Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Halacha: Preparing for Shabbat vs. Learning Torah

Rav Turetsky

The Ben Yehoyadah (Brachot 63a) describes the incredible power of learning Torah on Erev Shabbat. It is specifically when few people are learning that Torah study is especially valued.[1]

Rama (O.C. 251:2), though, writes based on the Talmud Yerushalmi that one should learn less on Erev Shabbat in order to have more time to prepare for Shabbat.[2] For that reason, Mishna Berurah (ad loc:8) writes that the practice in some places is to avoid establishing Yeshiva on Fridays.

The Poskim note several exceptions to Rama’s ruling.

  1. Mishna Berurah (ad loc:9) writes that if someone else is already tending to your Shabbat needs, such as the case with a housekeeper, one could continue learning as usual. Similarly, he writes that one could continue learning if Shabbat preparations were already completed on Thursday.[3]
  2. Mishna Berurah (ad loc:8) quotes Seder HaYom that permits one to learn if he is either teaching others or if the learning is limited to a specific amount.[4] In such a case, there’s little concern one will learn so long that he will be unable to prepare for Shabbat. 

Despite these possible exceptions, Mishna Berurah (ibid) writes that one should make sure to engage in some form of active preparation for Shabbat.[5] This is based on the Talmud’s comment (Kiddushin 41a) that it is better to do a mitzvah oneself than fulfill it through a messenger. As indicated by the Talmud and confirmed by Mishna Berurah (250:4), even great Torah scholars would involve themselves in certain Shabbat preparations.[6]

May we be Zoche to effectively prepare for Shabbat!

[1] See, as well, Rav Moshe Tzuriel (Otzrot HaMussar 2:802).
[2] Biur Halacha (ad loc) notes that Yerushalmi may not be a relevant source for Rama’s ruling. Still, he writes that Rama is correct that one should learn less on Erev Shabbat to have more time to prepare for Shabbat.
[3] See our previous blog post regarding Shabbat preparations on Friday.
[4] See inside regarding learning Shnayim Mikra.
[5] Shemirat Shabbat KiHilchata (42: note 195) cites Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurebach that while one should ideally do a lot to prepare for Shabbat, one who is learning or performing other mitzvot should perform at least one action for Shabbat.
[6] See Biur Halacha (250) for several relevant discussions.

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