(Paiting by Dora Holzhandler)
Inyanei Shabbos, Part I
Compiled and annotated by Dovid Sears and Dovid Zeitlin (work in progress). We are grateful to Rabbi Dovid Shapiro for his ongoing contribution to this project.
This collection of minhagim includes many personal minhagim of Rabbi Gedaliah Aharon Kenig, zal, founder of the Tsfas Breslov community, and those of his son Reb Elazar Mordechai Kenig, shlit”a, the community’s mara d’asra today. Other Breslov leaders may differ in their personal minhagim. Those minhagim that do not come from the Rebbe or Reb Noson should not be taken as obligatory, but only as good practices for those who wish to follow them.
On Thursday night, many Breslover Chassidim (among other Chassidim and anshey ma’aseh) are accustomed to learn the commentary of the Ohr ha-Chaim ha-Kadosh. Reb Elazar Kenig is particular to finish the Ohr ha-Chaim on the sedra every week. if he cannot complete it on Thursday night, he usually does so during the course of Shabbos. He once remarked: “The Ohr ha-Chaim ha-Kadosh had enlightened eyes (lechigeh oigen) to perceive what the Torah wants us to know…” Reb Elazar strongly encourages his talmidim to learn Ohr ha-Chaim every week.
(See Imrei Pinchos [Bnei Brak 2003] vol. II, Sha’ar ha-Torah 13-15, where Rabbi Pinchos of Koretz states that studying the Ohr ha-Chaim ha-Kadosh benefits the soul like studying the holy Zohar.)
The Rebbe urged his followers to recite the weekly sedra sh’nayim mikra ve-echad targum on Erev Shabbos specifically. According to one source (although see note below), the Arizal used to do so after chatzos ha-yom (). There is an oral tradition that during his later years, Reb Noson would review the sedra on Erev Shabbos in the morning, soon after Shacharis. When questioned about this, he replied, “Sometimes we can’t do everything like the Arizal.”
(Si’ach Sarfei Kodesh I, 11; II, 535. Reviewing the weekly sedra is mentioned as a hachanah for Shabbos in Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 285. Re. the custom of the Arizal, see Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar Shabbos 3, in the name of “chaveirim,” i.e., disciples of the Arizal other than Rabbi Chaim Vital, that he did so after chatzos. Thus, Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, Hilkhos Shabbos 72:11, states that reviewing the sedra after chatzos ha-yom is the “mitzvah min ha-muvchar.” However, in Sha’ar Hanhagos ha-Limud and Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, Inyan Leyl Shishi, Rabbi Chaim Vital explicitly states that the Arizal used to review the sedra in Erev Shabbos in the morning after Shacharis; also cf. Sha’arei Teshuvah, Orach Chaim 285.)
The Rebbe and Reb Noson mention that on Erev Shabbos one should also be diligent to cut one’s fingernails and dispose of them in an appropriate manner. (Optimally this should be done by burning them, or if that is too difficult, by burying them or washing them down the sink.) Kabbalistically, these practices are related to the tikkun of the klippas nogah (“glowing husk,” in which good and evil are commingled).
(Likutey Moharan I, 19:5; Likutey Tefillos 19; cf. Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 260:1; Rabbi Chaim Vital, Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, Inyan Rechitzas Panav, 64d.)
Some cut their fingernails from left to right, skipping every other finger. One begins with the right hand, in the order 2-4-1-3-5 (although some begin with the thumb, in the order 1-3-5-2-4). Then one cuts the nails of the left hand from left to right, in the reverse order 4-2-5-3-1. It is customary to avoid cutting the nails of two fingers next to each other because this is how one cuts the fingernails of a niftar prior to the taharah (ritual washing).
