Or, Memoria, Curia, and Luria: Minhag, Halacha, and Kabbalah.
The first section is from Rabbi Pinches Friedman, translated and made beautiful by Rav Dr. Baruch Fox. The item he sent me was longer, but I found this part to be most interesting, in that it highlights the ambivalence of the poskim regarding the Arizal's kabala-centric innovations. After this section, I begin my discussion.
In this week’s parsha, parshat Yitro, we read about the revelation at Mount Sinai, when the Almighty chose to give Yisrael the Torah and convey the Ten Commandments. In this essay, we wish to focus on the fourth commandment (Exodus 20,8): "זכור את יום השבת לקדשו". -- “Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.” Our sages of blessed memory expound this verse in the gemorah (Pesachim 106.) as pertaining to the mitzvah of Kiddush: "זכור את יום השבת לקדשו, זוכרהו על היין בכניסתו, אין לי אלא בלילה ביום מנין, תלמוד לומר זכור את יום השבת ביום". We sanctify and remember the Shabbos over wine, both at night and during the day.
Thirty-five Words in "ויכולו" and Thirty-five Words in the Beracha of Kiddush
The Magen Avraham (271,22) writes in the name of the Arizal (Shaar HaKavanot) that the Kiddush formula contains seventy words—thirty-five in the paragraph of "ויכולו" and thirty-five in the actual berocheh. The source for this is found in the Zohar hakadosh (Intro. 5:):
The Kabbalists and most Chassidim follow the custom of the Arizal; the customs of the Chasam Sofer mention that the Ksav Sofer, zts”l, also followed this custom, and here is the formula:
In Shaar HaKavanot, the Arizal goes on to say:
Nevertheless, it is quite clear that every individual is obligated to follow the custom of his father and his Rabbis, as the Magen Avraham, the great possek, writes:
We also find in the Likutei Maharich:
In other words, even though the Arizal instructs us not to include the additional words כי בנו בחרת ואותנו קדשת מכל העמים, they are included in the formula found in Ashkenaz siddurim as well as the siddurim of Rav Amram, the Rambam, the Machzor Vitri, the Maharil and the Avudraham.
(end quote from Rav Friedman; now back to me.)
We find this approach often in the Magen Avraham. For example: the Magen Avraham says that the two mentions of the word נא (Na) in Shmone Esrei are incorrect, because the psukim they are drawn from do not have the word na in them. (Obviously, they were put in there because Moshe Rabbeinu's tefilla for his sister used na twice, and mekubalim say that using na twice empowers a tefilla.) Nevertheless, the Magen Avraham says that one should daven as his father did; that even though the nusach is wrong, it is better to follow your minhag and say the 'technically' incorrect nusach.
It goes without saying that there are limits to this rule. In the balance between accuracy of nusach and fealty to minhag, the Magen Avraham holds that the latter is more important. When we say tefillos, even though we only perceive our own voice, in truth our voice joins the chorus of the voices of our fathers and grandfathers all the way back to Mattan Torah; we are all speaking as one and Hashem hears us as one (Yafeh tefillas tzadik ben tzadik....). On the other hand, in matters of issur and hetter, minhag might not be the dominant consideration (see Maseches Sofrim 14:18 for the oft-quoted statement מנהג עוקר הלכה, and Tosfos, Menachos 20b dh Nifsal ומנהג אבותינו תורה היא, and for a thorough discussion see OC 690 Be'er Heitev sk 15 that begins with a quote from the Magen Avraham regarding the Rama's mention of the minhag that children make noise when the name Haman is read during the Megilla. Bottom line is, don't be such a curmudgeon, and let the kids have a good time.)
Another interesting point about the Arizal's nusach is the following:
Reb Tzadok in his sefer on the Torah, in Parshas Yisro, #5, points out that the Zohar's formula has thirty five words, while that of the Arizal has forty two words. Reb Tzadok explains that of the forty two, seven are repeated. These are ברוך, אתה, ה', בנו, ושבת, באהבה, וברצון. He says that the repetition means that the Kedusha that Klal Yisrael infuses into Shabbos, is an echo of the Kedusha from Hashem, that they recognize that whatever they can give came from the Ribono shel Olam. That's the last of the paragraph that I understand.
Here is the rest of the Drasha Reb Baruch sent me. I put it in small font to make clear the distinction between his words and mine.
The Seventy Nations: אל"ה מול אל"ה
We wish to provide a deeper understanding of the Friday night Kiddush, according to the opinion of the Zohar hokadosh and the Arizal—reciting a formula comprised of two segments, each containing thirty-five words. Let us first introduce a teaching of the Bnei Yissoschar (Shabbos 1,10) explaining a quote from our blessed sages (Shabbos 118:): "אלמלי שמרו ישראל שבת ראשונה לא שלטה בהן אומה ולשון"—“If the people of Yisroel had only kept the first Shabbos, no nation or people would have ever ruled over them.” He bases his teaching on the words of the Megaleh Amukot (Lech Lecha) pertaining to the “covenant of the parts” (Bereishis 15,10):
"ויקח לו את כל אלה ויבתר אותם בתוך".—“He took all of these to Him, and he split them in the center.”
