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"See that Hashem has given you the Shabbos; that is why He gives you on the sixth day a two-day portion of bread" (Shemos 16:29).

Rabbi Yechiel Perr, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Derech Ayson, of Far Rockaway, once told me the following story (Rabbi Perr is a stickler for accurate details, and I apologize that I do not remember them).

Once a week, the Rabbi gave a class in Chumash (Bible) to working people ("bahle batim"). There was a fellow who attended regularly and listened to the lessons very attentively. One week, after the class, the man approached Rabbi Perr and discussed a problem with him.

"Rabbi," he began, "I've been attending your classes for some time now, and I'm fascinated by the truth of the Torah. Little by little, I've become more and more religious and I've been influencing my family to be so too. But now I'm facing a major dilemma. I run a camera shop and the busiest day of the week is Saturday. In fact, I could definitely say that I earn almost my entire livelihood on that day. Now I know that I mustn't work on Shabbos but I just cannot see myself closing the store on Saturdays. It's simply impossible. I was wondering whether you could advise me on the matter. You are so smart and always seem to have the right answers which help people so much."

Rabbi Perr was perplexed. He saw the sincerity in this man's newly found direction in life. Yet he understood his problem too. He was not yet strong enough in his belief and trust in Hashem to do what was required of him. But surely the Rabbi had no heter (dispensation) which he could give him to continue working on Shabbos. After much deliberation, he responded.

"My dear friend, listen to me," the Rabbi began. "I respect you very much for your commitment to Judaism and the great strides you have been making. I would love to help you, but, although I fully understand your plight, I really can't. There is no way that I can tell you that it's ok to continue working on Shabbos. But you insist that you have absolutely no choice. The only thing I can advise you is to 'work it out with Hashem'. Go into a corner and speak to Him. Explain to Him your desire to be totally religious, describe your problem, and ask for His help in accomplishing your goal. If you are sincere, I'm sure Hashem will answer your prayer."

The fellow thanked the Rabbi for his time and continued attending the shiurim (lessons). About six months later, Rabbi Perr was teaching parashas Beshalach and discussed the passage, "See that Hashem has given you the Shabbos; that is why He gives you on the sixth day a two-day portion of bread." The Rabbi asked why Moshe Rabbeinu used the term "see" for something that is intangible. Wouldn't it make more sense to say "believe" or "know" or "understand" or something like that?

Rabbi Perr explained that the Torah is teaching us that the blessing of the Shabbos is not something we must simply believe in. On the contrary, we can actually see it in our own lives, no less than we are able to perceive any tangible object. Hashem gives ample parnassah (sustenance) during the week, "a two-day portion of bread," to those who observe the Shabbos properly.

One of the members of the class objected to this explanation arguing that it didn't make sense that Shabbos was something which could be seen. Perhaps the spirituality and the tranquility of the day could be felt but certainly not seen.

Rabbi Perr was about to defend his interpretation when, suddenly, the previous fellow asked if he could respond instead. Quite surprised at the suggestion, the Rabbi gave him permission nevertheless. The gentleman began to explain.

"Rabbi," he began, "do you remember, about half a year ago, when I came to you with a problem about keeping Shabbos?" The Rabbi replied that he certainly did.

"Well, I never told you the end of the story," the fellow continued. "I took your advice and went to 'work it out' with Hashem. But I realized that if I wanted to be honest, there was not much I could really 'work out' after all. I just had to do what Hashem commanded me to. So I prayed for Divine Assistance and I closed the store."

"And what happened?" asked Rabbi Perr with great interest.

"Rabbi," replied the man excitedly, "it's really unbelievable. I can show you in my accounting books that I don't make any less now than I used to when I was open on Saturday. As a matter of fact, my profits have even increased a bit."

Rabbi Perr asked if there were any natural explanation he could present. Had more people begun coming on a different day since he was closed on Saturday? Had he begun selling a popular new camera or something similar?

"No, Rabbi. I cannot point to any specific change in the business. I can only show you my profit sheets which will bear witness to what you just taught us." Turning to the questioning student, he concluded, "My friend, the Rabbi's explanation is absolutely true. The Torah does not only demand that we believe in Shabbos. The Torah guarantees that we can actually see its blessing. As we just read, "See that Hashem has given you the Shabbos; that is why He gives you on the sixth day a two-day portion of bread!"

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel