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Friday, 28 August 2015

Leftover Cholent Diet

Daf Yomi Nazir 6

How much of a cholent person are you?  Some people can eat cholent all week.  When we were in yeshiva, there was a cholent truck that would come by on Thursday evenings.   The bochurim (yeshiva boys) devoured the contents of the truck as their souls yearned for the start of the holy day.  When I worked for an insurance firm in Brooklyn, Friday lunch was on the house – cholent, kugel and Diet Coke!  But the greatest cholent-eater I ever met was a lovely old lady called Maria who used to babysit our Joey.  Monday morning she would show up for work and clean the house.  At the end of the day, she would leave with her little package of our leftover Shabbos cholent – she just loved the stuff! 

Concerning the nazir, the Torah declares, “All the days of his nazirite oath, no blade may pass over his head, until the completion of the days that he swore nazirism to G-d, he shall be holy, growing wild the hair of his head.”

From the expression “until the completion of the days,” I would assume the minimum number of days is two.  Therefore the verse states, “he shall be holy growing his hair.”  Hair doesn’t grow significantly less than thirty days, according to Rabbi Yoshia. 
Rebbe avers that this derivation is unnecessary.  The verse states, “until the completion of the days.”  What are such days that require completion?  Thirty.
Rashi explains: A lunar month contains 29 ½ days, thus often requiring completion to reach thirty.

The Gemara asks: How about Shabbos?
Rashi explains: An oath of nazirism with no mention of term should perhaps be a week, since there are six days and along comes Shabbos and fills it.
Tosfos clarifies: Shabbos fills up the week.

Shabbos doesn’t just complete the week; Shabbos fills up the week.  Every day of the week is infused by Shabbos.  Our Sages tell us that the first three days of the week are infused with the energy of the previous Shabbos – that’s why you can make Havdala all the way up until Tuesday!  From Wednesday on, we are in prep mode for the upcoming Shabbos – that’s why the Song of the Day in the daily Shacharis prayer for Wednesday concludes with a couple of verses from Kabbalat Shabbat!

Each weekday should revolve around Shabbos.   The great Shamai would eat Shabbos food every day of the week.  That doesn’t mean he was eating cholent leftovers all week!  On Sunday he would go to the market and choose a piece of gefitle fish for the upcoming Shabbos.  On Monday, he would head out again, often finding a nicer piece of fish; he would then designate that new piece for Shabbos.  And so Monday evening, he ate the fish he had purchased the previous day, now no longer needing to hang onto it (good thing too, without refrigeration, who knows how it would have tasted six days later?!).  On Tuesday, he would head out and find an even nicer shtikel (piece) and Monday’s Shabbos fish would now become Tuesday’s dinner.  And so on and so forth, every day, he would be eating Shabbos food!

Of course, it doesn’t just go for fish.  When your week revolves around Shabbos, everything becomes energized by the spirituality of the holy day.  That’s why in fact every day in the Song of the Day, we say, “Today is the first day of Shabbos; Today is the second day of Shabbos.”   When every day of the week is infused by Shabbos, you are living an eternal Heavenly existence.

But you can only live a Shabbos existence throughout the week if your actual Shabbos is awesome and worth longing for.  How does your Shabbos look?  Stress-free?  Quality family time?  Quality Torah and tefillah (prayer) time?  Good food and relaxation?

I’m not sure about the theory that you don’t put on weight on Shabbos – they say that all the excess food is consumed by your neshomo yesaira, the additional Shabbos soul.  But I do know that when you watch what you eat all week and then relax your diet one day a week, that works.  I feel bad for people who don’t have Shabbos – when do they get to break their diets?  When they do, they’ll often binge and end up dropping out of their diet regimes.  When you know that you have a mitzvah to eat one day a week, suddenly your whole week is a positive experience, knowing that Shabbos is right around the corner!

Infuse your week with Shabbos!  When your week revolves around Shabbos, suddenly everything is uplifted.  May you merit a Shabbos-filled week and living an eternally Heavenly existence!

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