(See Abudarham, Hilchos Berakhos, end. However, the Arizal rejected this minhag; see Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, Inyan Rechitzas Panav, 64d. The TaSHBaTZ, cited by the TaZ, Orach Chaim 260, s.k. 2, and Magen Avraham, s.k. 1, states that the MaHaRaM of Rottenburg was not particular about this method of cutting the fingernails, either. Rabbi Yosef Karo’s angelic mentor instructed him not to cut his fingernails and toenails on the same day; see Maggid Mesharim [
1960, p. 163]. However, the Arizal would do so. Even those who cut their
fingernails alternately do not cut their toenails in this manner; see Even
ha-Shoham II, 260:14, s.k. 16.) Jerusalem
After chatzos ha-yom, one should wash one’s entire body in hot water and immerse in a mikveh in honor of the Shabbos. After immersing in the mikveh, one should don Shabbos clothes. Reb Noson mentions these preparations in Likutey Tefillos.
(Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 260:1; Rabbi Chaim Vital, Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, Inyan Leyl Shishi [61d]; ibid., Inyan Tevilas Erev Shabbos [62a], citing Zohar, Terumah 136b; Likutey Tefillos I, 19, 96, et al.)
In Reb Gedaliah Kenig’s home, it was customary to light the Shabbos lights with olive oil, not wax or paraffin candles. This is a common minhag in Eretz Yisrael, particularly in Yerushalayim. Many Sefardim and Chassidim outside of Yerushalayim do so, as well. (This is because olive oil was used for the Menorah in the Beis ha-Mikdash, and according to the kabbalists, the Shabbos lights commemorate those of the Menorah.)
Reb Gedaliah stated that one should light many neiros in honor of Shabbos. Reb Elazar’s wife lights two lights for “shamor ve-zakhor,” plus one light for each their children, and a separate bowl of olive oil containing many wicks. Some old Yerushalayimer families light ten small glass bowls of oil placed in a special wire chandelier suspended over the dining table. Reb Gedaliah also told his talmidim that lighting many neiros in honor of Shabbos would be a source of berakhah for their children.
(Heard from Rabbi Dovid Shapiro)
When various tragedies befell our people, rachamana litzlan, Reb Gedaliah would ask his talmidim to light an extra candle in honor of Shabbos. His son, Reb Yitzchak, remembered that when the matzevah of Reb Avraham Sternhartz, zatzal, was defaced, Reb Gedaliah also told everyone to add an extra Shabbos candle as a tikkun for this zilzul chakhomim.
The time when one fixes the wicks for the Shabbos candles is an es ratzon, a time of divine favor. Therefore, while doing so many men pray for their families and for Klal Yisrael. Rabbi Mordekhai Elazar Rubenstein composed a certain prayer that he used to sing while setting up the Shabbos lights.
(Heard from Rabbi Yehoshua Ber Rubenstein)
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender said in the name of Reb Noson that it Breslover women should pray immediately after reciting the blessing over the Shabbos candles: “Just like this, so may the light of our holy Rebbe shine in all the worlds!” In Yiddish: “Azot zohl der heiligeh Rebbe’s ohr liekhten in alleh olamos!”
(Si’ach Sarfei Kodesh II, 631)
Alternatively, Maryasha, the wife of Reb Noson Sternhartz of Yerushalayim (son of Reb Avraham Sternhartz), used to say: “Yehi ratzon az der heiligeh Rebbe’s licht zohl leikhten oif der gantzeh velt . . . May it be HaShem’s will that the light of our holy Rebbe should light up the entire world!” In 1967, when she was approximately ninety years old, Maryasha told Rabbi Eliezer Berland and Rabbi Aharon
(then in his teens) that she received this nusach from her grandmother
Chanah Tzirel, who was Reb Noson’s daughter. Chanah Tzirel used to say this “Yehi
ratzon” out loud, aside from any other tefillos she said quietly by
the Shabbos candles. This seems to have been because she wanted to impress this
upon her children. Berlin
(Heard from Rabbi Aharon
Maryasha Sternhartz was the daughter of Reb Mottel Shochet of Uman, son-in-law of Reb Noson’s son, Reb Nachman; and her mother was Esther Sheindel, daughter of Reb Noson’s only daughter, Chanah Tzirel. Thus, she was a descendant of Reb Noson from every side of her family. Maryasha’s daughter Rivkah was married to Rabbi Michel Dorfman.
(Heard from Rabbi Avraham Shimon Burshteyn)
Reb Noson Sternhartz of Yerushalayim, who was a descendant of Reb Noson from two sides of his family, used to boast, “My wife’s yichus is much greater than mine!”
