- When Shabbat leaves it is proper to accompany it, just as one accompanies royalty when they leave the city. Therefore, on Saturday night one should arrange a special meal, called "Melaveh Malka" ("accompanying the queen").
- The special additional soul power merited by every Jew who observes Shabbat lingers until after Melaveh Malka.
- It is preferable to wash hands and eat bread at Melaveh Malka.
- One should set the table for a full meal, even if one will only eat a little bit, and even if one intends to eat only the minimum (one ounce).
- If one feels unable to eat bread, he can still fulfill this mitzvah by eating other foods.
- It is appropriate to prepare a dish special for Melaveh Malka, not just eat Shabbat leftovers.
- It is recommended to have a hot drink. Hot water on Saturday night is said to be soothing for depression, and helps one to be calm doing the week.This meal is considered a mitzvah occasion.
- This meal is considered a mitzvah occasion. Therefore, we light candles (without a blessing) at the table to enhance the festive mood.
- Although the meal has the status of mitzvah, there is no kiddush -- for Shabbat is over. Nor are there any obligatory prayers or verses to be said.
- According to the Zohar, one should introduce the meal (in a manner parallel to the three Shabbat meals) by saying the Aramaic formula, "דא היא סעודתא דדוד מלכא משיחא" -- "This is the Meal of David the Annointed* King."
- Eating the meal of Melaveh Malka with the orally expressed intention that the eating is in honor of the mitzvah of Melaveh Malka helps to 1) ensure easy childbirth (Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk) and 2) prolong one's life (the first Chortkover Rebbe).
- It is customary to mention or sing about Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the prophet). Some do this immediately after Havdalah; others prefer to incorporate it into Melaveh Malka.
- Storytelling about righteous Jewish personalities at Melaveh Malka is an important and popular custom.
- Telling stories of Elijah the Prophet or the Baal Shem Tov on Saturday night is considered propitious for one's livelihood.
- Some Chasidic groups state that telling stories about the holy brothers, Rebbe Zushya and the Rebbe Elimelech (see story #11 in this book), is said to be an aid for those wishing to be blessed with children or to increase their fear of heaven respectively.
- Subsequent generations of Rebbes declared that the stories can be about any great tzadik, and that it is beneficial for all of our material and spiritual needs.
- It is best not tend to other affairs until after Melaveh Malka.
- A variety of opinions exist as to exactly when Melaveh Malka should take place on Saturday night:
1) eat the meal as soon after Shabbat as possible
2) within four hours after Shabbat
3) before midnight.
It all depends on the season and your preference. Some start right after havdalah, while others delay until the house is straightened up, the kids put to bed, etc.
- If one is prevented from making Melaveh Malka on Saturday night, it can be done on Sunday, or if impossible otherwise, even until Tuesday.
- Even after Havdala on Saturday night, one should continue to wear Shabbos clothing. Some wear them until after Melaveh Malka, while others do not remove them until they go to sleep. Rebbe Yehoshua of Belz once said, "For however long one wears his Shabbos clothing on Motzei Shabbos (Saturday night), his stay in Gan Eden every Motzei Shabbos will be extended.The Holy Ari of Tzefat said that we should rejoice during the Saturday night meal...
- The Holy Ari of Tzefat said that we should rejoice during the Saturday night meal as we do during the three meals of Shabbat.
- Music is a popular (though not obligatory) element of Melaveh Malka. It may take the form of singing, listening to recordings as background, or attending a formal or informal live performance. The music should be of an appropriate nature--Jewish religious music or at least music that contributes to the mood of the post-Shabbat occasion.
- Many enjoy singing the special Saturday night songs at the table. One of the most popular is, "Do not fear, my servant Yaakov." The Lubavitcher Rebbe once explained the significance of this song (even though it is not the Chabad custom to sing it): "After an entire day of not working, one may be afraid that he will be losing money, for his competition is open on Shabbos. G‑d promises, 'Do not worry.' If you observe the commandments, He will provide for you as a master who must provide for a servant.
[Based primarily on Lma'an Yishme'u #86 (Parshat Vayakel 5771): "Accompanying the Queen," and The Ascent Complete Guide to Shabbat (ch. 7) by Rabbi Moshe Y. Wisnefsky (publication pending), as adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles for Ascent Quarterly #13 (Autumn 1988) - "How-To" Chart No. 6: Melaveh Malka.
Excerpted from "Saturday Night, Full Moon: Intriguing Stories of Kabbalah Sages, Chasidic Masters and other Jewish Heroes" by Yerachmiel Tilles, managing editor of KabbalaOnline.org. This booklet is avaiable for puchase from Kabbalaonline-shop.com]