Think of an extraordinary moment in your life. Everything surrounding you seemed brighter, more vivid. The air sizzled with electricity and excitement. Perhaps you are remembering your wedding day, a graduation, bar or bat mitzvah, your conversion, the first time you looked into your new baby’s eyes.
The feelings and emotions that surround these pivotal moments elevates them into another world, the world of holiness. Each week over Shabbat, we ascend to time and space; in fact, we even have a name for it: “kabbalat panim,” which means, “receiving or welcoming the faces.” This phrase is often associated with a wedding, when families welcome their guests with a reception before the ceremony. This reception may be simple or elaborate with food and drink, and toasts.
Shabbat liturgy and ritual mirrors this wedding reception as we welcome the Sabbath bride on Friday evenings. We gather a bit before services and greet each other. Jewish wedding liturgy is ripe with imagery of the natural world leading up to the moment that bride and groom become one, and kabbalat Shabbat blessings offer up imagery of mountains clapping, rivers and trees singing joyously, all praising God. Six psalms compose an extravagant reception, one psalm for every day of the week, finally welcoming her entrance with the mystical poem “L’cha Dodi.” In this moment, we receive one another and we welcome the face of God, Shechinah into the sanctuary.
Shechina, the nurturing feminine aspect of the divine commands two special psalms specific to Shabbat, following L’cha Dodi.
Please join us Friday May 11th for kabbalat panim, welcoming Shabbat and celebrating all the special moms in our lives with this unique service.