Mizmor LeDovid & Anah Bakoach
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Although we already reviewed Psalm 29, Mizmor LeDovid in our Mussaf Tips, since we recite it again at this point in Kabbalat Shabbat and all the commentaries stress that it should be recited with vigor and joy it is worthwhile for us to take another look.
After we recite the five consecutive psalms that correspond to the first five days of the week, we rise from our seats and recite Psalm 29 which corresponds to the sixth day, Erev Shabbat. We stand up in honor and in awe of the presence of G-d that we experience in recognition that Shabbat the Messianic Day of Eternity has arrived. We sing joyously Havu Lashem Bnei Eilim…. – You the children of our Patriarchs, Give unto G-d, Give unto Him your honor and strength, and bow down in this holy space.
The last line of the psalm reads, Hashem Oz Leomo Yiteyn, HashemYivarech et amo Bashalom – G-d gives strength (Torah) to his people, G-d shall bless us with peace-Shalom. Peace is actually one of the names of G-d. So many of our prayers conclude with the call for peace i.e. The Amida, Bentching, Bircat Kohanim, and the Kaddish because as the last Mishnah in tractate Uktzin states, “ There is no greater vessel for blessing then peace”. As Rashi states in Parshat Bechukotai, “Im Eyn Shalom Eyn Kum –if there is no peace, there is nothing at all”- all blessings decay without peace. Since Psalm 29 represents the final day/era before Shabbat/the Time of Moshiach it is accompanied with the blessing of Shalom-Peace.
While standing, we then recite the mystical prayer of the Tanna Rav Nechunia ben Hakanna – Ana Bakoach-We beg of You. I am not a student of the Kabbalah, yet it is evident that the Kabbalists considered this prayer to be incredibly powerful and important. It has been noted that the prayer Ana Bekoach contains 42 words, the first letters of which somehow form the mystical 42 letter, Name of G-d. These 42 letters correspond to the 42 places mentioned in the Torah where the nation of Israel camped during the forty years in the Sinai Desert before entering the Land of Israel. There are 42 lines in each column of a Sefer Torah scroll paralleling this process. The prayer is divided into seven verses of six words each. I have seen each of the seven lines related to the Seven Sephirot-Chessed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malchus—loving kindness, strength, splendor, eternity, glory, foundation, and kingship.
Therefore, after concluding the six psalms that correspond to the six days of the week and the first six thousand years of creation, we welcome the eternal presence of G-d into the world and into our lives by uttering His holy name constructed within the Tefillah of Ana Bakoach.
Take Home Tip: We sing in Shabbat Zemirot– Meyeyn Olam Haboah Yom Shabbat Menucha – that Shabbat tranquility is tantamount to the World To Come. This transforming experience begins during the Tefillah of Kabbalat Shabbat.
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel, Cherry Hill, New Jersey for Tefillah Tips
Orthodox Union Department of Community Services Frank Buchweitz, National Director Hannah Farkas, Program Manager Adina Tabak, Administrative Assistant
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