Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Shabbos Tablecloth

Everyday we are supposed to remember that we came out of Mitzrayim (Egypt). Everyday we are to consider as if we ourselves were taken out of Egypt, out of our particular slavery or bondage.

There is one day of the week that is a complete reminder of this. A day when all Jews are equal, no matter if you are a professor, doctor or other highly qualified person. No matter if you clean houses or streets or do some menial work. On Shabbos, all Jews are equal, putting aside the work of the week and focusing on acknowledging our Creator and that in 6 days He created the world and on the 7th day He rested.

One of the many events to take place during our 40 years in the midbar, the desert, was our contributing towards and constructing the Mishkan. There were many items that were created to be placed in the Mishkan, each of which had a special significance. These same items were later used in the Temple and will again be used when our Third and Final Temple is re-built.

One of the items was the Mizbayach or Altar, which had very special significance. It is here that we offered up our sacrifices to Hashem which in turn gave us atonement. Every sacrifice had to be offered up together with salt, hence the reason why we dip our bread in salt before eating it.

In today’s time, since we are without our Holy Temple, the table, that we place our food on to eat from, replaces the Altar. There are various teachings regarding the table and respecting it. However, when we prepare for Shabbos, the table in every Jewish home is typically adorned so as to be fitting to serve a feast for a king. It is customary to use a beautiful white table cloth to cover the table, the white representing purity, kindness and Chessed.

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