The eighth chapter of massecht Barachot explicates the eight disagreements between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai found in the Mishnah. Today’s daf TB Berachot 52 sees an inconsistency in Beit Shammai’s position concerning Kiddush and Havdalah. When it comes to Kiddush Beit Shammai says we recite the paragraph that sanctifies Shabbat or the holiday first and then make the blessing over the wine. The Gemarra on TB Berachot 51 supplies us with his reasoning. “Beit Shammai say: When one recites kiddush over wine, one recites a blessing over the sanctification of the day and recites a blessing over the wine thereafter as the day causes the wine to come before the meal.” (Sefaria.org translation) The Gemara learns from a baraita (a tannaitic statement) when it comes to Havdalah Beit Shammai says we first say the blessing over wine and then the blessing that separates Shabbat from the weekday. Shouldn’t the same logic apply that the new weekday day i.e. Saturday night comes first and that causes the wine to come?
The Gemara explains to us that Beit Shammai is teaching us something important about Shabbat. “And, nevertheless, after the Gemara has proven that the baraita corresponds to the opinion of Beit Shammai as interpreted by Rabbi Yehuda, the contradiction Beitween Beit Shammai’s statement in the baraita and their statement in the Tosefta is difficult. The Gemara responds: Beit Shammai hold that the arrival of the day of Shabbat or a Festival is different from the departure of the day. As with regard to the arrival of the day, the more that we can advance it, the Beitter; with regard to the departure of the day, the more we postpone it, the Beitter, so that Shabbat should not be like a burden to us. Consequently, although Beit Shammai situate kiddush before the blessing over the wine, they agree that one should recite havdala after the blessing over the wine.” (Sefaria.org translation)
Too many people only look at what is prohibited on Shabbat. One can’t do this and one can’t do that. At first glance Shabbat can seem like a terrible burden. Those of us who observe the Sabbath focus on all the things we can do when all the distractions are removed. There’s time to have a meal where the entire family sits down together. There’s time to slow down and smell the roses. This time to read and study things we couldn’t during the week. Consequently, Shabbat isn’t a burden at all, but a taste of the World to Come. That’s why Beit Shammai wants to hold on Shabbat for as long as possible even if it’s only for a few seconds it takes a person to recite the blessing over the day before the blessing over the wine.
As soon as we finish massechet Berachot we immediately began massechet Shabbat. During the course of study we shall learn why Shabbat is a blessing and not a burden.