Tefillah Tips


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After the festive singing of Lecha Dodi and the ushering in of the Shabbat Queen, we acknowledge the cosmic shift of realities from the mundane week to the holy Shabbat by reciting Psalm 92 – Mizmor Shir Layom HaShabbat – The Song of Shabbat. This Psalm reflects the future world that waits of purity, clarity and eternity. The Psalm contains several themes which will be explained below.

Teshuvah – Repentance

Shabbat is a time for Teshuvah, a time to return to G-d and to one’s own inner self, hence the root of the word ShabbatShuv – to return. Regarding the verse “Tov Lehodot LaHashem –It is good to praise G-d,” our Sages remark that it was originally stated by the first man of the world, Adam, after he repented from the sin of eating the forbidden fruit. It may also be interpreted as Tov Lehitvadot LaHashem – it is good to confess to G-d. When Shabbat arrives each week, it is a time for all Jews to perform an inner search and repair any files that need attending to.

Seeing the Big Picture

“Ish Baahr Lo Yaydoh Ukesil Lo Yavin Et Zoht – A boor cannot know and a fool will not understand.” The Psalmist intimates that only the sophisticated understand that evil has a place in our world temporarily to endow mankind with freedom of choice (Malbim). The wise realize that eventually all evil and evildoers will cease to exist. Since G-d is eternal we know that eventually all good will be rewarded and all evil will be punished precisely.

When Evil Will Collapse and the Righteous will Prosper    

The Psalm states that “Befroach Reshaim Kemo Eisev” – when the wicked prosper, it appears to the masses that there is no ultimate Judge and there is no justice. In the end it will all be clear – “Yitpardu Kol Poaley Aven – the evil will be scattered” and “Tzaddik Katamar Yifrach Keerez Balevanon Yisgeh – the righteous will flower like a palm and grow tall like Cedars”. Since Shabbat is a glimpse of the World to Come, we envision the time when Divine justice will be clear to the entire world.

Take Home Tip:

When we do our weekly preparations for Shabbat, let’s try to do Teshuvah; reflect upon our week and consider areas in which we can actively improve. As we celebrate Shabbat in our finest clothing, enjoying the delicacies of the day, let us remind ourselves that this is only a glimpse of the time when all evil will cease, only goodness will remain, and the world will be in a complete state of Shabbat.

This concludes our semester on Kabbalat Shabbat. I want to wish everyone a wonderful summer and may all your prayers be answered.

Shabbat Shalom,
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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