In the Talmud (Shabbat 119b), Rabbi Josi the son of Judah is quoted as saying:

On the eve of Shabbat, two ministering angels accompany a person home from the synagogue. One angel represents the positive forces and one angel represents the negative forces. When the person arrives home and finds the candles lit, the table set and the house in proper order [in other words, a house prepared for Shabbat], the positive angel says “May it be thus for another Shabbat!” The negative angel must affirm this and say “Amen.” If, however, the house is not ready for Shabbat, the negative angel says “May it be thus for another Shabbat!” The positive angel must affirm this and say “Amen.”

This Talmudic reference is the source for the singing of Shalom Aleichem when one returns home from synagogue (or just before one begins the Shabbat meal). These two angels remind us of the importance of the Shabbat atmosphere. Shabbat is more than just a day of resting from work, it is a day infused with holiness.

Throughout rabbinic literature, one finds Shabbat referred to as both the “Shabbat Queen” and the “Shabbat Bride.” The accompanying angels are like royal servants who have come to make certain that everything is prepared for the arrival of the Queen. So grand is the arrival of Shabbat, that even preparing for its arrival brings extra blessings to one’s home.

This Treat was last posted on March 4, 2011.

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