Monday, June 4, 2012

The Need for Repetition

Someone once asked the Divrei Yechezkel of Shinova, zt”l, to explain the custom to say the invocation of “Askinu Seudasa” of Melaveh Malkah three times. “After all, we say a similar nusach at every other meal on Shabbos only once. Why specifically regarding melaveh malkah do we say this three times?” The Divrei Yechezekel’s reply was based on a halachic practice described our sages. “The sages enacted a very interesting ceremony for the cutting of the omer. When it grew dark, each reaper would ask if it was night and the crowd would answer, “Yes.” This was repeated three times. The reapers would ask “Is this a sickle?” Again the crowd would answer, “Yes.” This was also repeated three times. “Should I reap?” “Yes.” “The Mishnah explains why such elaboration was deemed necessary. The Baitusim only believed in the validity of the written Torah. Since the verse says to bring the omer, 'ממחרת השבת'—‘the day after Shabbos,’ they believed that we should wait until the Sunday after Pesach. To ingrain in the simple folk that our sages had a tradition that the omer must be cut the day after Pesach, each question and answer was repeated three times. “The same is true regarding melaveh malkah which is highly neglected by the masses. Chassidim say the Askinu Seudasa of Melaveh Malkah three times to ingrain in anyone nearby that the fourth meal of Shabbos is also obligatory. This emphasizes the importance of this mitzvah to a person and his family so that he will not learn from the ignorant who ignore this precious mitzvah.”

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