23 Nov SHABBOS POINTERS – PART THREE
Let’s continue to cast our gaze on ways of increasing our awareness and appreciation of our great treasure, the Shabbos. We will continue to emphasize the need to preserve a spirit of contentment with an absence of pressure and rush during this special day and, in order to identify useful and readily attainable activities, I am continuing with these thoughts and listings of some more “dos” and “don’ts” that I hope you, my dear readership, will find of great practical benefit.
19. After the rabbi’s sermon, we pray the tefilla of Mussaf. The literal meaning of Mussaf is additional, for it corresponds to the special offering that was brought in honor of the Shabbos in the Beis Hamikdosh. It therefore behooves us to give this prayer special attention. Although we are already thinking longingly about the cholent and our stomachs are reminding us that we have already been in shul for a long time, and even though many of us are far away from Yerushalaim, we should train ourselves to think during this prayer of our longing for the rebuilding of the Temple so that we should be able to once again actually bring the Korban Mussaf and not just pay it lip service.
20. When the chazzan repeats the Shemoneh Esrei of Mussaf, we say the special Kedushah prayer of Na’ritz’cha or Kesser. In it, we say again in unison the words of Shema Yisroel. The commentators reveal to us that during times of persecution the enemy banned us from accepting the yoke of Heaven with Shema Yisroel in Shabbos morning davening. To enforce this, they would send in inspectors bright and early to make sure that we didn’t say the Shema. Our rabbis therefore instituted the saying of the Shema in the Kedushah – which is at the end of the services – to slip it in after the inspectors had already left. This thought always serves to remind me of how fortunate we are today to be able to pray with full religious freedom and ensures that I don’t feel frustrated that Mussaf is taking too long already.
21. Traditionally, in many shuls, after the chazzan repeats Mussaf and says Kaddish, the president or gabbai makes the shul announcements. Some are of a congratulatory nature such as mazel tov’s for births, Bar Mitzvas, and engagements. He also informs the congregation of shul and community functions, such as shiurim and tzedaka events. It is unfair to besiege this official with all kinds of announcements at the last minute. It means he has to adlib on the spot and it is a recipe for mistakes and memory overload. Instead, one should call the president before Shabbos so that he can include an announcement on his list and plan how to present it properly. Also, try to avoid correcting him publicly for small mistakes and omissions. It is a sure way to ensure that he won’t want to continue at his post. Always remember the adage of Hillel, “Ma d’sani lach l’chavreich, lo savid – What you wouldn’t like, do not do to your friend.”
22. After announcements, we say Ein Keilokeinu. This prayer contains a lot of words, and sometimes the chazzan rushes through it all too fast. It is for this reason that I’m fond of those who sing the Ein Keilokeinu with its famous chant since it slows people down from the ‘end of davening rush.’
23. It is interesting to note that some have the custom to delete the second paragraph of this prayer; namely, Pitum HaKetores. This is because it enumerates the ingredients of the special incense smoked upon the Mizbeach, altar. And the Gemora informs us, “Im chisar achas mikol samaneha, chayav misa – If one leaves out one of the ingredients, he is liable of death. The Matteh Moshe cites the Maharsha”l, who cautions that one should say Pitum HaKetores from the siddur to make sure that he doesn’t leave out one of the ingredients. It therefore behooves us to say this prayer slowly to certainly avoid mumbling it quickly.
24. Now we come to the last Kaddish of the morning. Many people are already folding up their talleisim and wishing each other a good Shabbos. This is a very bad habit. The Gemora teaches us, “Hakol holeich achar hachesom – Everything goes after the finale.” Thus, for example, we are taught that if somebody abruptly ends Shemoneh Esrei without a respectful pause at its conclusion, Hashem rips up his entire prayer. So too, in our situation, how a person behaves during the last Kaddish of Shabbos morning can define before Hashem the quality of his entire morning service. One should discipline himself to keep on his tallis until after the very last ‘Amein.’ This is in fulfillment of the directive in the Mishna that prayer should not be treated as a burden. Those who fold up their talleisim in order to make a quick getaway are doing exactly what the Mishna is warning us against. It’s for this same reason that a the halacha, forbids a person to daven Shemoneh Esrei right near the shul exit (unless it is his makom kavua, his permanent seat) so as not to give an impression that he wants to make a quick retreat as soon as he finishes.
In the merit of our multi-faceted efforts at making our Shabbos more meaningful and beautiful may Hashem bless us with long life good health and everything wonderful