Character Development

How Can We Attain Oneg (Enjoyment of) Shabbat?

It’s well known that the evil inclination quite often has run of the day on Friday when preparing for Shabbat. People’s anger flares up like fire and a normally peaceful house the rest of the week will suddenly turn into a warzone when people shout with uncontrolled rage at each other.

A wise person prepares ahead and therefore he should be very careful not to get angry on Fridays, having in mind Oneg Shabbat amongst other good things when a person refrains from anger. Even if you stumble it’s not too late. Go to your spouse or other family member you offended and ask for forgiveness and make up with one another even before Shabbat, the sooner the better!

When G-d sees a home where people forgive one another and forego their natural tendencies, inspite of their desire to bear a grudge or stay angry G-d forbid, G-d then overlooks their sins against Him, measure for measure.

The Mitzvah of Oneg Shabbat, enjoying the Shabbat is very important and precious, so a person should be careful to avoid things that would spoil that enjoyment, making him upset or angry. He should not be strict with anyone rather he should fortify himself with tolerance in order to enter into Sabbath happy with a glad heart.

We all put much effort into preparing in honor of Shabbat cooking and cleaning for many hours, preparing both physically and spiritually. What kind of flavor will Shabbat have if we go into it with a heavy heart and sour expression on our faces with never ending complaints and harsh words that pollute the rarified atmosphere of Shabbat? If the love of a couple sours because of this, what kind of Shabbat will they have if they can’t enjoy it?

That is why the sages warned that true domestic harmony can’t happen by itself rather each spouse must work on his/herself and make the utmost effort to be silent during a dispute. The sages interpret the verse, ‘suspending the world on naught’-‘Blima’to mean that whoever closes his mouth (“bolem” peh meaning closing the mouth is similar to “blima”) during a fight, holds up the world with both hands preventing it from falling.  

So how do we attain true peace in the house? The first thing is to adopt these general rules which apply to people in general, all the more so to your spouse.  

  • Judge your spouse favorably.
  • Learn the plusses of tolerance and the minuses of the sin of anger.
  • Don’t spill all your thoughts or feelings out.
  • Learn to receive (criticism) without returning in kind. The way to do this is to make an accounting with G-d that any pain you experience has a reason and cause that G-d knows.
  • To look at your spouse with a positive eye appreciating their good qualities and the good things they do for us.
  • To speak pleasantly with one another.
  • To learn the laws of “Lashon Hara” evil speech.

Let’s conclude with the story brought down in the Talmud (Gittin 52a) about a couple that fought every Friday and would come into Shabbat with a fallen countenance and were unable to enjoy the Shabbat. Rabbi Meir came to their house three Fridays in a row and out of respect for him they held back and did not fight with one another for those three weeks. After those three Fridays, Rabbi Meir heard the voice of the Satan saying; “woe is to me that Rabbi Meir took me out of this couple’s home”! The sages learned from here how important it is to avoid argument and strife in the home.

A Segulah (spiritual remedy) for true peace in the home isthat both the husband and the wife should recite Psalm 119 choosing the letters of “peace in the house”,  ש ל ו ם ב י ת. Psalm 119 has every letter of the Hebrew Alef bet, letter by letter for 8 consecutive verses. You can choose the verses beginning with the aforementioned letters and pray for family peace and harmony.


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