Friday, January 04, 2008

Shalom Aleichem... Tzeischem l'Shalom: why goodbye so soon?

I can’t end the week on such a cynical note as the last post – it just doesn’t feel right. Every Friday night Jews sing Shalom Aleichem and welcome the angels of Shabbos into their home. Neicha that we say Shalom Aleichem…Bo’achem l’Shalom…Barchuni l’Shalom… but why Tzeischem l’Shalom? Such a short visit – we started singing 3 minutes ago with a big hello and already it’s a Tzeischem l’Shalom, goodbye?

I want to preface the Shem m’Shmuel’s answer to this kashe with a different vort. The gemara (Beitzah 16) darshens from the pasuk “vayinafash – vay avdah nefesh” that on Shabbos a person receives a neshoma yeseira. The question is asked (the Sefas Emes in Braishis quotes this kaske from the Besh’T): “vay avdah nefesh” is the pain we feel when the neshoma departs, but the pasuk of “vayinafash” is written by the beginning of Shabbos, not the end?

The Sefer Emes in Braishis gives one answer to this, but if you remember the kashe when P’ Shmini rolls around, he has a better (or so it seems to me) answer. A person, says the Sefas Emes, can only have three levels of neshoma manifest in him at any one time. Normally, a person has the lower nefesh operating all week + two higher levels. When Shabbos rolls around, something has to give to make room for the neshoma yeseira. Therefore, before Shabbos starts, the normal “weekday” of the neshoma must depart. “Vayinafash – vay avdah nefesh” is our little cry of pain as that weekday nefesh leaves us at the start of Shabbos, but we quickly recover as the neshoma yeseira makes its presence felt.

Explains the Shem m’Shmuel: as a person moves to higher madreigos, they “interact” with different levels of malachim (interpret that any way you like) according to their level. Shabbos lifts each of us to a higher level, and so as Shabbos starts not only do we welcome the Malachim of Shabbos which guide us through the day, but we also bit farewell, Tzeischem l’Shalom, to the “weekday” Malachim that have helped us through the previous week.

This same yesod appears in many other places, but in a nutshell, a person can’t say I’m the same person on Satuday that I am on Tueday, Friday, or Monday, just I can’t do melacha. The idea of Shabbos is that on that day a person is a different gavra entirely.


  1. This is why Sephardim say "B'tseitchem Leshalom", meaning that whenever they should choose to depart, we bid them farewell.

  2. Anonymous1:31 PM

    I know there are many answers to this question but one that I heard is that we are not saying hello and goodbye to the same malachim -- we are saying hello to the shabbos malachim and goodbye to the weekday malachim (similar to how Yaakov had malachim for EY and chu"l) -- we just dont say goodbye to the weekday malachim until we have first welcomed the shabbos malachim.

  3. That's the same answer as I am quoting from the Sh"mS. He also brings it up (as you noted) by the parsha of the malachim which escort ya'akov.