Today is day 39 of the Omer. Only ten days left!
As noted here, I recently obtained a copy of an erev Shabat service used at a relatively recent World Union for Progressive Judaism convention. Today, I’ll begin reviewing it in little chunks. For some background on my overall feelings about Kabalat Shabat, go here. If you don’t care about that, plunge ahead with my overview of this service’s Kab Shab.
It is, in the end, odd that the entire packet is entitled “Kabalat Shabat” because that particular collection of t’hilim and piyutim are not present in their entirety, though some elements of Kab Shab are present. The sidur begins with Y’did Nefesh and continues with Yism’chu B’malcut’cha. The inclusion of Yism’chu in any Progressive sidur has always amused me. This paragraph comes from the Musaf Amidah, the additional Amidah recited at the end of the service on Shabat mornings. No officially Reform community I know of includes that section, but many take Yism’chu and use it on Erev Shabat because, well, they know a catchy tune for it.
After Yism’chu is T’hilim 150, Halleluyah (El b’kodsho etc. with all the insturments etc.), an odd choice for Friday night, given that everyone will presumably sing it again the next morning. As the most explicitly music-oriented passage in the whole Tanach (to my knowledge), however, it does make sense as an addition to this simulacrum of a Kab Shab, Kab Shab itself being an inherently musical venture.
Then we get Shabat Hamalkah accompanied by a translation from the Dutch Liberal Prayer Book, which includes the very funny word “boomtoppen.”
Then we have a really wacky little thing, which the editors of this service (Rabbis Stanley M. Davids and Yehoram Mazor) have decided to title Hadlakat Nerot Hashabat, which includes the brachah for lighting the candles along with some other poetic stuff Icould do without.
Then we have, shock of all shocks, something that’s actually in Kabalat Shabat in real life: T’hilim 95. Then we get Shalom Aleichem with translations from the Russian Reform Prayer Book and the Italian Reform Prayer Book (Benvenute, creature dell’Onnipotente, messaggeri dell’Altissimo etc.)
L’chah Dodi is next, but it is preceded by a little introductory passage from the Talmud from Shabat 118-119:
Rabbi Chanina once said: “Come and let us go out to greet Shabbat, the bride and the queen.” Rabbi Yannai wrapped himself in his garment and said, “Come, O bride; Come, O bride.”
L’chah Dodi is presented in its entirety, like Israeli Progressive sidur Ha’avodah Shebalev and new American Reform sidur Mishkan Tefilah. And yet I am suspicious. Did they actually sing all of it? In my experience, both in America and Israel, no one acutally sings the whole thing, despite the entire song being printed. if you read my previous post about Kabalat Shabat, in particular the part about L’chah Dodi, you know that I take issue with the two verses that deal explicitly with the personal Messiah (“Al yad ben Yishai Beit Halachmi etc.” and “Al yad ish ben Partzi etc.”) The translation given in this service is from Mishkan Tefilah and represents total ambivalence on the part of the editors. The translation for the first verse is accurate: “At hand is Bethlehem’s David, Jesse’s son etc.” The translation for second is more vague: “Await the promised one etc.” The promised what? This falls into the trap that Conservative liturgy falls into in a big way, presenting complete, traditional passages of Hebrew, with slightly off translations so that anyone who doesn’t know the Hebrew might think they are reading much less objectionable material.
Then we get Mizmor Shir from T’hilim 92 along with a Czech translation and then this so-called “Kabalat Shabat” is over and Shma Uvirshoteiha begins.
And now, the Omer: