Kabbalat Shabbat begins with Psalm 95 and continues through Psalm 99 followed by Mizmor LeDovid, Psalm 29, and then Lecha Dodi. The Yaavetz explains that the recital of the six Psalms corresponds to the six days of the week and Shabbat corresponds to Lecha Dodi.
The Malbim (1809-1879) writes that Psalms 95-99 reflect the time of Messianic redemption. He also writes that there will be two levels of recognition and praise of G-d at that time. The first level of praise will emanate from the world generally in its overall awareness of G-d’s divine power, strength, and sovereignty over this world. The second and more profound level of praise will be sung by the People of Israel, which will relate to G-d as their personal protector and loving King throughout history. Psalm 95 introduces both styles of praise. Psalms 96 and 97 are level-one praises. Psalms 98 and 99 are level-two praises.
Lechu Nerannena La-shem Nareeyah Letzur Yisheynu – “Let us go and praise G-d with joy, we will cry out to our Rock of deliverance (G-d)”. The arrival of Messiah is met with a shofar blast–a Teruah, to celebrate the historic moment.
The contrast between level-one praise and level-two praise is clearly defined in the difference styles of praise in verses four and five as opposed to five and six.
Four and five speak generally of the wonders of Creation, e.g. the tall mountains, the depths of the sea and the types of terrain on earth.
Five and six speak more personally and invite all of Israel to come forth and express submission and gratitude to Our Maker because He is our G-d and we are His flock.
The final verses of Psalm 95 take note of the first generation of Israel that traversed the desert for forty years and did not merit entry into the land of Israel.
The Psalmist concludes, “Al Takshu Levavchem… Do not harden your hearts like your forefathers….Im Yevoun El Menuchati – whom I did not let enter the promised land.”
Take Home Tip: Before we begin to daven Psalm 95 – Lechu Nerannena – pause for a moment and imagine our world without war, strife and terror. Envision our world to be a world of total truth, harmony and beauty. Then begin the great song of Lechu Nerannena.
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel, Cherry Hill, New Jersey for Tefillah Tips
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