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The Melaveh Malkah

The Melaveh Malkah

Bidding farewell to the Shabbat Queen

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The aftertaste of havdalah wine swiftly dissolves from our palate, but the afterglow of Shabbat lingers on. After 25 hours immersed in the delicious aura of Shabbat holiness, our extra Shabbat soul now takes its leave. We yearn for some spiritual nourishment to fill the void.

So we sit down to a special meal called a melaveh malkah, meaning “Escort of the Queen”—the queen being the day of Shabbat, whom we greeted as she entered on Friday night. Optimally, we would serve a full meal with bread, meat and wine, but often there is only enough room left in our stomachs for a small bite. Nevertheless, we at least try to wash for bread, and we make that bite into a meal as well, setting the table once again with a fine tablecloth and candles, enhancing the occasion with songs and stories. Many continue wearing Shabbat finery on Saturday night.

Shabbat is a foretaste of the messianic era. As the day departs, we yearn for the real thing . . .The stories are tales of righteous men and women (you’ll find over a thousand to choose from at this link). Baal Shem Tov stories are a big hit, as are tales of Elijah the Prophet. The songs revolve around Elijah, King David and the King Moshiach, our righteous redeemer yet to come.

You see, Shabbat is more than a day of rest; it is a foretaste of the messianic era. As the day departs, we hope and yearn for the real thing—Elijah’s announcement of the arrival of Moshiach, the righteous scion of the House of David.

According to tradition, there is a small and utterly indestructible bone in the body called the luz, sitting at the base of our skull, where the knot of the tefillin rests. It is from this bone that G‑d will reconstruct the entire body when the time arrives for the Resurrection of the Dead. (Today, with our understanding of DNA, this age-old tradition doesn’t seem far-fetched at all.) The luz is nourished from the melaveh malkah alone. Feed it while you can.

Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
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lisa June 6, 2016

Thanks for the explanation. Now I finally get it... Reply

Anonymous NY May 30, 2016

Thank you for explaining the Melavah Malka Reply

Cindy Batashoff Delray Beach, Fl. Palm Beach via chabaddelray.com November 29, 2014

Most interesting Reply

Anonymous June 21, 2012

Interesting question. Since when we bury the body it is whole, we envision the resurrection as simply life going back into that body, and it struggling it's way out of the heavy earth on top of it. But the reality is that the majority of the body disintegrates with time, which means that the resurrection is a lot more of a supernatural event than we can even imagine. It means that G-d recreates the body, with what is left from it's original state being just the Luz bone, and brings it to life not through a pregnancy (which is a miracle of its own, but one that we can grasp to some extent) but from the dry inanimate earth. Considering the enormity of that miracle, the ability to come out of the ground, while perplexing, should not be a difficult bonus for G-d to throw in while He is at it. Reply

Regina Wellington, FL June 20, 2012

I want to know when the Moshiac comes how will all the dead people get out of their graves when they are brought back to life? I'm being serious. A big heavy layer goes on top of the grave. Reply

Hany MTL, CA June 11, 2012

I heard this teaching. When Moschiah comes the Queen shall no longer have to be escorted !

Moshiach s here May His enemies be as dust for his feet as for David His Father ! Reply

David Levant Emerson, N.J. June 11, 2012

It's hard to rest when there are so many things to do in today's fast-paced and 24 hour a day,7 days a week world.I was never Shabbat observant according to Jewish laws and customs,sacrificing Shabbat principles for worldly and sometimes selfish pursuits.Although I did try to"rest"one day a week,It was always in an unorthodox fashion. Watching football on Sunday,going to the horse races on Friday and Saturday whatever constituted "rest"for me is what I did.Looking back I have no regrets.Today I see myself as a person who works as much as possible and grab my rest when I can.As the song says...We have a long way to go and a short time to get there. Reply