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Kabbalat Shabbat Rundown

Are you often moved by Shabbat services, but sometimes unsure of what you’re supposed to do or say? Or even why you’re doing or saying it? Begin this year anew with deeper understanding, grounding and direction in your Shabbat prayer. Take a minute and get the rundown on what Kabbalat Shabbat is all about. Looking piece by piece or at the big picture, we invite you to begin this year anew with deeper understanding, grounding and direction in your Shabbat prayer practice.

SETTLE DOWN: Psalms of Kabbalat Shabbat

What it Is

The Kabbalists (16th-century Jewish mystics) believed that to move immediately from the weekday to the holy space of Shabbat was too stark and jarring a transition. So they added in the recitation of six psalms to help transition us from one mode of being to another. The six psalms can be understood as symbolizing the six days of the week in between each Shabbat.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

11-29

What You Do

Allow your mind, body, and heart to settle into the space. Reflect on the week that has been. Prepare to greet Shabbat.

GET DOWN: Lekha Dodi

What it Is

This song, composed in the 16th century, is the pinnacle moment of Kabbalat Shabbat. We welcome in the Shabbat bride, celebrating her arrival. This is a moment of joy!

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

23

What You Do

Sing, dance, and celebrate.

BOIL DOWN: Piece of Torah

What it Is

In many synagogues, the lengthier D’var Torah, or this week’s parsha, is given on Saturday morning. Friday night services, however, may also contain a moment of insight, wisdom, or reflection on the section of the Torah that will be read aloud the following morning.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

N/A

What You Do

Take it in. See how the teachings of our tradition resonate in your mind and soul.

WIND DOWN: Shema and Its Blessings

What it Is

Kabbalat Shabbat is about transitioning from the week into the holy space of Shabbat. The ma’ariv service, however, follows the contours of any other evening’s prayer. We take this moment to move our souls from the flurry of daytime hours to the slower pace of evening. Like in all evening services, our liturgical arc moves us through prayers for love, for protection, and for redemption.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

39-46

What You Do

Explore the liturgy. Follow along with the congregation, or linger on a word or a phrase that grabs your attention.

QUIET DOWN: Amidah

What it Is

Even in the midst of communal prayer, our service offers a moment for silent prayer, as we express both praise and gratitude to God. The Amidah for Friday evening contains the opening and closing blessings of every other Amidah, which here surrounds a text that sanctifies Shabbat itself.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

47-54

What You Do

Take a moment for yourself. Get in touch with where you’re at, with what you appreciate, and with what you need.

DRINK IT DOWN: Kiddush

What it Is

Kiddush, while a blessing made over a cup of wine, is really about blessing the day of Shabbat itself. Wine, here, becomes the vessel or vehicle through which we experience the joy, elevation, and sanctification of this holy day, distinct from all others.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

55

What You Do

Give a l’chaim in honor of the community’s celebrations, looking back at the week that’s passed and celebrating the holy moment that has arrived.

COOL DOWN: Closing Blessings

What it Is

An orientation of prayer isn’t something we flip the switch and turn off or on. The closing blessings help us move from a mode of prayer back into the mode of Shabbat, taking with us the fullness of what we experienced during the service into the rest of our day and lives. This is also the moment when we say the Mourner’s Kaddish for those we have lost.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

56-62

What You Do

Breathe, sing, and settle in. Shabbat has arrived.

IN A NUTSHELL

SLOW DOWN

Unlike the majority of our days, in which we are bound to packed schedules and ever-moving pieces, Shabbat’s gift is one of expansive time. Take these moments to begin to adjust to that countercultural pace. Take this time to sit, notice, breathe, and slow down.

LET YOUR GUARD DOWN

Prayer is about opening our hearts, peeking inside, and letting out what we find. Prayer is risky. It is vulnerable. It asks us to shed the shields and defenses that we often hide behind, and to show up as our raw and honest selves, as we seek intimate connection with the Divine. It gives us the privilege of being just who we are.

DIG DEEP DOWN

Prayer operates on all levels. We can pray for what is right in front of us, for what is on the surface. But prayer can also be a tool to explore what is in the depths and corners of our souls. What do we wish for? What do we appreciate? What and how do we love? Where do we find redemption?

Cantor David Mintz

Written By Cantor David Mintz

Cantor David Mintz serves as the director of the Center for Prayer and Spirituality at B’nai Jeshurun. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Deborah and their son, Nadav.

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