Shabbat Prayers: Pri Shabbat: Vayichulu
The 4th of Nisan is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yehuda Leib of Lublin, author of Pri Shabbat. He died on April 2, 1748. The Talmud (Shabbat 119b) teaches: R. Hamnuna said: He who prays on the eve of the Sabbath and recites “And [the heaven and the earth] were finished,” the Torah elevates him as though he had become a partner with the Holy One, Blessed is He, in the Creation, for it is said, Va-yechullu [and they – the Heaven & Earth – were finished]; read not va-yechullu ,but va-yekallu [and they – the partners – finished].
R. Eleazar said: How do we know that speech is like action? Because it is said, “By the
word of the Lord were the heavens made (Psalms 33:6).”
R. Hisda said in Mar ‘Ukba’s name: He who prays on the eve of the Sabbath and recites “and [the heaven and the earth] were finished,” the two ministering angels who accompany man place their hands on his head and say to him, “and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged (Isaiah 6:7).”
When the Talmud says, “read not va-yechullu ,but va-yekallu,” it relates to a teaching in the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 10:5): Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi taught that we learn from, “va-yechullu,” (which relates to the word, “Clal,” that which incorporates) that the process of creation began with a “Clal,” a general creation that continued to express itself in specific details until the Shabbat when, “va-yechullu,” all that was in the “Clal,” was expressed.
We must reflect on these teachings in the context of another teaching that, “Adam was not created until Friday so that they would not say that he was a partner in the creation of the world.” If it is true that the world continued to express its details right until Shabbat, that would mean that this expression of creation continued even after the creation of Adam; would that not raise the issue of Adam being present during some of the creation process, and leading to the impression that he was a partner in creation? Plus, we saw earlier that, “the Torah elevates him as though he had become a partner with the Holy One, Blessed is He, in the Creation,” we are encouraged to see humanity as partners in creation!
There is a difference between being a partner in creation of something from nothing, which is only possible for God, and being partners in the expression of the details of creation. We are encouraged to view ourselves as the latter; to live as though we are active participants in the unfolding of the original creation; the most powerful tool being our prayer.
When we rise and recite Va-yechullu in prayer, acknowledging God as the sole Creator, we are by definition participating in the unfolding of that creation; becoming God’s partner.