| Parshah |

Fiery Fridays

We work during the week, but parnassah comes from the holiness of Shabbos


“These are the things that Hashem commanded…  the seventh day should be holy for you” (Shemos 35:1-2)


From the words “eleh hadevarim —these are the things,” the Gemara (Shabbos 97) derives that there are 39 types of work that are forbidden on Shabbos. The gematria of eleh is 36. Devarim, things, is plural, thus adding another two. The “extra” hei at the beginning hadevarim adds one more, for a total of 39, which indicates the 39 types of work that we are forbidden to do on Shabbos. (Rabbi Elimelech Biderman, Torah Wellsprings)

In my line of work, I live with deadlines and schedules — and I thrive that way. In my personal life, too, tell me I’m making a chasunah in seven weeks (halevai!) and I’ll shift into action, calculating what needs to be done and when. I work backwards from Pesach, well into Adar, planning when to shop and when to clean. I’m the same way with Shabbos prep —I shop early in the week and start cooking on Thursday. But sometimes, despite my perfect planning, there’s a week where nothing seems to go right.

Thirty-nine is also the gematria of tal, dew. The Torah tells us that the mahn that fell in the desert was sandwiched in dew. Today, our mahn, our parnassah, is sandwiched in the 39 melachos; we perform these tasks during the week, while we work, but the essential root of our parnassah is based on our Shabbos observance.

Take the shortest Friday of this winter. Knowing I was having company, I had the extra shopping done by Wednesday and stayed up late Thursday night cleaning. Still, I was up, bright and early, Friday morning to put up my challah dough.

But after mixing and rising I suddenly couldn’t remember if I’d added salt. (I have no idea why, but this ingredient always makes me pause and say, hey, did I put in salt or not?) If you taste the dough, you can’t decide, but if you bake it sans salt, it tastes terrible. So, figuring I had plenty of time, I decide to bake one roll and taste it. Clearing the oven schedule for one lone roll was a bit of a challenge, but it was concluded that salt had been added. Terrific.

The kids came home, and moving right along, I took out the hot plate and put it on the counter while I went down the hall to supervise showers. An acrid smell wafted down the hall. The plug of the hot plate had caught fire from the soup boiling next to the counter.

Chasdei Hashem, a fire was averted. And thankfully, my husband’s handy, and soon replaced the plug. But I was way behind schedule. And so were the showers.

We work during the week, but parnassah comes from the holiness of Shabbos. To receive the blessing of Shabbos, we need peace. The yetzer hara knows of the potential of Shabbos, and therefore strives to get people angry about it, thus ruining their potential for parnassah.
The Chasam Sofer says this is alluded to in the pasuk, “Don’t make fire… on Shabbos” (Shemos 35:3). Don’t get angry, raise fiery arguments, on Shabbos. The Gemara (Gittin 52) tells of a couple whom the Satan would incite to fight every Friday evening, until Reb Meir was able to establish peace between them. This couple, the Chasam Sofer says, is an example of what happens in many homes on Fridays.
Acknowledging that these Friday fights are instigated by the Satan helps a couple maintain peace. If we pass this test, we merit Shabbos’s blessings of parnassah.

As I was hustling everyone along, Binyamin announced that he couldn’t find his Shabbos pants. They were discovered at the bottom of the pile of laundry, waiting to be ironed. (If people had listened to me and put their Shabbos clothing in the laundry at the beginning of the week, this could’ve been avoided. But I’ve long ago learned that not everyone shares my perspective on deadlines.)

Then the phone rang. An automated voice from my doctor’s office informed me that my son had strep. We needed to get antibiotics.

Time was a’tickin’, my company had arrived, and I plugged in the hot water urn. The electricity blew. I’m not going to get into what it took to get that running again, but it was a miracle that when lichtbentshen approached, our house was ready.

I stood in front of the candles, and heartfully thanked Hashem that He had once again allowed me to meet this weekly deadline without getting fired.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 782)

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