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Shabbat Parashat Shelach 5775

Ein Ayah: For Everything a Time

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:31)

Gemara: Rav Yosef’s wife would light her Shabbat candles relatively close to sunset. Rav Yosef said to her: It is said in a baraita about the pasuk “The pillar of cloud would not be removed during the day, neither would the pillar of fire in the night” (Shemot 13:22) – this teaches us that the pillar of cloud would be added on along with the pillar of fire, and the pillar of fire would be added on along with the pillar of cloud. She thought that she should, then, light particularly early. A certain old man told her that it is written in a baraita: “As long as one does not light too early or too late.”


Ein Ayah: The light of Shabbat gives light and pleasure and increases peace and sanctity, as it awakens the heart to the light of Torah, which flows from the spring of holy belief in the power of Hashem. These are things which Israel acquires in their hearts through the sanctity of Shabbat. This light also hints at the great light that will illuminate every dark spot with Hashem’s light and honor when the Land will be filled with knowledge of Hashem during the era in which days will all be like Shabbat.

The broadening of the knowledge of Torah and of Hashem prepares the hearts of those who are fit to receive the light in the future. Since everything has its time, it is important to internalize that things work out that much better when they occur at their appointed time. The special light, when it will come at the time when the world is fit to benefit from such a bright light, will be very effective and will bring people close to Hashem’s light, goodness, and truth. If someone will make a special effort to have it shine before its time, it will not be a blessing because few people will be able to withstand it. It will actually cause people to be damaged and make mistakes, as it will create a darkness of sorts.

It is important to realize that opposites are connected to each other and focus on a true light that Hashem prepared to be uncovered at the correct time. Therefore, one should not think that light has no place in the period before the great light. Actually, that period of darkness helps pave the way for the light. A pillar of cloud brings a certain amount of darkness. And this causes the pillar of fire to illuminate significantly.

Similarly, there are actions in the realms of knowledge, justice, and love and fear of Hashem that are made possible specifically by darkness. These are not intrinsically positive actions but those that pave the way for positive things in the future, in an up-and-down pattern that Hashem arranges. That is why the pillar of cloud is added to the pillar of fire and the pillar of fire is added to the pillar of cloud.

There is a parallel relationship between weekday and Shabbat. It is important to show that Shabbat has a connection to weekdays. Shabbat impacts on the week, and the week actually impacts on Shabbat, as the week allows Shabbat to stand out as special. Delaying the lighting of Shabbat candles until close to sunset would indicate that there is no connection between the light of Shabbat and weekday. This is a false message, as weekdays were made to help prepare us for the light of Shabbat. That is why we make sure to light candles while it is still light outside, just as the fire in the desert arrived during the day, when the cloud was still functioning. This shows their harmonious interaction.

On the other hand, it is not good to light the Shabbat candles too early. This shows that the light comes later because that is the proper time for it to appear. Something that adds so much goodness at the right time will not be helpful at the wrong time. “There is a time for every endeavor” (Kohelet 3:17). That is why one should neither light candles too early nor too late.  

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