On Friday evening we yearn for the arrival of the Sabbath Queen, recalling the mystics of Safed who walked into the fields singing to greet her. The Queen is in the field, bringing love and comfort.
In Elul, the month before the High Holidays, the King is in the field. So taught Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad. The King’s place is in the palace, but in Elul the King comes to the fields to meet us. This is El Melekh Ne’eman, the Faithful Sovereign.
The Sabbath Queen is our metaphor of blessing and peace. The Faithful King is our metaphor of justice and forgiveness. Every Shabbat in Elul—beginning this Friday night—we can imagine the energy of a Faithful God, Creator of Shabbat, Sovereign of justice and mercy, coming through the fields to greet us.
Here’s a meditation for the four Shabbatot of Elul. For a fuller explanation, including pitfalls of these metaphors, see my essay on Ritualwell. The postscript is a calendar note on Rosh Chodesh Elul.
Queen and King
Come in peace,
Beloved of Israel,
Bringing sweet bread
And fine wine.
Come with grace,
Sovereign and loyal,
ידיד נפש Yedid Nefesh
Meet us in the fields of our days.
אבינו מלכנו Avienu Malkeinu,
Our Father our King,
Bless us with renewal.
מקור חיים Makor Hayyim,
Source of Life,
Show us the wells of living waters.
אל מלך נאמן El Melech Ne’eman,
Bring your realm of prosperity.
Let the glory of Shabbat dwell with us.
Let the hope of forgiveness enliven us.
Let the taste of rest comfort us.
Let the promise of renewal sustain us.
And we will glimpse the world to come as you bless us.
And we will become strong and humble in your Word.
The Queen is in the field.
The King is in the field.
They have come together,
To bless us,
To see us,
To sustain us
With their sacred power.
Greet them with music,
Greet them with dance,
Loving and keeping the Sabbath,
Doing the work of prayer and repentance,
With Torah and mitzvot,
With humility and passion,
And with songs of praise.
© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
Postscript: A technical note on the calendar. Rosh Chodesh Elul occurs on the last day of the month of Av and the first day of the month of Elul. So, while last Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Elul, it was actually Av 30, and therefore not a Shabbat in Elul. That is why the Elul recitation of Psalm 27 didn’t begin until Sunday.
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Postscript: The King and Queen metaphors are anthropomorphic, partial expressions of the many expressions of the Indivisible One, therefore useful but limited. Special thanks to Rabbi Bob Carroll and Rivkah Moriah for their thoughtful comments. The description of R’ Schneur Zalman’s use of the King metaphor is adapted from Chabad.org. The translation of El Melekh Ne’eman as “Sovereign Loyal God” is from the Nehalal Siddur.
Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.
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