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What is a Melaveh Malkah?

by Mrs. Dinka Kumer

  

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The Name:

'Melaveh Malkah' means 'escorting the Queen' in reference to the Shabbat Queen. Melaveh Malkah is the Mitzvah meal eaten on Saturday night after Shabbat ends, to escort away the Shabbat Queen who was with us during the seventh day of the week. This meal is also known by the name (in Aramaic) 'Se'udata d'Dovid Malka Meshicha', 'the feast of David, King Messiah', referring to King David, who established the post-Shabbat meal.

The Meal:

You've finished all the scrumptious Shabbat foods, and can't think about another bite, so… get ready for another irresistible repast. Melaveh Malkah is best eaten as an official meal with bread, and some are accustomed to cooking a new food in honor of the meal. If such a feast is not feasible, one may suffice with baked goods, fruit, or even a cup of coffee (obviously with the intent that this is in honor of Melaveh Malkah and not a midnight nosh).

Since the blessings of Shabbat are so immense, they require a mediator to make their 'descent' in the weekdays
A main emphasis of the meal is the attitude in which it is eaten. Melaveh Malkah should not be 'on the run', rather eaten with the appropriate intent that one is escorting away royalty (the Shabbat Queen), and the table should be nicely set.

Related customs:

Candlelit dinner: Many are accustomed to lighting candles on Saturday night.

"Tea? Coffee?": A hot beverage on Saturday night is known to be a remedy for both physical illnesses and despondency.

Turn on the faucet: Miriam's well from the Jews' desert travels, flows into all the springs and wells on Saturday night. Those who manage to drink from those waters are healed of their ailments. Therefore, we hope that by drinking from freshly drawn water (or from the freshly opened tap) we will access those special waters.

Spin a tale: Tell a story of the Ba'al Shem Tov or any Tzaddik, for blessings of all kinds.

The 'luz' bone is nourished from the Melaveh Malkah meal
The Meaning and Merits:

The fact that Melaveh Malkah is an oft ignored mitzvah due to its difficulty ("What? More food? But I'm stuffed!" and "I've got tons of things to catch up on now that Shabbat ended!") signifies its great importance. The merit of eating Melaveh Malkah is known to grant blessings of health, wealth and spiritual gain, including strengthened faith. Also, Melaveh Malkah has a great influence over the new week. One explanation of this is that since the blessings of Shabbat are so immense, they require a mediator to make their 'descent' in the weekdays. This is, of course, Melaveh Malkah, via which these lofty blessings can make their mark on the days to come.

There is a bone called the 'luz' located at the base of the skull where the Tefillin knot is. This is the bone from which man was created and from which he will be re-created at the resurrection of the dead during the era of the redemption. It is a bone that cannot be destroyed and never disintegrates. Tradition teaches that the 'luz' bone is nourished from the Melaveh Malkah meal.

The merit of Melaveh Malkah helps grant easy births for women. 

On Shabbat we each receive an 'extra soul'. This soul does not entirely complete its exit until after Melaveh Malkah, so we can thereby enjoy the 'added Shabbat soul' that much longer, even after returning to the week.

The Bottom Line:

Make sure to include Melaveh Malkah in your weekend itinerary!


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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Tzaddik
(fem. Tzidkanit; pl. Tzaddikim). A saint, or righteous person.
Tefillin
Black leather boxes containing small scrolls with passages of the Bible written on them. Every day, aside for Sabbath and Jewish holidays, the adult Jewish male is required to wrap the Tefillin--by means of black leather straps--around the weaker arm and atop the forehead.
Miriam
Older sister of Moses and Aaron, and a prophetess in her own right.
David
King of Israel who succeeded Saul, becoming king of Israel in 876 BCE. Originally a shepherd, he became popular after he killed the Philistine strongman, Goliath. He is the progenitor of the Davidic royal dynasty -- which will return to the throne with the arrival of King Messiah.