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Shabbos Relief

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 10/6/2019

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   Shabbos Relief

The Gemara says כיון ששבת ווי אבדה נפש; once one has completed Shabbos, woe, he has lost the soul.[1] R’ Moshe Kobriner[2] gives us a novel interpretation and says the Nefesh removes (אבדה) the woe and pain through Shabbos. Indeed, we sing in the Zemer on Friday night in יום זה לישראל- לנפש מצרה תסיר אנחה; for a troubled soul, it removes moaning.


The מתוק מדבש[3] says that ‘one needs to accept Shabbos with happiness and delight in it. Included in delighting in Shabbos is to distance oneself from sadness. With our eyes, we saw many people that a certain instance of pain happened on Erev Shabbos and through accepting Shabbos with happiness and diverting from the pain, the situation reversed from יגון לשמחה מאפילה לאורה; darkness to light.’


The story is told of the Levush’s[4] (1535-1612) only son that was found murdered near Horodna, where the Levush was Rav. When the mayor arrived he ordered that the body be kept in a nearby inn until it was ready for burial. The body was then placed in a room and then locked. Although the Levush heard the tragic news just prior to Shabbos, he resolved that he would make every effort to ensure that the spirit of Shabbos would not be compromised by his personal misery. In order to escape his intense grief, he began composing the Friday night Zemer of מה יפית. He became so engrossed in expressing the lofty ideas and emotions of the song that he calmed himself. In heaven, this made a profound impact. As the Levush composed the final stanza חי זקף; o living God raise up, it was decided that his deceased son should be raised up and brought back to life. That Friday night his son awoke and attempted to leave the hotel room but found the door locked. He then climbed out of the window and arrived home at the conclusion of Shabbos just as his father was removing his shoes to commence the mourning period for his son. Upon seeing his beloved son he was overwhelmed with joy. He assumed that the account he was told of his son’s death was a fabrication until his son informed him that it was all true. He had died and because of the merit of the great Zemer, he was revived. This story spread to even the non-Jews of the city. The non-Jews began referring to the Jews living there as “the Jews, singers of מה יפית.”[5]

R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance. 

[1] Beitza 16a

[2] Toras Avos, Shabbos, 22

[3] Taamai HaMinhagim, pg 151. Adam Neumann, an Israeli-American billionaire businessman, once said, “Shabbat…it’s never been a day more relevant than today as technology takes over our lives. The average human being will look at his phone 160 times a day… And then comes Shabbat and we disconnect from technology. You connect to your loved ones and friends, and you connect to something greater than yourself. You suddenly remember why you are here and what it is all about…

[4] The following story of the Levush is brought in a sefer from the Chofetz Chaim (Machane Yisrael, chapter 19). While in his youth, the Levush once found himself trapped in the home of a woman who tried to seduce him. His only escape route was through a chute that was used to empty the house’s sewage system. Without hesitation he escaped through there, ruining the clothes he was wearing. Following this, it was decided in heaven that as a reward he would become the author of 10 Sefarim each known as the Levush. Indeed, לבוש; Levush means garment alluding to his great deed in fleeing from sin.

[5] Mekadshai Shevii, p 307

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