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Kabbalat Shabbat

By: Mrs Michal Porat-Zibman

This weeks Parsha commands us -Zachor Et Yom HaShabbat Lekadsho! Remember the day of Shabbat in order to sanctify it! One of the ways we sanctify Shabbat is the greeting of Shabbat itself. On Erev Shabbat, we welcome the sanctity of the day by praying the special tefilla of Kabbalat Shabbat, which consists mostly of some selected chapters of Psalms. Why is it, that we have such a concept of Kabbalat Shabbat for Shabbat, but we dont have such a concept on Yom Tov! When we daven on Yom Tov, we daven a special Maariv, yet we donít introduce it the way we introduce Shabbat through a similar Tefilla to that of Kabbalat Shabbat?
Rav Soloveitchik answers this question. He says ('Nefesh HaRav' pg 157) the difference is, that on Shabbat it's as if we are inviting Hashem into our homes. On Shabbat we invite Hashe, into the home of our shuls that we have built for Him. The mitzvah of Yom Tov, is Aliyah laRegel, where, we are supposed to come to Yerushalayim to the Beit HaMikdash. Rav Soloveitchik says that this is the distinction betweeen Shabbat and Yom Tov. On Shabbat, we invite Hashem into our homes, into our shuls, and rather on Yom Tov, we approach Him, in His house. That being so, it is only fitting when we invite such a Guest into our shul, that we 'recieve' Him properly, and that is what Kabbalat Shabbat is. It is the way we welcome Hashem into our homes. It wouldn't be relevant for us to do the same on Yom Tov, because on Yom Tov, we are- we should be- the guests in the Kings palace.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel ('The Sabbath' pg 61-62) provides a bit more insight into the term 'Kabbalat Shabbat'. As opposed to Rav Soloveitchiks view that we are being 'mekabel'- that we are receiving Hashems presence, Rabbi Heschel suggests that the term Kabbalah means taking an obligation on ones self- the obligations of the Halachot of Shabbat. Yet Kabbalah also means to receive- and therefore he says we should also look at it as we are welcoming, greeting the Shabbat day.
Whether we are welcoming Hashems presence, accepting the obligations of Shabbat,orgretting the day itself, Kabbalat Shabbat is truly a beautiful way to introduce the day. One of the interesting aspects to this Tefilla, is that the selected Psalms that we recite do not mention Shabbat anywhere! Most of them speak of different parts of nature, different aspects of creation, that rejoice in G-ds Kingdom. So why do we recite this specific collection and what is its connection to the Shabbat day? Here, Rabbi Heschel continues to provide insight. 6 days a week man is focused on his work, his contribution to society, his accomplishments. It could be that come Friday night, he would sit back and reflect on all of the marvellous things that he has done in the past week. Instead, he sits humbly and says these Tehillim, and it serves to remind him of the bigger picture- that everything he is doing is part of G-ds world. As Heschel says, its a time for him to 'turn from the world of creation- to the creation of the world'. This enables man to begin the Shabbat with proper perspective.
Both as a concept as well as its content, Kabbalat Shabbat is a beautiful way for us to relive that acceptance on Har Sinai of 'Zachor etYom HaShabbat LeKadsho'.




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