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Friday Night Live

by Rabbi Adin (Steinsaltz) Even-Yisrael

  

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On entering a home on the eve of Shabbat, one may see how a dwelling place is made into a sanctuary. The table on which are set the white loaves of Shabbat bread and the burning candles recall the Holy Temple with its Menorah and its shewbread. The table itself is a reminder of the altar in the Temple, for eating could and should become an act of sacrifice. In other words, the relation between man and the food he consumes, as expressed in the intention behind eating the food, corresponds to the cosmic connection between the material and the spiritual as expressed by every sacrifice on the altar. The Kiddush consecration is connected with the drinking of the wine, which is associated with the Shabbat wine sacrifices in the Holy Temple. The candles lit by the women of the house emphasize the light of Shabbat, the sanctification of the day, and the special task of the woman as representative of the Shekhinah of Malkhut.

Shabbat is bound up with the divine manifestation in the Sefirah of Malkhut (“kingdom”), which represents the Shekhinah and also the totality, the receptacle that absorbs all that occurs, and is also connected with the first Sefirah, the Crown. Therefore the quality of the Shabbat Eve, which is the summing up of work and events in time, can also be a preparation for the manifestation of the Shabbat as the crown and beginning of time. The Sefirah of Malkhut, or the Shekhinah, represents the divine power as manifested in reality, operating in an infinite variety of ways and means. It has seventy names, each expressing another aspect, another face of this all-inclusive Sefirah. For Malkhut is the seventh of the lower Sefirot and, as the last, also includes in itself the entire ten; in other words, it expresses all of the (ten) Sefirot, each in seven different forms; so that seventy is the key number of the unfolding of the evening devoted to Malkhut and to the Shekhinah which Malkhut represents.

What is the equivalent in all the manifestations of the Shekhinah is that each represents a certain aspect of the feminine. Consequently the symbols and the contents of Shabbat Eve are always oriented to the female, with emphasis on the woman in her universal aspect as well as in terms of the Jewish family.

As part of the preparation for the Kiddush (“consecration”) ceremony, the members of the household sing or recite the song of praise for the “woman of valor” (Proverb 31:10-31). The song, with its appreciation for the woman, the mother, the foundation of the home, has on this Shabbat Eve a double connotation, as praise for the lady of the house and as glorification of the Shekhinah of Malkhut who is, in a sense, the mother, the foundation of the real world. Following this is the Kiddush ceremony itself.

The Kiddush cup symbolizes the vessel through which, and into which, the blessing comes. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for drinking cup kos is the same as that of the name of god Elokim which expresses the divine revelation in the world, in nature, in law. And into the cup is poured the bounty, the wine, whose numerical value is seventy, the number of the Shabbat Eve. After the filling of the cup, which is now the vessel of consecration containing the divine plenty, it is placed on the palm of the right hand in such a way that the cup, supported by the upturned fingers, resembles or recalls a rose of five petals. For one of the symbols of Malkhut is the rose. And the cup of wine, thus expressing also the Shekhinah, stands in the center of the palm and is held by the petal fingers of the rose.


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Shabbat » Shabbat Meals

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.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Kiddush
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
Menorah
Candelabra. Usually a reference to the nine-branched candelabra kindled on the holiday of Chanukah.
Genesis
The first book of the Five Books of Moses. It records the story of Creation and its aftermath, and chronicles the lives of the Patriarchs.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.