The Torah informs us that Hashem himself sanctified Shabbos and endowed
it with his Kedusha (Holiness). As we note in the Shabbos Kiddush, this was
God's sign of the bond that exists between the Jewish people and Him. And
despite the fact that logic dictates otherwise - that Shabbos which refers to
the completion of the world should apply between God and ALL mankind - it
remains part of our special connection to Hashem (See Aruch Hashulchan, O.C.
The Torah Temimah (Devarim 5:12) adds that this is why unlike the other
themes of Yom Tov, Shabbos is unique in highlighting the concept of Ahava
(Love). Namely, the acceptance of Shabbos by the Jews was a solidification of
the love that exists between Hashem and each member of Klal Yisrael.
Rav Shalom Rosner (Rav of Nofei HaShemesh - See Sefer Eshei Hashem) once
noted that the love of Shabbos is demonstrated through the process of Shabbos
preparation. Citing the Rambam (Hil. Shabbos 30:2), Rav Rosner noted that washing ones hands and face and dressing for Shabbos are expressions of
the love of Shabbos. He further noted that these are also the parameters of
preparation for Tefillah (See Hil. Tefillah chap. 4). What connection exists
between Tefillah and Shabbos that might explain why the preparatory steps for
both mimic one another?
Rav Soloveitchik (Shiurim L'Zecher Abba Mori vol. I: 62-63) suggested
that both are times when man finds himself L'fnei Hashem - in the direct
presence of Hashem. Preparing for these moments helps man to reflect and realize
that these times are precious and not to be wasted. The Shabbos experience is a
25 hour extended day prayer service whereby man brings hashem into his life
May we merit the benefit of Shabbos and speedily experience the day that
is Yom SheKulo Shabbos.
VaYechulu: Testimony or testing the crowd
The Talmud (Shabbos 119b) notes that all must say VaYechulu on Friday
evenings. The Talmud goes so far as to note that doing so allows the individual to be a partner in the creation of the world. The
Gemara adds that when one says Vayechulu, the 2 angels that accompany man on
Shabbos place their hands on his head and announce that his Sins are forgiven.
Accordingly, when the matter is codified in Shulchan Aruch, it is noted
that the practice is to repeat VaYechulu again after the Shemoneh esrai on
Friday night (O.C. 268:7).
The Kaf HaChaim (O.C. 265:34) notes that the number 3 is significant and
that VaYechulu should be recited 3 times. He brings 4 reasons as to why that is
so: Firstly, the Midrash notes that VaYechulu can atone for sins like the Para
Aduma and the word Asher appears 3 times in both sections. Second, it is
testimony to the fact that Hashem created 3 wrolds (elyon, Tachton and Emtzaee).
Third, When something is recited thrice, it is meant. And finally, there is a
deep Kabbalaistic significance to the recitation which cannot be altered.
But why the additional repetition after Shemoneh Esrai? And what about the person who doesn't finish in time?
The Tur (O.C. 268) cites three reasons for the extra VaYechulu. 1) it
was instituted for the weeks when Yom Tov begins on Shabbos and VaYechulu is not
said in Shemoneh Esrai. Once it was started it was added to all other weeks. 2)
It was instituted to help those who couldn't say it on their own and 3) it was
offered as testimony to God on the creation of the world. (The Rosh is the
source for this last explanation - see Rosh to perek 10 of Pesachim Siman 15).
Based on the last explanation provided by the Tur, the Taz (268:10)
notes that when one recites VaYechulu he must do so aloud and as part of a group
since testimony in Judaism requires a group. Accordingly, the Mishna Berurah
(See 268:19) notes that if one were to get to VaYechulu and be Davening alone,
he should not repeat it. In fact many Poskim encourage people to daven somewhat
faster on Friday nights to enable them to say VaYechulu with the Tzibbur.
The Chazon Ish (O.C. 38:10) differed with this position. He notes that there are 3 reasons for the practice of saying
VaYechulu and in truth we do not require Eidus in the other times we say it
(i.e. the silent Shemoneh Esrai and in the quiet confines of our home abodes).
Accordingly, he rules that one should NOT seek out additional people in order to
say VaYechulu if the Tzibbur happens to pass him by. (Hagaon Harav Asher Weiss
Shlita noted that the Rosh which is the source of this explanation never
mentions Kol Rom seemingly noting that one need not apply Dinei Eidus to the
Bottom line, whether one must repeat VaYechulu is open to serious
discussion but the keeping of "Eidus" should not come at the expense of the
order of Tefilla or answering Kaddish.