The Rabbi of my shul gave an amazing drasha before Yizkor urging us to return to a more simpler time of Yiddishkeit. He quoted (as he often does) Rav Soloveitchik from R Peli’s On Repentance:
“Please allow me to make a ‘private confession’ concerning a matter that has caused me much loss of sleep… I still remember- it was not so long ago- when Jews were still close to God and lived in an atmosphere pervaded with holiness. But today, what do we see? The profane and the secular are in control everywhere we turn.
Even in those neighborhoods made up predominantly of religious Jews, one can no longer talk of the ‘sanctity of Shabbat.’ True, there are Jews in America who observe Shabbath. The label ‘Sabbath obverver” has come to be used as a title of honor in our circles just like HaRav HaGaon neither really indicate anything and both testify to the lowly state of our generation. But it is not for Shabbath that my heart aches; it is for the forgotten ‘erev Shabbath’ . There are Shabbat-observing Jews in America, but there are no ‘erev Shabbath’ Jews who go out to greet Shabbat with beating hearts and pulsating souls. There are many who observe the precepts with their hands, with their feet, and/or with their mouths – but there are few indeed who truly know the meaning of the service of the heart!” (On Repentance, pp. 97-98)
I know that we try to, at least, put the Shabbos table cloth on Thursday night (sometimes). My kids know that when we go shopping during the week I’ll say that we’re buying things “L’kavod Erev Shabbos Kodesh”. We know that Shabbos “is coming”, but I’m not sure if I’m ready, on any given week, to actually greet Shabbos. I need to do more. As the Rav explains, we need to yearn for erev Shabbos and “truly know the meaning of the service of the heart”. Simchas HaChaim and Toras Chaim need to be more that buzzwords in my on vocabulary,they need to be lived. Lately I’m not so sure that has been the case. Today is a new day, though. I just davened all day to be sealed in the “Book of Life”, a life full of Torah, Avodah, and Ge’limus Chassidim and that excites me!
A good Erev Shabbos Kodesh!