As we continue through the silent devotion prayers of Shabbat, we finally arrive at Mincha. On Friday night we relived the original Shabbat of Creation, on Shabbat morning we again stood at Har Sinai for the Shabbat of the revelation, and, now, as the day wanes, we are living the Shabbat yet to come. This is the Shabbat of GE’ULA SHLEIMA, Redemption. We are celebrating the Shabbat of Y’MOT HaMASHIACH. How do we accomplish this feat? Please, pay close attention.
The fourth blessing of this Amida, immediately after the three standard opening blessings, begins by paraphrasing Zecharia: You are One, and Your name is One (Zecharia 14:9), also the last statement in the Aleinu prayer. According to Rav Soloveitchik this unity implies that,
‘there is no contradiction in Him-all opposites are reconciled, all contradictions resolved, In Him, thesis and antithesis merge into one. There is mercy and strictness simultaneously; CHESED, loving-kindness, and GEVURA, power, coexist (Koren HaRav Siddur, p.651).
In our world we tend to see God as many things at many different times. I often find myself praying to a scary, vengeful God. Other times I find myself confiding in a sweet, compassionate, caring Deity. Of course, God didn’t change; I did. In that future, we will be able to reconcile all these different manifestations of God, and experience them all in YUD-HEY-VAV-HEY, Tetragrammaton. Cool!
But perhaps even more remarkable, we state: Who is like Your people Yisrael, a nation unique on earth? In that future vision, the Jewish nation will fulfill its destiny (like Luke?) and become a unity as well. Unity amongst Jews may be a bigger miracle than envisioning unity in the Almighty. We are an ornery people. You know: two Jews, three opinions.
Then comes the most heartwarming image, perhaps, in all our liturgy: Avraham will rejoice; Yitzchak will sing for joy, Ya’akov and his children will find their tranquility within it (the future Shabbat). This moving statement is paraphrased in a beautiful song about the future redemption, famously sung by Mordechai ben David (written by Dina Storch, Kol HaKavod!):
Someday we will all be together
Someday we’ll be sheltered and warm
Never will we have to express any fear
Our scars and our wounds will disappear
Avraham and Yitzchok will be there to greet us
Yaakov and his sons will stand by and smile
Moshe Rabbeinu will lead us once again
In Yerushalayim – B’Ezras Hashem
I get choked up by those lyrics which I remember so lovingly from my NCSY days. But that’s the sentiment of the Shabbat Mincha Amida. There are those who explain that the joy of Avraham and Yitzchak will be SHEPPING NACHAS from observing the prodigious progeny of Ya’akov observing the Shabbat.
The remainder of this powerful paragraph is about the MENUCHA of Shabbat. The term MENUCHA appears seven times, each time revealing a new level of the tranquility and restfulness of Shabbat. I can understand and, even identify with some of these levels, but eventually the list goes beyond my experience and ken, but I’ll do my best to elucidate.
The first is MENUCHA U’KEDUSHA. We experienced that MENUCHA Friday evening as we entered Shabbat; we sanctified the day. Besides reciting the Kiddush, we chanted ATA KIDASHTA (You sanctified the seventh day for Your Name’s sake, the TACHLIT or purpose of Creation) in the Friday night Amida. In other words, the first MENUCHA is about the difference between Shabbat and the six workdays. The simplest and most basic MENUCHA.
Then we have MENUCHAT AHAVA U’NEDAVA (the rest of love and generosity or magnanimity). This, hopefully, is our Friday night of affection for spouse and family. We feel the love through our altruism for every member of our family. Friday night is about family and intimacy and love.
We wake up to the MENUCHA of EMET and EMUNA (truth and faith). That’s because Shabbat AM is the recreation of the epiphany at Sinai. We recognize the ‘Joy of Moshe through the conferring of his portion’, namely the Torah. Shabbat day is about Torah study. I know this may come as a shock to many of our Charedi brethren, but historically most Jews learned little during the week, supporting a family was time consuming and arduous. Ahh, but on Shabbat the MENUCHA including time to study Torah at one’s leisure.
Next comes the MENUCHA of SHALOM (peace, a sense of being whole), SHALVA (serenity), HASHKET (serenity, quietude), and BETACH (security). This, I believe is our Shabbat afternoon snooze. Even in retirement, I only find the restfulness to nap on Shabbat. That rest is a delicious luxury.
At this point, we get ready for Mincha and the anticipation of GEULA. This ushers in, I believe, the MENUCHA SHLEIMA. We have a foretaste of that complete MENUCHA from all trouble and travail in the Y’MOT HaMASHIACH. That’s a total restfulness beyond our experience, but we can imagine it.
The last two, ‘that their MENUCHA truly emanates from You’ and ‘and through their MENUCHA they will sanctify Your Name’, I’m not sure many of us really experience. Perhaps, some mystics who have an esoteric mystic experience at Seudah Shlishit begin to fathom how our MENUCHA cascades down to us from God in Heaven. Perhaps.
But that last one, ‘and through their MENUCHA they will sanctify Your Name’, I really don’t know how to handle. There must be people on a high enough spiritual plane to have some inkling of how our behavior, in this instance MENUCHA, has an impact on God, but, dear me, I’m not one. I remember getting an award and seeing my parents KVEL, after they recovered from their shock. And I imagine that it’s a little similar with our Parent in Heaven, but I can’t really get my head around it.
That’s fine. I think it’s okay if we don’t grasp every concept. It’s good to know there’s still room for spiritual improvement and growth. BTW a lot of room, like Grand Canyon-size room.
So, that’s the variety of the Shabbat Amidot. We move from Kedusha to revelation to redemption in our Shabbat of spiritual growth. But I’ve left out the final paragraph of these prayers, and, please God, I’ll deal with that next week.