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The Ideal Sabbath, and Why You Should Not Waste Yours, Part 2

April 26, 2014

(Part One here.)

I previously cited this halacha concerning what Maimonides believed to be the proper way to spend the Sabbath (Sabbath 30:10):

The practice of the righteous of the former generations would be as follows: A person would recite the morning service and the additional service in the synagogue. Afterwards, he would return home and partake of the second [Sabbath] meal. He would then proceed to the house of study, to read [from the Written Law] and to study [the Oral Law] until the time for minha, at which time he would recite the afternoon service. He would then [partake of] the third [Sabbath] meal, a significant [sitting] at which wine is served, and continue eating and drinking until the Sabbath passed.

This should be compared to what he says concerning the observance of Yom Tov (6:19):

Although eating and drinking on the holidays are included in the positive commandment [to rejoice], one should not devote the entire day to food and drink. The following is the desired practice: In the morning, the entire people should get up and attend the synagogues and the houses of study where they pray and read a portion of the Torah pertaining to the holiday. Afterwards, they should return home and eat. Then they should go to the house of study, where they read [from the Written Law] and review [the Oral Law] until noon. After noon, they should recite the afternoon service and return home to eat and drink for the remainder of the day until nightfall.

Now, at first glance it seems that just as Maimonides writes about how Yom Tov should be honored and enjoyed like the Sabbath (ibid., 16)

Just as it is a mitzvah to honor the Sabbath and to take delight in it, so too, do [these obligations apply to] all the holidays, as [implied by Isaiah 58:13], “…sanctified unto God and honored.” [This applies to] all the holidays, for they are called, “holy convocations.” We have explained the obligation implied by honor and delight in Hilchot Shabbat..

then the ideal schedule is the same for both. However, the critical distinction lies in the appropriate time for the afternoon service. On the Sabbath, it is in the middle of the afternoon, whereas on Yom Tov it is after noon, the earliest possible time, what we call minha g’dola, so as to allow for more partying afterwards. (It is also interesting that Maimonides equates all the laws of of the meals, and that in his opinion there should be three meals also on Yom Tov. I have no idea why many do not at least try to follow this opinion just to stay on the safe side, like they do with every other halacha in Orah Hayim.)

When I first started studying the laws of the Sabbath as an adult, I noticed that the scholars and Rabbis I most admired did not make use of local eruvei hatzeiroth, the Eruv that allows carrying in “public” domains, on the Sabbath. They did not carry anything in the streets every Saturday, but they did carry on Yom Tov on a weekday, something that is permissible even without an Eruv. You see, the sages envisioned the Sabbath as a day when most stay home, and men are supposed to spend extra time studying, and because of our Eruvin and eating habits and social gatherings, that vision has been replaced with what they would view as a weekly Yom Tov.  Every Sabbath has become a festival. A vestige oif the sages’ vision of these two types of holy days is our practice of reading the Torah Sabbath afternoons, but not doing so on weekday Yom Tov afternoons, as the Sabbath is primarily for study.

Gentlemen, please consider that when you elevate the weekly Sabbath to the level of what should be the occasional Yom Tov, you miss out big time on what your Sabbath was meant to be.



From → halacha, original

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