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Mesilat Yesharim: Honoring the Mitzvot

Based on a shiur by Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen

The Mesilat Yesharim writes that yirah (fear) and ahavah (love) are two basic foundations of chassidut. Yirat Hashem connotes not only fear of Hashem as it relates to punishment but yirat haromemut, seeing the greatness of Hashem in this world. Honoring and beautifying the mitzvot demonstrates one’s yirat and ahavat Hashem.   

The Mesilat Yesharim discusses honoring Shabbbat  and Yom tov. There are 39 melochot that are forbidden on Shabbat. They are based on the work that Bnei Yisrael did when they built the mishkan.

There is an additional aspect of “V’shamru bnei Yisrael et haShabbat lasot et haShabbat.” How does one make the Shabbat if the kedusha (sanctity) of the day comes on its own?  The Mesilat Yesharim tells us we can do so by personally involving ourselves in the preparation. This is kavod Shabbat. The Gemara in Shabbat tells how Rav Avuhu would sit on an ivory stool and fan the fire, Rava salted fish, Rav Huna lit candles erev Shabbat. Rav Papa made wicks for the candles, Rav Chisda would cut beets, Rabi and Rav Yosef would chop wood, and Rav Nachman would carry bundles of necessities in and out of the home before Shabbat. What is the Gemara and Mesilat Yesharim teling us? When it comes to Shabbat one should not rely on hired help or one’s wife but one should prepare oneself. A person cannot do this obligation by appointing an agent. Kavod Shabbat is a mitzvah sh’begufo that one must personally perform.

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