"יום הששי. ויכלו השמים"
“The sixth day. And the heavens were completed.”

QUESTION: Why does Kiddush start with the words “Yom hashishi” — “the sixth day” — which are the two final words of the pasuk (Bereishit, 1:31) that precedes “Vayechulu hashamayim” — “And the heavens were completed”?

ANSWER: With the words “Yom hashishi” added before “Vayechulu hashamayim,” the first letters of these four words spell the holy four lettered name of Hashem, the Tetragrammaton, (יום הששי ויכלו השמים). Also, together with these two words there are a total of seventy-two words in the Kiddush.

The connection of the number seventy-two with the Tetragammaton is that according to a certain way of writing out the four letters of His Name, the numerical value is seventy-two (יוד, הי, ויו, הי). In Kabbalah this is known as the shem ayin beit,” and with this composition of the Tetragrammaton, Hashem created the world.

Out of respect to His Name, even those whose custom is to recite Kiddush sitting down, stand while reciting the first four words.

(רמ"א סי' רע"א סעי' י', מג"א סקכ"ב, מטה משה סי' תל"ו)

Incidentally, the word “vayechulu” (ויכלו) — “were completed” — has the numerical value of seventy-two, alluding that heavens, earth, and everything in it were completed through the combination of the Name which totals seventy-two.

(סידור הגאונים והמקובלים ח"ה, ורמז לדבר, עולם חסד יבנה (תהלים פ"ט:ג) "חסד" בגימטריא ע"ב)

"יום הששי...לעשות. ברוך...אשר קדשנו...מקדש השבת"
“The sixth day...to make. Blessed...Who has sanctified us...Who sanctified the Shabbat.”

QUESTION: According to the Zohar (Shemot 207b) there are thirty-five words in the first part of Kiddush (from “vayechulu” till “la’asot”) and another thirty-five words in the berachah of Kiddush. How can our version of the berachah, which has forty-two words, be reconciled with the statement in the Zohar?

ANSWER: Some suggest omitting the seven words of, “Ki vanu vacharta ve’otanu kidashta mikal ha’amim” — “For You have chosen us and sanctified us from among all the nations” (Orach Chaim 271:10, Magen Avraham). Obviously, since Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi inserted them in the Kiddush, he does not favor this approach.

The opening seven words of the berachah, “Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olam asher are a general introduction to many berachot. In the berachah of Kiddush we are accentuating the sanctity of the Jews and the glory of Shabbat. Thus, the thematically unique part of the berachah begins with the words, “kideshanu bemitzvotov” — “sanctified us with His commandments.” Counting from the word “kideshanu” till the conclusion of the beracha “mekadeish haShabbat” there are a total of thirty-five words.

(שער הכולל פי"ח:ד', ובהשמטות. ועי' רשימות כ"ק אדמו"ר חוברת צ"ו סעי' ד')

"ויברך אלקים את יום השביעי"
“And G‑d blessed the seventh day.”

QUESTION: What special blessing did Shabbat receive?

ANSWER: Shabbat is a day when it is forbidden to work, yet one spends more money for Shabbat than for any other day of the week. A person may think that celebrating Shabbat properly will run him into poverty. Hashem, however, has given a special blessing to the Shabbat day: the more one spends for the sake of Shabbat, the more he will earn during the week.

The Gemara (Beitza 16a) says that the money a person will have for his expenses throughout the entire year is allotted on Rosh Hashanah. Exempted from this are his expenses for Shabbat and Yom Tov. If a person spends freely for Shabbat and Yom Tov, Hashem will provide him with additional sources of income to cover his expenditures.

(ברית שלום)

* * *

Another blessing that Shabbat possesses is “tasty dishes.” The Gemara (Shabbat 119a) relates that Caesar once asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya, “Why is it that the food cooked for Shabbat has such a penetrating aroma?” Rabbi Yehoshua told him, “We have one spice which is called Shabbat; we throw it into the food and it creates a penetrating aroma.” When Caesar asked for some of it, Rabbi Yehoshua said to him, “Whoever observes the Shabbat — for him the spice is effective, but it is not effective for one who does not observe the Shabbat.”

(עי' מד"ר בראשית י"א:ד)

"ויברך אלקים את יום השביעי ויקדש אותו"
“And G‑d blessed the seventh day and made it holy.”

QUESTION: According to the Midrash Rabbah (Bereishit 11:2) He blessed the seventh day with the manna. Of what relevance is this blessing in contemporary times, when there is no manna?

ANSWER: According to the Gemara (Yoma 75b) the manna was a very refined food and it contained absolutely no waste material. It was absorbed totally in the person, and there was no need to defecate. Thus, the Jews were physically elevated and refined through the manna.

It is stated in the Jerusalem Talmud (Demai 4:1) that the holiness of Shabbat permeates the person to the extent that out of fear of Shabbat even a wicked person will not say a lie. Hence, the Shabbat has manna quality in it and it too elevates and refines physical man in this mundane world. Even in contemporary times the seventh day — Shabbat — is blessed with a “manna” quality.

