Kibbud Shabbat

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Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik

by R. Aharon Ziegler

The Rambam writes (Hilchot Shabbat 30:16) that even a very important person who is not accustomed to buying things in the marketplace or doing ordinary housework is required to perform, by himself, certain tasks to prepare for Shabbat, for that is its Kavod. We know that among our Sages of earlier generations, one would chop wood for cooking, one would salt the meat, one would braid the wicks for the candles. This was not considered demeaning but rather praiseworthy. Rav Soloveitchik explained, that In general, even if it possible to appoint a Shali’ach [an agent] to perform a Mitzvah, it is preferable for the person to perform the Mitzvah by himself. Although the person fulfills his obligations either way, but when he chooses to do it himself he demonstrates his devotion to the Mitzvah. It is considered a Hiddur Mitzvah, and added enhancement of the Mitzvah. The Rav noted, that regarding Shabbat preparations the Rambam does not write that it is preferable for the person to do it himself, but he writes that it is a requirement even for the most distinguished individuals.

We see that while personal involvement is only a Hidddur for most Mitzvot, for Shabbat preparations it is a requirement. This is because the Mitzvah of Kibbud Shabbat in not merely a means to insure that we will have food and other necessities available on Shabbat. But rather, by preparing for Shabbat beforehand, a person demonstates his personal love and anticipation for that day.

Thus, if he delegates all of the necessary arrangements for Shabbat to others, he has not properly honored the day, because he has not shown his own anticipation and eagerness for Shabbat’s arrival.

About Aharon Ziegler

Rabbi Aharon Ziegler is the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Agudath Achim of Boro Park and the Dean and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Agudath Achim. He is the author of six volumes of Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

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