The mid-section of the Shabbat Mussaf prayer is, “Tikanta Shabbat Ratzita Korbanoteha – G-d,You instituted the Shabbat and have taken pleasure in its offerings…”
The first thing to note regarding this Tefillah is that it is a reverse acrostic. The prayer begins with Tof and continues backwards through the alphabet until Alef. Reverse acrostics are quite rare in our liturgy. Another place we see a reverse acrostic is in the Tefillah of Tal (Dew) on Pesach.
The reverse acrostic reflects the time of the Ultimate Redemption- the Messianic Era when all the great problems in life will be solved and all the hard questions will be answered. Only at the End of Days will all the mysteries of the world be revealed. By seeing the End of Days, we will understand why and how we got to where we did; and how G-d has been guiding us every step of the way.
Since Shabbat is Me’ein Olam Habah – tantamount to the Next World, we get a glimpse of what that world will look like. Through our prayers, studies and celebrations of Shabbat, we aim to experience this piece of heaven on earth.
How in fact do we celebrate Shabbat? The Tefillah teaches us:
- Meangeha Leolam Kavod Yinchalu – Those who delight in Shabbat will receive honor.
- Toameha Chaim Zachu – Those who savor it merit Eternal Life.
- Haoahavim Devareha Gedula Bacharu – those who love its teachings have chosen greatness.
There are three levels of experience: A) Celebration, B) Actually tasting it and C) Looking forward to experiencing the Shabbat.
On a basic level, one may “Keep Shabbos”. On a deeper level, one can actually “Taste the Shabbat”. At the highest level, one can literally live from Shabbat to Shabbat always looking forward to the time when it will be Kulo Shabats – Ultimate Redemption.
Take Home Tip: In the Torah, in our Tefillot and in life it is not just what is said, it is how it is said. The architects of our Siddur were scholars, prophets and kabbalists. Let’s take note of what they wrote, and HOW they wrote it in order to recognize its tapestry of knowledge and inspiration.