Tested by Spiders

Nov 11th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Shabbat Struggles

I only notice them on Shabbat, up toward the ceiling; spiders. There’s nothing I can do about them because of Shabbat. I may not kill them, or even trap them to move them outside. I may not even plan to kill them after Shabbat, because one may not plan on Shabbat to do something that is forbidden on Shabbat.

I suspect that these spiders have spent so much time in the house listening to shiurim that they are experts in the laws of Shabbat. The spiders disappear immediately after Havdalah. They know that they are perfectly safe from me on Shabbat and Jewish festivals; yes, they also come out on those days, although, they avoid the living room on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur where we hold services. The spiders in my house are familiar with Halachah, respectful of prayer, and committed to test my observance.

I could, of course, determine that they are poisonous, finding justification to trap them, but they remain in one place all day and pose no threat. Perhaps they know even more Jewish law than I suspect. How sad that my biggest temptation to violate Shabbat has to do with spiders! The real test is not even the desire to kill them, but how they occupy my mind all day, disturb my peace. I have trouble maintaining my concentration for 25 hours because of tiny, albeit smart, spiders. I wonder how Abraham remained focused for 72 hours while headed to Moriah to offer Isaac to God.  The Midrash describes Satan as appearing as a huge river on the way, but I suspect that it was not a huge hindrance, but a series of minor distractions along the way, something such as, well, spiders. Abraham managed his spiders much better than do I.

Satan’s distractions were not intended to stop Abraham from offering Isaac, but from being able to make every moment of the three day trip part of the offering. I can attend prayers, properly celebrate the Shabbat meals, and still have hours of non-Shabbat, distracted from the nature of the day. You see, even when I am frustrated by spiders, I am thinking about Shabbat; how to apply her laws to the situation. The challenge is to focus even the most trivial concerns around Shabbat. Abraham could have remained in contact with his financial advisor even while traveling to Moriah, but he left his iPhone at home. He wanted to use every moment of the trip as part of his offering.

We tend to think of the Evil Inclination’s challenges as huge rivers and mountains and forget that he will take advantage of our concern for the big tests to distract us in small ways…with spiders.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

  • Share/Bookmark


  • moshe stepansky

    One Simkhat Torah nite at The Carlebach Shul in the middle of dancing with the Torah a fellow walks in with a monkey perched on his shoulder.
    Not what you would call a natural occurrence, but at The Carlebach Shul stranger things were known to happen.

    Before the next ‘hakafah’ R’ Shlomo got up to address the crowd, as was his wont before each hakafa: “I know what we think of the monkey, but I wonder what the monkey thinks of us!!!”

  • moshe stepansky

    Here in Tsfat,the Holy Spiders in our house are gracious enough enough to let us share their space.

  • Rebbe, after reading your inspiring blog about SPIDERS ( a creature i have always detested)….i am reminded of a memory from my childhood about my very own shabos spider! i recall eating with my family in our dinning room during the Shabos seudah. In the middle of the meal i looked up to see a tiny spider taking a long walk from one end of the dinning room to the other. I made a mental note to “take care of it after Shabos” (or have someone else “take care of it”)since i don’t like them very much. (an understatement!!)
    I remember looking for the spider after Shabos and not finding it. Lucky spider. Next Shabos came along and i looked up at the ceiling in the middle of our seudah and sure enough there was the same spider (so it appeared to be) taking his trek across the dinning room ceiling. I made a silent deal with him: he stays on his side of the dinning room (ceiling) and doesn’t come gliding down into my cholent and i will leave him be. So began my odd relationship with my “Shabos spider”. I would look for him every shabos during the seudah and he would be there….taking his Shabos walk across our dinning room ceiling. This lasted for as long as i remember living in that childhood home of mine. i now realize that Shabos Spider, which may have been a distraction at the time, did teach me quite a bit: He was respectful of my wishes for boundaries, he kept me looking Heavenward every Shabos, and he must have been highly aware of the Shabos spirit in my home since i never saw him during the weekday!!


Send To Twitter

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree

Google Analytics integration offered by Wordpress Google Analytics Plugin