(Heard from Rabbi Aharon
Rabbi Mordekhai Elazar Rubenstein of Yerushalayim used to sing a variation of this tefillah to a niggun of his own invention when he prepared the Shabbos candles for his wife. The lyrics were: “Ribbono shel olam, helf –- der ohr fun Shabbos, der ohr fun teshuvah, der ohr fun heiligen Rebb’n, zohl arein leichten in mir, un in alleh kinder, un in gantz Klal Yisrael . . . Master of the Universe, help: may the light of Shabbos, the light of teshuvah, the light of the holy Rebbe shine into me, and into all of my children, and into the entire Jewish people…”
(Heard from Rabbi Yehoshua Ber Rubenstein, who stated that his father used to invent niggunim for all of his ‘avodahs, including the daily prayer services and Tikkun Chatzos. Thus, he would sing the words of Torah and tefillah with fervent emotion for many hours, both day and night.)
Reb Noson Sternhartz, son of Reb Avraham, once related the following anecdote to Rabbi Moshe Bienenstock: His grandmother Chanah Tzirel said that her father, Reb Noson, once entered their little kitchen on Friday, while the women were preparing food for Shabbos. He told them: “You should know that the cooking you do in honor of the Shabbos is comparable to the work that the Kohanim performed to prepare the korbonos in the Beis ha-Mikdosh!”
(Heard from Rabbi Moshe Bienenstock)
Reb Gedaliah was particular about the custom of the Arizal to refrain from wearing black garments on Shabbos. Therefore, his sons, many of his talmidim, and most members of the Tzefas community wear golden caftans, which is the minhag Yerushalayim; or at shaloshudes (as well as when visiting chutz la’aretz), they wear tisch bekitchehs embroidered with blue, etc.
(Rabbi Yosef Chaim of
Ben Ish Chai: Halakhos II, Lekh Lekha, 18, cites Rabbi Chaim
Vital, Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, Inyan Rechitzah, 63a-b, that one should wear
only white garments on Shabbos. However, the Ben Ish Chai adds that at
least one should not wear black. According to the Arizal, the color of
the garments one wears on Shabbos in this world determines the color of the
spiritual garments that the neshamah will wear in the World of Souls;
also cf. Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar ha-Shabbos, ch. 4. The Baal Shem Tov and
his followers wore white clothes on Shabbos; e.g. see Shivchei Baal
Shem Tov [Rubenstein ed.], 6. Although this custom fell into disuse, a few Chassidic
Rebbes continued to do so, even until today; see Shulchan ha-Tahor, Hil.
Shabbos 262:8; Zohar Chai, Vayeishev, 182b; Darchei Chaim
vi-Shalom [Munkatch], Seder Erev Shabbos, 365; Divrei Torah 141:79;
Likutey MaHaRiCH, Hanhagos Erev Shabbos, p. 315. Many Sefardic
Kabbalists dress entirely in white on Shabbos. For the source of this custom in
the Gemara, see Shabbos 25b, 114a, 119a; Bava Kama 49b, with Tosefos;
Kiddushin 73a. The Rebbe discusses white garments in Likutey Moharan
I, 29:3.) Baghdad
Nevertheless, Reb Gedaliah did not tell people to change their levush. Therefore, some talmidim did not emulate their teacher’s mode of dress, but merely avoided wearing black clothing on Shabbos. This was particularly true of his talmidim in
Moreover, during Reb Gedaliah’s younger years, many Chassidim in Yerushalayim
wore tish beketches with some color in them. The custom of wearing
entirely black did not become widespread in Yerushalayim until they started
importing ready-made Chassidic clothes from America . This is true of dressing
entirely in black on weekdays, as well. America
(Heard from Rabbi Dovid Shapiro)
In former times, most Breslover Chassidim did not wear a shtreimel on Shabbos, probably because of poverty rather than any shittah not to do so. (Reb Noson writes to one of his sons that he plans to buy him a “good shtreimel and a new hat” for his chasunah, even though Reb Noson himself wore only a hat on Shabbos). Another likely reason is that during the 19th century, the Russian government imposed restrictions on Jewish garb, including who was permitted to wear a shtreimel. However, today most Breslover Chassidim wear shtreimlach.
