of value was taken from him, and he found himself wandering the streets, his once elegant clothes now worn and bedraggled. Passersby — particularly those who knew of his former stature — gave him looks of sympathy and pity.

One day he overheard two men whispering about him. “What a fool that beggar is!”

“Gentlemen,” he said, “it is true that I have lost my wealth, but I have not lost my mind. Certainly I am poverty-stricken, but why did you call me a fool?”

“It is the signet ring on your finger that makes me say so,” one of the men explained. “It is surely valuable. If you would sell it you would not only have enough money to buy some food, but also to purchase some decent clothes instead of the rags you are wearing.”

The once wealthy man shook his head, sadly but firmly.

“I am very hopeful that the same way that the wheel of fortune turned so drastically downwards for me, it will turn up again. I hope to one day regain my wealth, and be able once again to purchase elegant clothing and good food.

“This ring, however, is an inheritance from my forefathers; it is irreplaceable. In addition, it is a reminder of what I once had, and a vehicle of hope and inspiration for the future that I will regain what I’ve lost.”

Shabbos Kodesh — a day of rejuvenation, and a day on which every Jew, each on his own level, can achieve sublime spiritual heights. Even an am ha’aretz, it is said, cannot tell a lie on Shabbos, for on this day all are filled with holiness.

Shabbos serves as a reminder of the levels our ancestors were able to reach on an ordinary weekday, and it fills us with hope and inspiration for the heights that we too — with the help of Hashem — will be able to achieve in the future (adapted from a dvar Torah by Harav Yeshuah Sopher, zt”l).

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The climax of Shabbos is shalosh seudos.

Technically, seudah shlishis, the third seudah, is called shalosh seudos — “three meals.” The seudos of Friday night and Shabbos morning are usually eaten when we’re hungry, so it isn’t clear that they are being eaten to honor Shabbos. However, shalosh seudos, especially in the winter months, is often eaten a few hours after the day seudah, when we are not necessarily hungry, which shows that all three meals are actually eaten lichvod Shabbos.

On an esoteric level, the Friday night meal symbolizes yiras Hashem, which is represented by the attribute of gevurah of Yitzchak Avinu; the day meal symbolizes ahavas Hashem, exemplified by the attribute of chessed of Avraham Avinu; shalosh seudos is the seudah of Yaakov Avinu, whose attribute of tiferes is a combination of both of his forefathers. Thus, shalosh seudos includes components of all three meals.

In Tzav V’zarez, the Piaseczna Rebbe, Harav Klonymus Kalman Shapira, Hy”d, wonders why we don’t quake when we go to shalosh seudos as when we go to Kol Nidrei.

He describes his inner emotions when he leads a shalosh seudos tisch. He tells of the fear and shame at what he perceives to be his deep spiritual shortcomings. He feels the Eyes of Shamayim boring through his inner soul, baring all its deficiencies.

“I want to hide between people, under the table, anyplace,” he tells the Ribbono shel Olam, “but where can I get away from Your Spirit? Wherever I will conceal myself You will find me, wherever I will hide is filled with Your Presence.”

When he reaches the perek Mizmor L’Dovid, “I fear no evil for You are with me,” the Rebbe finds his tongue cleaving to his palate; he is unable to utter a word. He thinks it the ultimate chutzpah for someone on such a low level to tell Hashem, “You are with me!” His shame overcomes him and burns through his very being.

But then the Rebbe finds consolation — he strengthens his soul with the thought that even a shattered son of a king calls out to his father, “Father, you are my father!”

Even if this prince is unworthy of being pitied, if he finds himself lost among the insane and cries out “My Father, the King,” the King will reach out to save him; for the King’s honor is inviolable, and thus a cry of “My Father, the King” may not be heard among the insane.

So the Rebbe is consoled. For even though he senses that he walks in the shadow of death, he cries out to our Heavenly Father, “Avinu Malkeinu, Attah imadi, You are with me.”

“The life of my heart, the light of my eyes, is to call You ‘my Father,’” the Rebbe says. The cry, even from depths of darkness and the shadow of death, cannot be ignored in the Heavenly realms. Even if we are unworthy, the honor of Hashem is at stake, and for the sake of His sacred Name He will hear our cry and bring us close.