After a traditional Jewish wedding, the celebration continues for the next seven days. For the next six nights family or friends host beautiful Sheva Brochos meals. Sheva Brochos means seven blessings because seven blessings are recited after Grace after Meals over a cup of wine in honor of the Choson and Kalah – bride and groom.

Although most people almost immediately after their wedding jet off alone on a honeymoon, our tradition is that for a week following their marriage they attend Sheva Brochos in their honor. This gives the opportunity for family members and friends from both sides to speak about the virtues of the Choson and Kalah. It also gives family members a chance to speak about their ancestors and their sacrifice for Judaism, for family and community. This acquaints the couple and those gathered with what the families are all about.

I’ll share something I became aware of during one of our Sheva Brochos. My wife’s great uncle Mr. Marcus Arnold was asked by my father-in-law to speak. Uncle Marcus was a delightful man. He was articulate, humorous, and very passionate about Yiddishkeit and Family. He shared the following story about my wife’s maternal grandfather Mr. Harry Hisiger o.b.m.

Harry Hisiger together with his wife Sophie were a dynamic couple. Harry Hisiger was a motivator and he inspired the Jewish youth of his neighborhood in the East New York section of Brooklyn to get involved with Shul and to attend Jewish Schools. He was also passionate about spreading sensitivity toward the observance of Shabbos to the local stores owned by Jews that were open on Shabbos.

During the 1930’s, after services on Shabbos, Harry, together with a group of friends, would walk the bustling Blake Avenue and go from store to store, pushcart to pushcart, and talk to the Jewish owners about closing in honor of Shabbos. These proprietors were open seven days a week and really wished for a day off, however, their concern was that their competitors would remain open and they would lose customers. Harry and his group were able convince, not only the Jewish owners, but the non-Jewish owners as well to close their stores on Shabbos. Their efforts proved successful and the three block stretch of the Blake Ave business district slowly but surely closed down on Shabbos. These stores remained closed on Shabbos for many years until the Jews moved out of the neighborhood.

Uncle Marcus gave us this background and then he shared the following. During one of their Shabbos missions to imbue the spirit of Shabbos, things did not work out so pleasantly. Apparently, an owner of an appetizing store became incensed at the group and he came charging at them wielding a large fish knife! Understandably, the group stepped back. Everyone, except the man at the lead, Mr. Harry Hisiger who didn’t flinch. Without anything to defend himself other than his desire to promote the sanctity of Shabbos he stood up to the man with the knife! Seeing the tenacity of Harry, the man backed off.

On another occasion, this same business owner approached Harry Hisiger and threw a punch at him. Harry, who was short and quick to react, ducked…but unfortunately the man standing behind him, Mr. Yosef Shechter, wasn’t as lucky; he became the recipient of the person’s fist.

Needless to say, after hearing this story about the patriarch of my wife’s family, I had additional appreciation for the devotion to Yiddishkeit of the family I joined, and I felt it was a great Zechus/merit to become part of this family!

Our Parsha describes the work that was necessary to construct the Mishkan – tabernacle. Moshe appointed as chief architect, the young Betzalel, who was infused by G-d with knowledge of every aspect of its construction, as well as deep mystical wisdom necessary to create G-d’s abode on this world.

Although there was much holiness imbued in the Tabernacle’s creation, G-d commanded that any part of its construction was forbidden on Shabbos. Our Sages derive the 39 forbidden categories of creative activities that we are to abstain from on Shabbos from the work that was necessary for the Temple’s construction.

On might ask, why are the laws of Shabbos so strict?

Within our Shabbos prayers, we recite verses taken from the Torah regarding the sanctity of Shabbos. One of the verses states, “Between Me and the Children of Israel Shabbos is a sign L’Olam – forever – that in six days G-d made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day, He rested and was refreshed.”

Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin o.b.m. expounds on the words, “Between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign l’Olam.” He explains that the word L’Olam can be translated as “forever”, and it can also mean, “to the world.”

Based on translating L’Olam to mean, “to the world,” which includes non-Jews, he explains that the verse is telling us that when non-Jews see us keeping and observing the laws of Shabbos, it is a sign and indication to all people in the world that, “In six days G-d made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day, He rested and was refreshed.”

Thus, besides our unique connection to G-d through His gift of the holy Shabbos that was given specifically to us, our observance serves to raise G-d’s honor throughout the world by proclaiming that He is creator of heaven and earth. Our responsibility in regards to upholding the sanctity of Shabbos therefore requires us to proudly demonstrate our observance of Shabbos!