My wife and I have always desired to have everything ready for Shabbos before candle lighting time. The serenity and peace of mind that comes with having all your work finished and standing ready to greet the majestic Shabbos queen is an experience that is indescribable. The anticipation that a Jew should have for Shabbos should be comparable to the anticipation that a person has for a beloved spouse that has been away for the entire week. The mere mention of Shabbos should fill us with such excitement that we should have to refrain ourselves from bringing in Shabbos too early.
However, even though the above is an ideal, it has rarely or if ever come to implementation for us. There are many distractions that can interfere with our Shabbos preparations. On a short winter day, just getting back from work before candle lighting is a struggle. A person in these situations can easily G-D forbid have negative reservations regarding preparing for the Shabbos.
This is unfortunately how our Erev Shabbos has been for quite some time. With my wife and I working and studying full time, Erev Shabbos became particularly stressful. Things got exceedingly more difficult after we had our first baby. Before we were able to split up the jobs. Now, just taking care of the baby is a full job! With all of this and more, it became a frequent occurrence that my wife would end up lighting the Shabbos candles during the 18 minute period.
Recently, we decided that enough was enough. We were finally going to make a resolution to bring in Shabbos on time. The following is the advice we received regarding this matter which has helped us immensely and we hope it will have the same affect on you. “Start your Shabbos preparations on Wednesday”. This concept is founded in Hayom Yom for the 23rd of Kislev. “The preparations for Shabbos begin on Wednesday, and are heralded by the brief Lechu Neranenah, the three.” If a person starts his Shabbos preparations on Wednesday, then Erev Shabbos wouldn’t be so pressured and they would be in the right frame of mind to receive the gift of Shabbos.
So, my wife and I took this advice to heart and made an action plan. On Wednesday, we would a) make a menu of all the things we would be cooking for Shabbos. b) make a list of jobs that needed to be done before bringing in Shabbos. c) Thursday morning, we would buy all the food that needed to be made for the meals. d) Thursday night would designated for cooking, cleaning etc. e) Friday would be designated to finish off the last preparations.
Ever since we started this routine two weeks ago, our Shabbos preparations have never much smoother. I encourage all those who are reading this article to try out this routine for themselves to enjoy a more peaceful and blessed Shabbos. The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 25:12) says that if the Jewish people will keep one Shabbos properly, Moshiach will immediately come.” May it be the will of Hashem, that through the keeping of Shabbos with the right enthusiasm, we will merit the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.