[Avodah] Escorting the Queen

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Tue Jul 6 16:34:53 PDT 2021

Back in 2014, (https://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol32/v32n170.shtml#13) I
posted my confusion about Melave Malka. I perceived a contradiction between
escorting the Queen (for which the Queen must still be present) and doing
melacha (for which the Queen must already be gone).

In that thread, I wondered...
> if the true purpose of this seudah might have little or
> nothing to do with Shabbos. Could it be that the true
> purpose is to nourish that bone that doesn't decompose, or
> some other purpose, and "escorting the Queen" is merely a
> story for the masses?

A new idea came to me over Shabbos, and now, having reviewed that thread, I
see that it segues beautifully from how that conversation had ended. R'
Micha Berger had written:

> "Sheishes yamim ta'avod ve'asisa kol melkhatekha,
> veyom hashevi'i Shabbos Lashem E-lokekha."
> Working during the rest of the week is part of what
> Shabbos is about.

I had answered:

> Yes, but I don't see it as something to celebrate.
> We light a fire in Havdala; dayenu.

I now retract that dismissive response. Perhaps working during the rest of
the week *IS* something to celebrate.

I would like to suggest that the essence of Motzaei Shabbos' identity is
*not* its relation to the Shabbos that just ended, but its relation to the
week that is now beginning. More specifically, Motzaei Shabbos is the
anniversary of the creation of light, the anniversary of Creation

Perhaps the role of Melave Malka ìs not only about escorting the Queen.
Perhaps it is also (as I had always suspected) a celebration of Melacha.
Not that we can finally do melacha "again", but it is rather a celebration
of the *beginning* of the week. A new week has begun, and it is now our
task to spend the next six days getting ready for next Shabbos - as R'
Micha wrote above.

POSTSCRIPT: I see two problems with the above ideas. The main one is that
it is quite a departure from the traditional idea of "Escorting the Queen"
who is leaving. It answers my problems nicely, but I'd be more comfortable
with it if a similar idea was already in the seforim somewhere. Second, we
already have a mitzvah that explicitly commemorates the beginning of
Creation: the Ner. (I find it significant that we light the Ner every
single Motzaei Shabbos of the year - even on Yom Tov, even on Tisha B'Av.)
If I am correct that Melaveh Malka relates to the new week more than to the
departed Shabbos, then the Ner should be part of the Melave Malka. But it
isn't - it's part of Havdala.

All comments and suggestions are appreciated.

Akiva Miller
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