Friday, February 5, 2021

The Melave Malka and Moshiach Connection

 by Rabbi Benjy Simons

In this week’s Parsha [Yisro] we have the seminal section of the Ten Commandments together with the Sinai revelation. As last week we delved into the concept of the third meal on Shabbos, I thought it would be prudent to share some insights regarding the final meal associated with Shabbos and done after Havdalah known as the Melava Malka. According to the Rambam (Laws of Shabbos 29:1) the 4th Commandment of Remembering the Shabbos includes marking Shabbos both as it enters (which we do through Kiddush on Friday night) and when it concludes (which we do through Havdalah when Shabbos ends). 

We thus create a sense of balance of beginning the Shabbos with Kiddush with an associated meal and conclude the Shabbos with Havdalah and a light dinner. Interestingly, at both meals it is customary to wear our Shabbos clothes, light candles and even recite Shir HaMalos in Birchas HaMazon. In doing this we are symbolically honouring an important dignitary (i.e. the Shabbos) as he enters and leaves our home every Shabbos (Rashi). 

The Talmud (Shabbos 119b) mentions that having hot bread or hot water has medicinal purposes when consumed at the Melava Malka as well as long term benefits of sustaining a certain bone in the body (Luz) which is instrumental for the final resurrection. It is also encouraged to have meat at this meal, though many are lenient like the third meal on Shabbos to simply have a cooked dish or fruit together with a hot drink. 

Traditionally this meal is associated with King David as he used to make a celebratory meal each week following Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 30a-b) mentions that King David implored Hashem to know when he would pass away (see Psalms 39:5 and Pesachim 54b). Although he was denied this request, he was told that he would pass away on a Shabbos and hence each Motzei Shabbos he was relieved and confident that he was protected for a following week. 

An additional reason of why this meal is connected to King David, is also connected to the Messianic redemption to which the Gemara (Eruvin 43b) mentions that Moshiach (a descendant of King David) can’t come on Shabbos and hence after Shabbos we fervently pray for the possibility that Moshiach come. It is therefore customary to sing songs associated with Eliyahu HaNavi and share stories about our righteous ancestors in the hope and merit that we should be able to usher in the final redemption, may it happen speedily in our days.

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