(Re. Reb Noson’s letter, see Alim le-Terufah [Toras Ha-Netzach ed. 2000] no. 402)
Reb Gedaliah was very strict with himself concerning Shabbos clothes, which are an expression of honoring the Shabbos. Once he was caught in the rain on Shabbos but would not remove his shtreimel, even though he was a poor man and the costly shtreimel would be damaged by the rain.
(Heard from Rabbi
Similarly, Darkei Chaim ve-Shalom
366, states that while visiting certain health spas, the Minchas Elazar would
not remove his shtreimel even when compelled to leave the premises on
Shabbos in order to immerse, and there was reason to be concerned about
anti-Semitic gentile neighbors.) Chaim Man.
It is a widespread Chassidic custom to wear a zhvulkeh (also called a resh-zhvulkeh), a black satin dress coat, over one’s bekitcheh on Friday night. In Yerushalayim, many Chassidim wear a djebey, a brown satin outer garment, over their golden caftans. Reb Elazar’s custom, which many members of the Tzefas community also follow, is to wear a golden caftan with a long, dark blue suit jacket (rekel), draped over his shoulders. Many Galitzianer and Hungarian Rebbes wear a talis on Friday night (although this was not common practice among Russian Chassidim). All of these customs seem to be variations on the concept that on Shabbos one receives an extra spiritual garment, or “ohr makif.”
(See Siddur ARI/Rav Shabsai, Kavannos Kabbalas Shabbos; Darkei Chaim vi-Shalom [Munkatch] 368; Divrei Torah I, 59; et al.)
Reb Gedaliah wore a gray rekel over his caftan on Shabbos. Reb Dovid Shapiro mentioned that this was once a common custom in Yerushalayim. Certain Sefardic mekubalim still wear gray on Shabbos, too.
(Heard from Rabbi Dovid Shapiro. Cf. Chayei Moharan 525, that the Rebbe once wore a gray zhibitzel, another type of outer garment.)
However, the main point is not to wear black clothing, including one’s outer garment. According to the minhag Yerushalayim, the only times when this is proper is at one’s chasunah and on Yom Kippur, when one wears a black rekel and a kittel or white caftan (see “Chasunah” in Part I and “Yom Kippur” below).
(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchak Kenig)
Reb Gedaliah wore his outer garment draped over his right shoulder, with the left arm uncovered, both by night and by day. This Yerushalayimer minhag is an expression of kavod toward the Tefillin, which we do not wear on Shabbos. Some drape the outer garment over both shoulders (since the sleeves are usually not wide enough to be worn in the usual manner).
(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchak Kenig)
As an expression of kavod Shabbos, Chassidim in general do not remove their jackets at the Shabbos table. Reb Elazar Kenig does not remove his shtreimel, either. However, Reb Elazar has told his talmidim that this is a hiddur that one need not take on until he feels ready to do so.
Reb Gedaliah wore his light-colored Shabbos caftan all day long, including at the Shaloshudes meal.
Most Breslover women in Yerushalayim and Tsfas wear colored kerchiefs (tichlach) both during the week and on Shabbos. However, some Sefardic Breslover women wear white kerchiefs in honor of the Shabbos. (So do women in certain Hungarian Chassidic communities, such as Toldos Aharon in Yerushalayim.)
Reb Gedaliah was usually lenient about carrying within a public eruv. This evidently reflected his strong belief in heeding the local Beis Din, as well as in both the practical and spiritual advantages of eiruvin. This was also the prevailing attitude toward eiruvin in Yerushalayim, where Reb Gedaliah lived.
The Rebbe was not machmir about Jews saving their property on Shabbos during a fire, Hashem yishmor, and allowed them to retrieve whatever they could according to the lenient opinions mentioned in Shulchan Arukh and Poskim.
(Chayei Moharan 547. These leniencies and their applications are found in Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 334:1-2; Be’er ha-Golah, ad loc., citing Tosefos and Tur, et al.)