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The Mitzvah to take part in Shabbat preparation

The Torah states: “On the sixth day, they shall prepare what they have brought in” (Shemot 16:5). It is inferred from here that there is a mitzva to prepare for Shabbat on Friday. Even a rich and dignified person who has servants who take care of all his needs during the week, and who does not lift a finger around the house, must try to do something himself to honor Shabbat. He should not say: “Should I toil at these simple labors that are beneath my dignity?” Rather he must be aware that it is an honor for him to honor the holy Shabbat by preparing for it. Even if one diligently studies Torah and has others who prepare Shabbat for him, he is commanded to participate personally in some type of Shabbat preparation (Sulchan Aruch 250:1; Rema 251:2).

The Talmud tells of great rabbis and respected leaders throughout the generations who personally participated in Shabbat preparations:

Rava would salt fish before Shabbat, and R. Ĥisda would chop vegetables. Rabba and R. Yosef would chop wood to fire the oven. R. Abahu and R. Zeira would light the cooking fire. R. Huna and R. Papa would prepare candles for Shabbat, and R. Naĥman would clean the house and replace the weekday furniture with the Shabbat furniture (Shabbat 119a).

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