A Pledge and a Promise for Shidduchim
November 23, 2023
“If we bring Yiddishe kinderlach back to shemiras Shabbos, Hashem will grant us zivugim hagunim”
The Lakewood Shabbos Project
The last six weeks have been filled with turmoil, upheaval, and pain for all of Klal Yisrael. On Simchas Torah 5784, the world as we knew it changed dramatically.
As news of the terrible atrocities that befell Klal Yisrael reached our ears, we understood that this was a time that warranted unprecedented change on our part. Our batei medrash and shuls were filled with the sounds of Tehillim and heartfelt tefillah, but we felt that we needed to do more. Our gedolim called upon us to make real change with teshuvah and ma’asim tovim like never before. One inyan that the gedolei hador mentioned was being mechazek shemiras Shabbos, as the attacks had taken place on Shabbos and many stories of how Shabbos saved entire communities had come to light.
As the terrible news was coming in from overseas, Chaim*, a boy who had been struggling with Yiddishkeit, especially with shemiras Shabbos, decided that he had to make a change. He found on Amazon a small lockbox that was designed to hold objects for 24 hours at a time. With the help of some sponsors, Chaim purchased 40 of these boxes and gave them to his friends who were also struggling with shemiras Shabbos, and they all locked their phones and other electronic devices in the boxes right before the start of Shabbos.
That week, Shabbos Parshas Bereishis, saw dozens of boys, many of whom had not kept Shabbos for over two years, keeping Shabbos as a zechus for their brethren in Eretz Yisrael.
Climbing the mountain
The rebbe’im and askanim involved in the Lakewood Shabbos Project recognized that this was a unique opportunity. The ruach that had engulfed these struggling teens had to be seized and maximized to its full potential. It had to be transformed into something that would last.
The Lakewood Shabbos Project, in conjunction with Mesivta of Eatontown, launched a project in which boys could sign up to keep Shabbos for four weeks. Those who would achieve this lofty goal would be awarded with a gala Shabbaton in Orlando, Florida, together with their rebbe’im and mentors.
The response was unprecedented: two dozen boys signed up to be shomer Shabbos for four weeks. For these boys, the thought of keeping an entire Shabbos can be compared to climbing a huge mountain. But with steely determination, they decided to do whatever it took to keep their commitment to honor Shabbos.
For their part, the Lakewood Shabbos Project and Mesivta of Eatontown delivered games and books to the boys’ homes and offered Shabbatons in the homes of rebbe’im and at the Lakewood Shabbos House, where the boys would have the atmosphere they so desperately needed in order to keep their commitment.
Hour after hour, Shabbos after Shabbos, these boys pushed through. After five Shabbosim, nearly two dozen boys had done it; they had kept Shabbos week after week.
Erev Shabbos Parshas Toldos, the boys and their mentors boarded flights to Orlando, where an amazing and inspiring Shabbos lay in store for them. The ruach of the Shabbaton can only be described as magical, surreal, and pure. The spirit of teshuvah and the pure spirit of kedushas Shabbos that enveloped all the participants is indescribable. Six weeks earlier, many of these boys couldn’t dream of keeping even one Shabbos, yet here they were, keeping their sixth Shabbos in a row. The zemiros, the singing, and the atmosphere, were literally m’ein Olam Haba.
Bringing our boys home
Unfortunately, it is no secret that there is a small but very present segment of our population that struggles with shemiras hamitzvos and shemiras Shabbos. This tragic phenomenon not only affects these boys and girls and their families but also negatively impacts their neighborhoods as well as the greater Lakewood community.
For the last three years, the Lakewood Shabbos Project has been at the forefront of the battle for the heart and soul of our struggling youth. The project has spared no effort or expense to tackle this tremendous problem. Hundreds of hours of planning and brainstorming produced various shemiras Shabbos programs tailored to the unique needs of our struggling youth.
The challenges and difficulties that arose at every step of the way are far too numerous to print, yet with tremendous siyata d’Shmaya, the Lakewood Shabbos Project opened the Lakewood Shabbos House almost a year ago. The House is an oasis of kedushah and love where struggling youth can spend part or all of Shabbos in an environment infused with the spirit of Shabbos. Weekly Friday night onegs as well as Shabbatons are held in the beautiful Shabbos House, and a spacious game room and comfortable sleeping accommodations draw scores of struggling teens through its doors each Shabbos.
The remarkable work of the Shabbos House is not limited to Shabbos alone; it extends through Pesach, summer vacation, Shavuos, Rosh Hashanah, and Sukkos. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the love and dedication of the mentors have borne fruit—many of the participants are now on the path to shemiras Shabbos and mitzvos.
There is much more work that remains to be done, but the results and siyata d’Shmaya thus far are miraculous. The efforts and costs of running this enterprise are enormous, however, we all know that we can’t possibly put a price tag on shemiras Shabbos.
Rav Dovid Schustal and the Skulener Rebbe, who are intimately involvedin every aspect of the Lakewood Shabbos Project, are therefore turning to every member of our community to join together as one to collectively ensure the continuation of the vital, lifesaving work. They are asking that every family sign up to become a weekly partner with the Lakewood Shabbos Project and Shabbos House with a minimal sum of $5 a week.
We cannot let this opportunity slip through our fingers. We must build on this last month and a half of incredible growth. We must move forward.
As such, the Lakewood Shabbos Project is on the cusp of launching a brand-new initiative in which the boys will be given the chizuk that they need to go to the next level and, with Hashem’s help, to keep Shabbos for the next few months. The project will culminate with a chizuk trip to Eretz Yisrael.