It is known that there are seventy guardian angels above, split into two groups—thirty-five on the left side of kedushah led by סמא"ל, the guardian angel of Eisav, and, opposite them, thirty-five on the right side of kedushah, led by רה"ב, the guardian angel of Yishmoel.
These seventy guardian angels can be represented as אל"ה opposite אל"ה, i.e. ל"ה, thirty-five nations on the right with their leader, their א', opposite ל"ה, thirty-five nations of the left with their leader, their א'. This is the allusion in the verse cited above: "ויקח לו את כל אלה" –he took the two sets of אל"ה comprising the seventy nations and their heads--"ויבתר אותם בתוך"—he split them in two halves and placed Yisroel between them. This is also alluded to in the verse (Tehillim 20,28): "אלה ברכב ואלה בסוסים"-- corresponds to the two sets of אל"ה representing the seventy nations--"ואנחנו בשם ה' אלקינו נזכיר—refers to Yisroel.
The Megaleh Amukot tosses in a wonderful insight. This division between the nations explains why the holy nation of Yisroel’s day of rest is Shabbos kodesh. In stark contrast, the Moslems’, the descendants of Yishmoel, celebrate their holy day on Friday, to the right of Shabbos kodesh; whereas, the holy day of the Christians, descendants of Eisav, is Sunday, to the left of Shabbos kodesh; Yisroel again occupy the central position, having been allotted Shabbos kodesh to sanctify and cherish.
Based on this concept, the Bnei Yissoschar points out that the sanctity of Shabbos, located centrally between these other nations’ holy days, nullifies the negative forces of Yishmoel and Eisav (and the seventy nations beneath them) to its right and its left. This is how he explains the teaching: “If the people of Yisroel had only kept the first Shabbos, no nation or people would have ever ruled over them.” Had they kept the very first Shabbos, they would have nullified the negative forces of Eisav and Yishmoel to the left and right of Shabbos kodesh and the roots of the seventy ministering angels. As a result, no nation would have ever been able to rule over them.
Shabbos Kodesh Separates the Negative Forces of Yishmoel and Eisav
We see that Shabbos kodesh acts like an iron curtain separating the legions of Yishmoel and Eisav and preventing them from joining forces. This is the meaning of the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 71:):
"פיזור לרשעים הנאה להם והנאה לעולם". By separating the forces of evil, the powers of kedushah of Yaakov triumph over them and the entire world benefits.
This in my opinion, is what Yisroel’s sweet psalmist is alluding to in "מזמור שיר ליום השבת" which is entirely based on praise for the holiness of Shabbos (Tehillim 92,10): "כי הנה אויביך ה' כי הנה אויביך יאבדו יתפרדו כל פועלי און".. We can deduce from the repetition of the phrase "כי הנה אויביך" that Dovid homelech is teaching us an important lesson concerning the power of Shabbos and its ability to separate the evil forces of Yishmoel and Eisav. "כי הנה אויביך ה'"
“For behold Your enemies, Hashem” refers to the thirty-five nations on the right side led by Yishmoel;
"כי הנה אויביך יאבדו" , “For behold Your enemies shall perish,” refers to the thirty-five nations on the left side led by Eisav; "יתפרדו כל פועלי און", “All evil-doers shall be dispersed,” due to the sanctity of Shabbos standing between them, they will all be eliminated.
This coincides beautifully with the verses of the poem "אזמר בשבחין" instituted by the Arizal to be sung on Friday night: "ימינא ושמאלא ובינייהו כלה". "ימינא" alludes to the thirty-five nations on the right side headed by Yishmoel’s ministering angel; "ושמאלא" alludes to the thirty-five nations on the left side headed by Eisav’s ministering angel;
"ובינייהו כלה" alludes to the Shabbos kallah and queen standing between them and keeping them apart.
This also sheds light on our understanding of the concept of תוספת שבת –extending the sanctity of Shabbos upon ushering her in and ushering her out. By ushering Shabbos in early on Friday night, and extending Shabbos into the domain of the children of Yishmoel’s holy day, we subdue their negative forces to the right of the kedushah. By delaying the end of Shabbos, we draw kedushah into the domain of the children of Eisav’s holy day and, thus, subdue the negative forces to the left of the kedushah. These two supplements, תוספת שבת, in effect subdue the roots of all the seventy nations.
