There are many melodies to the traditional Shabbat song Shalom Aleichem. But the newest one out there is the last song written by acclaimed musician Debbie Friedman, who died about a year ago. Clergy across the country are pledging to sing Debbie’s version of “Shalom Aleichem” on Shabbat in a few weeks to honor her memory, and to teach this song to their congregations. (To watch Debbie’s version, click here, and to hear a few different versions, click here.)
What’s interesting about “Shalom Aleichem” is that it’s a song about angels. I never really think about angels as a Jewish concept (though as it turns out, they kind of are). The song is based on a story from a Talmudic legend.
Rabbi Yosi ben Yehuda taught: “Two ministering angels–one good, one evil–accompany every Jew from the synagogue to his home on the Sabbath eve. If they find the candles burning, the table set, and the bed covered with a spread, the good angel exclaims, ‘May it be God’s will that it also be so on the next Sabbath,’ and the evil angel is compelled to respond ‘amen.’ But if everything is disorderly and gloomy, the evil angel exclaims, ‘May it be God’s will that it also be so on the next Sabbath,’ and the good angel is forced to say ‘amen.'” Read the rest of this entry →