The cost of running the Shabbatons every week, including this past Shabbos in Florida, is astronomical. Many former donors have unfortunately been unable to help due to financial setbacks. The Lakewood Shabbos Project is therefore turning to the tzibbur .
Please use the envelope and pledge card enclosed with this week’s Voice magazine to partner with the Rosh Yeshivah and the Rebbe. Donations can be made 24 hours a day by calling 908-SHABBOS. Checks can be made out to “Shabbos” and mailed to Rav Dovid Schustal, 641 6th St. #2, Lakewood, NJ 08701 or uploaded online at secure.cardknox.com/lakewoodshabbosproject.
Interview with the Skulener Rebbe
One of the askanim involved in the Lakewood Shabbos Project discussed the project recently with the Skulener Rebbe. Below is a transcript of their conversation.
M.L.: Baruch Hashem, a group of 24 boys who struggle with shemiras Shabbos have kept the last six Shabbosim in conjunction with the Lakewood Shabbos Project. This past Shabbos, Parshas Toldos, we made a massive Shabbaton in Florida for the boys, and it was a smashing success.
Skulener Rebbe: Why didn’t they invite me for the Shabbos? I would have loved to spend Shabbos with these bachurim!
M.L.: All of these initiatives come at a great cost, and I am turning to the members of our communities to contribute the funds necessary to continue this important project. One of the askanim who has been a driving force behind the Shabbos House relates that over the last year, since he began helping and supporting the Shabbos Project, he was zocheh to celebrate three shidduchim for his children. Is there a guaranteethat those who support shemiras Shabbos will merit to see hatzlachah in the area of shidduchim?
Skulener Rebbe: It is well-known that Shabbos is the only day of the week that wasn’t given a zivug—Sunday has Monday, Tuesday has Wednesday, and Thursday has Friday, but Shabbos is all alone. So Hakadsoh Baruch Hu told Shabbos, “I am giving you a wonderful ben zug—Yisrael.” The Yidden are the zivug of Shabbos Kodesh. This sentiment is clearly felt every week when we sing “Lecha dodi likras kallah, pnei Shabbos nekablah”—the Yidden all go out to greet their kallah, the holy Shabbos.
The Ba’al Shem Tov famously said that Hashem deals with His children based on how much they invest into their avodas Hashem, as the pasuk says, “Hashem tzilcha—Hashem is [like] your shadow”; He treats you based on your efforts. If so, then of course if Yidden choose to invest themselves and their resources into making the shidduch between Klal Yisrael and Shabbos a more harmonious and peaceful marriage, then the Ribono shel Olam will surely bless them with shidduchim as well. If we do our best to bring Yiddishe kinderlach back to shemiras Shabbos, then that is the greatest havtachah that Hashem will reciprocate in kind and grant us zivugim hagunim for our children as well.
So too, if we help orchestrate that Shabbos candles illuminate the homes of other Yidden, then we can rest assured that Hashem will similarly make things lechtig in our homes as well.
M.L.: Is that a havtachah that we can say over in the Rebbe’s name?
The Skulener Rebbe: This is a havtachah that comes directly from the Ribono Shel Olam. We don’t need to come on to people for such havtachos. Shabbos Kodesh itself is the biggest source of blessing that there is, as we are taught, “Kol hame’aneg es ha’Shabbos, nosnin lo nachalah bli metzarim.”
M.L.: If people give a certain sum of money toward our cause, can we give the Rebbe their names to daven on their behalf?
Skulener Rebbe: Yes.
M.L.: Can the Rebbe give us a brachah for success with our initiative?
Skulener Rebbe: The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh says that the pasuk “V’shamru Bnei Yisrael es haShabbos” refers to protecting Shabbos from being transgressed by ourselves as well as by others. It is our achrayus to see to it that Shabbos is kept by as many Yidden as possible. Hashem should bentsch you to have hatzlachah with these endeavors. I’m mamash mekaneh you for the zechusim you are acquiring!
The source of all blessing
Rav Dovid Schustal relates a story that he heard from Rav Shneur Kotler: There was a Yid whose son was unfortunately not shomer Shabbos. This Yid once found himself on a train with the Ludzker Rav and the Chafetz Chaim.
The Lutzker Rav seized the opportunity to ask the Chafetz Chaim to please give this Yid a brachah.
The Chafetz Chaim responded, “Why are you coming to me for a brachah? You should go to Shabbos because Shabbos is the mekor habrachah. However, you must know that it says ‘attah u’vincha’—you must keep Shabbos together with your children in order to merit this brachah.”
With these words, it was clear that the Chafetz Chaim had ruach hakodesh, as he did not know anything about this Yid.
The Rosh Yeshivah asked the Lakewood Shabbos Project to publicize this story so that we may all seize this opportunity to receive brachah in all areas of our lives, including shidduchim, parnassah, nachas from children, or any other yeshuah we desperately need—for Shabbos is the mekor habrachah; all blessing comes from Shabbos.
The Rosh Yeshivah also agreed to daven for donors of the Lakewood Shabbos Project once a week.
Grab the havtachah of the Skulener Rebbe and the unprecedented opportunity for shidduchim, parnassah, zera shel kayama, and nachas.
The Rosh Yeshivah and the Skulener Rebbe will daven weekly for all who join them by donating at least $5 per week or $270 to the Lakewood Shabbos Project.
Please use the enclosed card and envelope that came in the Lakewood Courier packet with the Voice to submit your name(s), or call 908-SHABBOS.