Love and Honor: Shabbos Davening

It is well know from the Sefer Kenesses HaGedolah and other sources that the three changes found the three Shmoneh Esrays of Shabbos davening relate to marriage.

  • 1-     In the Friday night Shmoneh Esray we say “V’Yanuchu Bah, rest on it (“her” refers to Shabbos, feminine).”
  • 2-     2- In Shachris we say, “V’Yanuchu Bo, (“him,” masculine).”
  • 3-     By Mincha we say, “V’Yanuchu Bam, (“them,” plural).”

This hints to the fact that Shabbos is the marriage so to speak between Hashem and Klal Yisrael.

Just as in a marriage, the celebration begins when the Chosson asks the Kallah to marry her and:

  • 1-     The L’Chaim is usually held in her house, this is why we begin Shabbos with “Bah, her.”
  • 2-     Next, the Chosson brings her into his home (canopy) and pronounces the marriage declaration and puts a ring on her finger, hence, “Bo, him.”
  • 3-     Finally, they live life together as a unified couple, “Bam, them.”

I recently was wondering about the fact that in the Mussuf Shmoneh Esray we say the words, “Bo, him.” This is in addition to the other above mentioned prayers. What is this all about?

I believe that something very deep is being expressed here. Both males and females have different needs. One of the strongest needs of a woman is to be loved. This is voted by women as the foremost quality of marriage. For a man, one of the strongest needs is to be respected. Obviously, both genders need both; the stress here is on the primary need. I believe that this is hinted in the construct of the Shmoneh Esreys.

First we mention “Bah, her”, because putting her first, shows how much she is loved. And next we mention “Bo, him.” But we say it twice, because the male ego begs for more respect! After each partner gave the other what they needed emotionally, this leads to “Bam, together!”