Monday, February 07, 2011

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It Makes Me Totally Uncomfortable

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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A young woman wrote:

I was so moved by your book Coming Back to Earth that I made a hachlata (decision) to start doing mivtzoyim, (outreach), something that I HATE to do. I am not the kind of person who can just go up to someone I don't know and tell them to light Shabbos candles. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable, and I avoid it at all costs, hoping I'll find another shlichus (mission). Well, I realized after reading your book that it really doesn't matter if I'm comfortable or not. I have an obligation to help every Jew I can. Who cares if it's awkward for me to hand out candles to a stranger? It's something I am capable of doing, and I have to do it.

Gutman Answers:

     When you feel something is an obligation, you will be sure to do it, but you may not be too happy while you are doing it. When you see what you are doing is a privilege, you begin to open yourself up to the joy that should accompany that deed.

     Going out and telling Jewish girls to light Shabbos candles can very well be an uncomfortable experience, especially if the main reason that you light your own candles is because you feel that you are obligated to light them. But, if you have found the true spiritual joy that should come when you light Shabbos candles, then you will look forward to lighting them yourself, and you will enjoy teaching other girls to reach for that spiritual joy, too.

     A friend of mine decided that since lighting Shabbos candles is only a rabbinical mitzvah, saying the blessing, “G-d commanded us to light Shabbos candles,” was a lie! He even told his wife that she was not to say the blessing when she lighted her candles that week! I explained to him that G-d Himself told us to bring the light of Shabbos into the world. The rabbis just showed us how to begin to bring that holy light into the world by using candles. My friend told his wife to be sure to say the blessing.    

     Lighting Shabbos candles announces the most spiritual time of the week. It brings peace to the home, and it increases the light in the house. If you look at the two flames carefully, you will see that their light is one, much like a husband and wife, two halves making up the one life.

     If you have not yet found your husband, know that candle lighting time is the best time in the world to look for him. After you light your candles, draw the light to your closed eyes, finish the blessing and all of your prayers, and with your eyes still closed, say these words, “Hashem, please give my chosen (bridegroom) a good Shabbos, and let him come to me as soon as we are ready.”

     Stand there with your eyes closed, and feel the love that you have in your heart. After all, even though you do not yet know who he is, he is somewhere in the world, and he is yours. You will probably meet him really soon, and he is going to say, “I don’t know why, but a little while ago my Shabboses got so much better!”

     There is so much to see in this mitzvah. The time of lighting is an etz ratzion (spiritual time of favor). Simply, this means that G-d is listening to your prayers with “both ears.” The children gather to watch, and feel that special feeling of something important happening. The meal is prepared, the house is clean, and the guests are on their way. Can you imagine any nicer way to spend your evening?

    These are the types of things that you should be “handing out on the street,” not just a plastic bag with two candles in it.

    Like any other skill, outreach takes practice. Once you see that, in truth, you are doing it because you really love that girl--even though you never saw her before--your spiritual life will be well on its way.

1 comment:

  1. It's a great spiritual time. But haShem never commanded us to light them. I am not against it as it draws us as a nation together, etc, but it's not a mitzvah from our Father. Adding to the Torah is forbidden, that's a mitzvah, yes, that's from our Father.


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