Elokeynu Veelokay Avotainu

Elokeynu Veelokay Avotainu
The next tefillah of Shabbat Minchah is Elokeynu Veelokay Avoteinu Retzey Bimenuchateinu,
which means: G-d, the G-d of our fathers, be pleased with our rest (on Shabbat).
This Tefillah is the one recurring prayer in the three Shabbat Tefillot; however the word Retzey
appears often in our prayers. In every single Amidah we recite all week long, the final section of
Gratitude begins with Retzey…Beamcha Yisrael Uvetefillatam…Hashem, be pleased with the
people of Israel and their prayers and return us to the Holy Temple wherein we will offer
I can easily understand how and why we beseech G-d at the end of our daily supplications in
the Amidah to accept and be pleased with our prayers, because they are a ritual service that we
perform; and we hope that it is pleasing unto G-d. However, it perplexes me as to why on
Shabbat we ask Hashem to be pleased with our rest; what kind of service is our rest?! We also
say a Retzey in Bentching on Shabbat – Retzey Vehachlitzaynu – Hashem be pleased and
provide us with rest…..again implying that Hashem should be pleased with our rest. What is so
special about our rest on Shabbat? Isn’t it simple – we work six days and on Shabbat we cease
from Tabernacle-styled behavior and thereby rest. What is so holy about this rest that we are
asking G-d to be pleased with it?
To answer this question we must consider the nature of the rest in which we are required to
engage and enjoy. Rav Pincus zt”l explains that resting on Shabbat is not simply the earthly
absence of labor and some time off from the office and daily carpool. Rather, Shabbat is the
time of a global paradigm shift (whether we realize it or not), when the whole world transforms
into G-d’s palace. Therefore, our resting is not merely a pursuit of physical relaxation with
delicious food, late wake up, and a Shabbat nap too; rather it is meant to be a spiritual
experience that our souls can soar with prayer, zemirot-Melodic Hymns, and the study of Torah,
uninterrupted by the distractions of the world that we deal with all week.
That is why the Tefillah reads – Elokeynu Veelokay Avotein Retzey Beminuchateinu – G-d, be
pleased with our rest. Just as we want Hashem to be pleased with our prayer services, so too,
do we ask Him to be pleased and accept our spiritual rest as a service and a Mitzvah we have
fulfilled.Take Home Tip: Although we aim to find personal meaning and joy in Shabbat and all of the
Mitzvoth we perform, we must remember that the fulfillment of a Mitzvah is not merely
ABOUT OUR personal enjoyment; rather it is about completing a service unto G-d. Shabbat is
really about experiencing a divine reality on earth, which is the definition of a spiritual rest.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein, for Tefillah Tips
Orthodox Union Department of Community Services
Frank Buchweitz, National Director
Hannah Farkas, Program Associate
Maya Carni, Administrative Assistant
Prepared by Rabbi Ephraim Epstein—Congregation Sons of Israel, Cherry Hill, NJ