Yishmoel Is the Negative Aspect of “Chesed” Eisav Is the Negative Aspect of “Gevurah”
Our explanation of this concept that Shabbos possesses the power to negate the two negative forces of Yishmoel and Eisav, can be expanded even further. Let us first explain why Yishmoel’s ministering angel is on the left side, while Eisav’s ministering angel is on the right side, and Shabbos kodesh stands in the middle separating them. The Megaleh Amukot (beginning of Vayeitzei) explains, in the name of the kabbalists, that Yishmoel and Eisav represent the impurities and refuse separated out from the attributes of “chesed” and “gevurah” (severity). Yishmoel represents the impurities of “chesed,” since he utilizes this attribute to pursue inappropriate, illicit relationships and desires of this mundane world. He is, therefore, the impure derivative of Avraham’s “chesed” of kedushah on the right side.
In contrast, Eisav represents the negative side of “gevurah.” He utilizes this attribute to justify murdering those who get in his way. Consequently, his father Yitzchak, upon seeing gehinom enter with him, declares (Bereishis 27,40):
"ועל חרבך תחיה". Eisav, who derives from Yitzchak, gevurah of kedushah, is therefore on the left side. “Chesed” represents the right side and “gevurah” the left. So, Yishmoel, representing the impure aspect of “chesed,” is located on the right; while, Eisav, the impure aspect of “gevurah,” is located on the left.
The gemorah (Shabbos 118.) teaches that Shabbos is the portion and legacy of Yaakov Ovinu. It is well known that his attribute is “tiferet,” the combination and balance of “chesed” and “gevurah.” We can now understand how the kedushah of Shabbos—the portion of Yaakov Ovinu who represents the balance of “chesed” and “gevurah”—possesses the power to nullify both Yishmoel—the negative aspect of “chesed,” on the right—and Eisav—the negative aspect of “gevurah,” on the left.
It is now clear, why the Friday night Kiddush contains seventy words—thirty-five in the paragraph of “Vayechulu” and thirty-five in the Kiddush berocheh. They correspond to the thirty-five nations on the right, led by Yishmoel, and the thirty-five nations on the left, led by Eisav, which are nullified by the kedushah of Shabbos.
This is the meaning of the words of the Zohar hokadosh quoted above:
"ויכולו יש בו שלשים וחמש תיבות, ובקידוש שאנו מקדשים שלשים וחמש תיבות, ועולים לשבעים שמות של הקב"ה, וכנסת ישראל מתעטרת בהם" The seventy names of the Almighty are to vanquish the seventy nations. On Shabbos kodesh the Divine Presence adorns Herself with these seventy names to subdue the thirty-five nations on the left and thirty-five nations on the right.
We can also provide a sweet explanation for the teaching in the Tikunei Zohar (Tikun 24, 69.) that it is customary to add two more words to Kiddush, "סברי מרנן". By doing so, we end up with seventy-two words in kiddush, equivalent to the numerical values of ויכל"ו and also ביי"ן.
"וצריך לברכא לון ולקדש לון בקידוש על היין, בשבעין תיבין דקידוש ויכ"לו כחושבן ביי"ן, וצריך למימר סברי מרנן".
The reason for this custom is easily explained based on what we have learned. The thirty-five nations on the right are led by the ministering angel of Yishmoel; while the thirty-five nations on the left are led by the ministering angel of Eisav. If we include these two ministering angels, we arrive at a total of seventy-two. Therefore, between the thirty-five words of "ויכולו" and the thirty-five words of the berocheh, we add the two words "סברי מרנן" to counteract and eliminate the two leaders, themselves, of the seventy ministering angels.
The Two Parts of Kiddush Correspond to the Written Law and the Oral Law
Following this path, let us develop one more idea concerning our blessed sages’ decision to divide the seventy words of Kiddush in this manner, specifically. The thirty-five words in the paragraph "ויכולו" are found in the written Torah; whereas, the thirty-five words of the Kiddush berocheh were formulated by our sages of blessed memory. We find in the Tikunei Zohar (Intro. 11:) that the written law emanates from the right side, the attribute of “chesed”; while the oral law emanates from the left side, the attribute of judgment.
It turns out, that the written Torah negates the negative forces of Yishmoel which are also affiliated with the right side; whereas, the oral Torah serves to negate the negative forces of Eisav which are, similarly, associated with the left side. This insight sheds light on the deeper purpose of this Rabbinic enactment. They instituted a two-part formula for Kiddush. The first part contains the thirty-five word paragraph of "ויכולו" which appears in the written Torah and is designed to nullify the thirty-five nations on the right side—the negative forces led by Yishmoel.
Additionally, they, the sages of the oral Torah, instituted the Kiddush berocheh, also containing thirty-five words. This formula, an illustration of the oral Torah emanating from the left, is designed to nullify the thirty-five nations on the left—the negative forces of Eisav.