(לקוטי שיחות ח"ד ע' 1035)

"ושבת קדשו באהבה וברצון הנחילנו... ושבת קדשך באהבה וברצון הנחלתנו"
“And has given us, in love and goodwill, His holy Shabbat as a heritage...And with love and goodwill You have given us Your holy Shabbat as a heritage.”

QUESTION: Why the redundancy?

ANSWER: The Yom Tov Kiddush starts “Asher bachar banu mikol am” — “He chose us from among all peoples” — but the Shabbat one does not. The Beit Yosef (271) explains that Shabbat was first given to the Jews in Marah prior to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai (Sanhedrin 56b). Until the receiving of the Torah, we did not yet entirely have the status of being the chosen people. Yom Tov, on the other hand, was given only at Sinai, and, therefore, the Kiddush begins “Asher bachar banu.

Hence, in our Kiddush the first mention of receiving the Shabbat (without mentioning that we are a chosen people) refers to the Shabbat He commanded us at Marah. The second reference to receiving Shabbat, which follows the statement that we were chosen from among all peoples, refers to the commandment of Shabbat at Mount Sinai, when we received it for a second time and became His chosen people.

"ושלחן עם נהמא בצפונא ארשין"
“And a table with bread shall I place in the north.”

QUESTION: Why is the table placed in tzafon — the north?

ANSWER: The “bread” on the table is a medium by which one exhibits his wealth and success. The word “tzafona” (צפונא) is not only the northward direction, but can also mean “hidden.” On the night of Pesach, for instance, the afikoman we eat at the end of the meal is called tzafun (צפון) because it is hidden throughout the entire seder.

Putting the table in tzafon — north — is a reminder to keep one’s wealth and success concealed. A person should pursue a modest lifestyle and avoid flaunting his wealth and success in the eyes of others. Otherwise, animosity and jealousy may be aroused and also an “evil eye,” which may have an adverse effect.

(עי' כלי יקר דברים ב:ג-ד)

"נעביד להון כתרין במלין יקירין בשבעין עטורין דעל גבי חמשין"
“We fashion crowns for them from precious words; seventy crowns which transcend the fifty.”

QUESTION: What are the “seventy,” and what are the “fifty,” and what is the connection between them and “milin yakirin” — “precious words”?

ANSWER: According to the Gemara (Arachin 15b) lashon hara — evil talk — causes nega tzara’at — plague of leprosy. The word“nega” — “plague” — has in it the letter “nun,” which has the numerical value of fifty, and the letter ayin,” which has the numerical value of seventy.

On Shabbat there is a mitzvah of oneg delight. The words “nega” (נגע) — “plague” — and oneg (ענג) — “delight” — are spelled with the same three letters. The only difference is that in one the“nun” is at the beginning and the ayin is later, and in the other the “ayin” is at the beginning and the “nun” comes later. (When the words are written vertically in ענג the “ayin” is on top and the “nun” is beneath while in נגע the “nun” is above and the “ayin” is beneath.)

On Shabbat, a day of rest from mundane activities, a person has much free time and should keep busy with milin yakirin — precious words — i.e. Torah study and davening. Unfortunately, some do not use their time properly and engage in idle talk, and the conversation may ultimately turn to lashon hara.

Thus, the Arizal is saying that on Shabbat one should make crowns from “milin yakirin” — “precious words” — and avoid speaking words of lashon hara. Hence, instead of “nega,” in which the “nun” (50) is above the “ayin” (70), one will experience“oneg,” in which the “ayin” (70) transcends the “nun” (50).

(סידור מונקאטש)

"שכינתא תתעטר בשית נהמי לסטר בווין תתקטר"
“May the Shechinah be surrounded with the six loaves on each side. And may they correspond to the two sets of six loaves.”

QUESTION: What are the “vavin”?

ANSWER: On the table in the Beit Hamikdash were the “lechem hapanim” which consisted of twelve challot, six on each side of the table. The challot would stay on the table the entire week, and every Shabbat the old challot would be removed and replaced with fresh ones.

To commemorate this, some people place twelve challot on the Shabbat table. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 274, Sha’arei Teshuva.) Others place two oblong shaped challot lengthwise before them, so that they look like two “vavim” ("ו"), each with the numerical value of six, for a total of twelve.

(עיטורי תורה, ויקרא)

In light of the above, it may be explained that the Arizal is referring to the custom of the Kabbalists who place twelve chalot on their Shabbat table and who thereby merit that the shechinah unites itself with them.

Even ordinary Jews who are not versed in the secrets symbolized by the twelve challot achieve unification with the Shechinah because they put two oblong shaped challot that each resemble a vav ("ו"), which is one of the letters of the Tetragrammaton, and two “vavin” together have the numerical value of twelve.

(דברי יחזקאל)