Fellow Jews around the world are uniting to make this Shabbos one that will be observed by more people than perhaps has occurred in generations. Whether we participate with not-yet observant friends or relatives, invite less knowledgeable neighbors for a meal, or focus on the quality of our own family’s Shabbos, we will be part of something remarkable.
The Chofetz Chaim famously compared the divide separating a Jew whose religious commitment was starting to waiver, yet who remained Shabbos observant and one who crossed the line into non-Shabbos observance to the difference between a business closed for renovations and one closed for good. The store may be closed, but if the sign remains up, you can tell that the store is still in business. Conversely, once a Jew stops observing Shabbos, the sign has come down, the enterprise is closed, and the Jew has severed his most important link to his Creator.
Generations of 19th and 20th century Jews went out of business, when the pressures of earning a livelihood overcame their ability to maintain their allegiance to Shabbos. We are here today, because of a few heroes, who withstood those pressures by focusing on their connection to Hashem and the Jewish people. Shabbos was their greatest inspiration, rather than the source of their downfall.
When we realize that Shabbos has been the focal point in the struggle to maintain our integrity as Jews, we can appreciate how significant and meaningful The Shabbos Project really is. If we would only stop and think – what a priceless gift we are giving our children. Shabbosos poorly spent can be the ticket to oblivion, while a Shabbos with passion and delight can open up a future for our children that will bring them joy, fulfillment and connection – to Hashem and to all of Klal Yisrael. It’s up to us to determine what kind of Shabbos our children experience.
Let’s spend this Shabbos disconnecting from what is ultimately meaningless – the pettiness and folly of modern society, modern gadgets, our business and our politics, while we connect to what really counts – our Creator, our family and our people.
Let’s appreciate what this great gift of Shabbos really does for us.
Have a memorable, connected Shabbos,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann