3

I'm curious about the specific number 3 here. Is there a reason or "meaning" (such as from Zohar, etc.) as to why Vayechulu (Breishit 2:1-3) is said 3 times on Friday night (a non-Yom-Tov one)?

  • In the Amidah
  • After the Amidah prior to Magen Avot
  • As part of Kiddush at home
  • How many times do you want it to be said? If 3 was important wouldn't we say it 3 times on Yom Tov too? – Double AA May 1 at 15:42
  • Because it is so important. Whoever says veyechulu is testifying that G-d created the world and is forgiven of all his sins. We therefore say it once in the silent amida, then repeat it aloud for those who don’t know the prayers, than we say it at home for those who weren’t at the synagogue. This is from the abudraham. I don’t have it in front of me right now, so I’ll leave this as a comment. Feel free to look up the source and add it as an answer. – Menachem May 1 at 15:56
  • @Menachem Wouldn't the last one be sufficient? – Double AA May 1 at 17:00
  • My Shul only says it twice, even though we do say Kiddush in shul. – DonielF May 9 at 13:38
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    @DonielF You can't count Kiddush in Shul and Kiddush at home, since some people might make Kiddush multiple times at home or at different homes, etc. It's the same step. Similarly some people say Maariv twice on Friday night if they missed Mincha, but you don't count them. – Double AA May 9 at 14:55
8

This is a very old custom, which is cited in the Sefer Rokeach Hilkhot Shabat 49 by Eleazar of Worms.1 The meaning of the three is given by the Kaf haChayim in his commentary to Orach Chayim 268:34, saying that it refers to the three worlds (see here), the higher, the middle and the lower one:

ובצרור המור ט"א על ג"פ נגד ג' עולמות עולם עליון ואמצעי ותחתון לומר שהקב"ה ברא כולם.‏

This idea is already mentioned by R' Avraham Saba, who says in his commentary, Tzeror haMor2 that these three worlds are alluded in the word yom that occurs three times in Vaykhulu:3

וַיְכֻלּ֛וּ הַשָּׁמַ֥יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ וְכָל־צְבָאָֽם׃ וַיְכַ֤ל אֱלֹהִים֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה׃ וַיְבָ֤רֶךְ אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ אֹת֑וֹ כִּ֣י ב֤וֹ שָׁבַת֙ מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים לַֽעֲשֽׂוֹת׃

These worlds are relevant, because by reciting these verses we're partners with Hashem in the creation of the world according to Shabbat 119b:

דאמר רב המנונא, כל המתפלל בערב שבת ואומר ויכולו מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו נעשה שותף להקדוש ברוך הוא במעשה בראשית, שנאמר ויכולו אל תקרי ויכולו אלא ויכלו.‏

1 The source is cited in the Mishnah Berurah (45) to Orach Chayim 271:10
2 See penultimate row on page
3 I've found this source in the Beurei haTefilah newsletter

Kaf haChayim also gives another explanation citing another midrash. We read three times asher in Vaykhulu (also in bold above), the same number as it occurs in the verse about the red heifer (Numbers 19:2):

זֹ֚את חֻקַּ֣ת הַתּוֹרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהוָ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר דַּבֵּ֣ר ׀ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֣וּ אֵלֶיךָ֩ פָרָ֨ה אֲדֻמָּ֜ה תְּמִימָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר אֵֽין־בָּהּ֙ מ֔וּם אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹֽא־עָלָ֥ה עָלֶ֖יהָ עֹֽל׃

This is the statute of the law which the Hashem hath commanded, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer, faultless, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke.

Who says these verses atones for the sins commited, just as the red heifer purifies the uncleanliness:

ובמדרש אמר ג"פ אשר בויכלו כמו בפ' פרה אדמה להורות שהאומר ג"פ ויכלו מתכפר.‏

  • Excellent. This explanation makes more sense to me than the other one. – DanF May 1 at 17:20
  • I wonder if there’s a connection to Kibbud Av v’Eim, a Mitzvah given three times in the Torah (Marah, Shemos 20, and Devarim 6). That would provide a stronger connection between the three Mitzvos which were given at Marah. – DonielF May 9 at 14:41
2

The minhag of the Vilna Gaon (and his disciples) was not say the one preceding Amidah, due to concerns of Hefsek between the brachos and the Amida.


Nevertheless, the significance of saying it thrice is bought in the Or Zorua (שאלות ותשובות תשנב ט) from Medrash (שוחר טוב, דרוש מקור) - in correlation to the three times the word 'אשר' is quoted in Parshas Parah Aduma, to symbolize that Shabbos atones for sins like the Parah Aduma atoned for sins. (See also Ravya 196, Hagahos Maimonu [Tefilla 9.5]).

[I don't quite understand the signifigance of the 3 times Asher/Vayechulu, or the connection between Shabbos and that specific word, but that is the Midrash.]

  • Thanks for the research and the post. I don't understand the connection of the ideas any better than you. I surmise that the author of Ohr Zarua is no longer around - otherwise, I would probably email him to see if he could elaborate. – DanF May 1 at 16:19
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    Who says Vaykhulu before the Amida? – Double AA May 1 at 16:24
  • @DanF: He hasn't been replying to emails since c1270... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_ben_Moses_of_Vienna – chortkov2 May 1 at 16:31
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    @DoubleAA - Mistake. He refers to Veshomru, of course, which the Vilna Gaon did not say, but Ashkenazim worldwide fo. – chortkov2 May 1 at 16:34

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