Friday, March 12, 2010

Kabbalat Shabbos

Whoever has not welcomed the Sabbath Queen from the Machtesh, has never welcomed the Queen.  -Anonymous

It is late. It is always late. I am late for shul. I decide I will go to the Machtesh and begin my davening there in solitude while I wait for Kabbalat Shabbat to begin.

As I walk uphill I hasten my pace toward the Machtesh. I hear the sounds of a Schubert Adagio, soft cries over plucked heart strings, and feel the tug of a passion from long ago.

From within the corner shul I hear the murmured sounds of quiet prayer. A young IDF soldier walks out, rifle slung over shoulder, siddur in hand. Her long olive skirt tells me she is observant. She crosses my path and walks toward her comrades, some distance away at the visitor center. A large crowd of IDF soldiers has gathered there for Kabbalat Shabbos. I hear their song begin, swelling from afar. Other soldiers sit in small groups with friends, quietly talking, watching along the crater's rim, their rifles across folded legs.

My foot steps onto the Eerie. The crater is resplendent with light, a supernal glow that comes from everywhere and nowhere, from within the very rocks themselves.

The world is filled with the glory of G-d;
It flames out, like shinning from shook foil.

It is late. I begin, Ashrei yoshvei vetecha od y'hal'lucha, selah.
Happy are those that dwell in Your house; they keep on praising.”

The sun goes to its place.

The shade of night is drawn. The sixth day is rolled up into a blue-grey shadow.

Now is the night one blue dew,
my father has drained,
he has coiled the hose,
low in the length of lawns,
a frailing of fire who breathes...

I join a group of yeshiva boys and their teachers on the crater's rim behind me. They sing and sway; later they dance; friends embrace, their ritual fringes, tinged with t'chelet, blowing in the wind. They welcome the Sabbath Queen:

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
For the LORD [is] a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand [are] the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills [is] his also.
The sea [is] his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry [land].
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

It has grown dark. The supernal light disappears...The radiant Shabbat Queen comes in...

As Shabbat arrives, she merges into Oneness, and is separated from the “other side”, and all strict judgments are severed from her. And she remains in unity with the holy light, and crowns herself with many crowns for the holy King...Her countenance is irradiated with a supernal light, and she crowns herself here below with the holy people, all of whom are crowned with new souls. Then the commencement of prayer is to bless her with with joy and radiant countenance. 

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