Towards the end of today’s daf (Pesachim 105b) we are told that there is a difference between bringing in Shabbat and taking it out.
Regarding the start of Shabbat, כמה דמקדמינן ליה עדיף – “the more we bring it in earlier, the better”, because by doing so, מחבבינן ליה – “we demonstrate that we cherish [Shabbat]”.
Contrasting this, regarding the end of Shabbat, מאחרינן ליה – “we delay its departure” in order to demonstrate that דלא ליהוי עלן כטונא – “that Shabbat is not a burden to us”. Thus we learn the principle and the value of תוספת שבת – the adding of time to Shabbat both at its start and its close.
However, while those who choose to adopt strictures (חומרות) – such as those who add extra time either before or after Shabbat – do demonstrate much love for a mitzvah, Rav Dessler (1892-1953) explains that this must be done with great care so that these good intentions do not cause intended spiritual damage, and this is because the absolute pursuit of one mitzvah can often come at the cost of others (Michtav M’Eliyahu Vol. 3 p. 294).
In this spirit, Rav Dessler relates that he heard a story from the great Rav Natan Zvi Finkel zt’l (1849-1927) who saw a young bachur (yeshiva student) preparing himself to welcome the Shabbat at midday on an Erev Shabbat. Upon seeing this, Rav Finkel said to the student, “what kind of merit do you think will come to you [by bringing in the Shabbat so early] since, upon welcoming Shabbat [while the rest of the community is busy preparing for Shabbat], you will look at the rest of us as if we are profaning the Shabbat.”
What this means is that while the love of a mitzvah can lead a person to adopt greater strictures upon themselves, this must be done with great consideration for the social and spiritual costs involved. As Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi explains in Moed Katan 5a as an interpretation of Tehillim 50:23, those who will be shown the salvation of God are those who carefully appraise their intended actions along with the likely results of those actions.
Especially as we approach Pesach, during which time many people are drawn to adopt various strictures, I would therefore like to use this opportunity to repeat this message of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, Rav Finkel and Rav Dessler, and this is because, as previously noted, the absolute pursuit of one mitzvah can often come at the cost of many others.