15 Dec Kovod of Day or Night
In Bereishis 43:16 Yosef told his servants to slaughter an animal and prepare. The Medrash 92:4 says that the word prepare is referring to Shabbos as the Torah tells us to prepare for the 7th day. The Medrash in Naso 14:2 says that the story with Yosef and his brothers took place on Friday. That is why in 43:25 it says they prepared the gifts for Yosef, and Rashi says they prepared it by putting the gifts into nice kailim. This would be the source for the obligation to prepare the Shabbos table with a nice white tablecloth lichvod Shabbos as we see in Orach Chaim 262:1.
The above is based on the Gemara in Shabbos 117b that tells us that Rav Chisda says a person should wake up early on Friday morning to spend money for Shabbos as quoted in Shulchan Aruch 250:1. This holds true even if one has many servants, nevertheless, one should do something him/herself lichvod Shabbos. Rav Chisda would cut the vegetables and Rav Nachman would move the furniture that was used a whole week out of the house and bring in special furniture lichvod Shabbos.
The Gra in 529 says that the din of Oneg Shabbos is on Shabbos itself, whereas the din of Kavod Shabbos is from before Shabbos. Whatever a person does to prepare for Shabbos is called Kavod Shabbos. Included in this would be preparing the tablecloth, the chairs, and making everything ready so when one comes home from Shul on Friday night everything is ready to go.
Why is there only a din of hachana for the night meal and not the day meal? We find that the Gemara in Pesachim 105a says that the day meal takes precedence over the night meal, yet we find that as far as preparation goes, it is only applicable to the night meal. When it comes to the actual meal, we mentioned that the day meal comes first in importance, for example, if someone does not have enough food for both meals, it is preferred that the food be used for the meal during the day. This is seen in Shulchan Aruch 271:3. The Magen Avraham 4 brings down the Zohar that says you need to be mesader the table at night to have bread and other foods ready. Reb Yitzchok adds that one must do it for the daytime meal too. The Machtzis Hashekel brings down that the Magen Avraham says that the Zohar argues on the Gemara and seems to say that the night meal is more important than the day meal. It is just that the Halacha is like our Gemara and not Kabala, because we pasken according to the Gemara when the Gemara argues with Kabala.
We could say that really the Zohar does not argue with our Gemara. Really, the day meal is more important than the night meal. The Zohar is speaking regarding preparing the meal, in case the night meal is more important, so it’s essential to have it prepared. As far as preparation goes, the night meal is more important, but of course the day meal would also have a mitzvah of preparation. The ikkar mitzvah of hachana is for the night meal.
This would really make a nafka mina if a person has only one tablecloth and won’t be able to use it for two meals. He should rather use the nice tablecloth for the night meal, whereas someone who does not have enough food itself should save the food for the day meal. Oneg is more important for the day meal whereas kavod is more important for the night meal.
May we be zocheh to the Geulah Sheleima, to the Yom Shekulo Tov!