The Shabbat Queen

We will read the poem “The Shabbat Queen” by Chaim Nachman Bialik to learn about the main aspects of Shabbat and the ceremonies and customs of the day, in the order of their occurrence from Friday evening through sunset on Saturday.

Resource Ages: 6-8, 9-11


שַׁבָּת הַמַּלְכָּה

חיים נחמן ביאליק

הַחַמָּה מֵרֹאשׁ הָאִילָנוֹת נִסְתַּלְּקָה –

בֹּאוּ וְנֵצֵא לִקְרַאת שַׁבָּת הַמַּלְכָּה.

הִנֵּה הִיא יוֹרֶדֶת הַקְּדוֹשָׁה, הַבְּרוּכָה,

וְעִמָּהּ מַלְאָכִים צְבָא שָׁלוֹם וּמְנוּחָה.

בֹּאִי, בֹּאִי, הַמַּלְכָּה!

בֹּאִי, בֹּאִי, הַמַּלְכָּה! –

שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם, מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם!


קִבַּלְנוּ פְּנֵי שַׁבָּת בִּרְנָנָה וּתְפִלָּה,

הַבַּיְתָה נָשׁוּבָה, בְּלֵב מָלֵא גִילָה.

שָׁם עָרוּךְ הַשֻּׁלְחָן, הַנֵּרוֹת יָאִירוּ,

כָּל-פִּנּוֹת הַבַּיִת יִזְרָחוּ, יַזְהִירוּ.

שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם וּמְבֹרָךְ!

שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם וּמְבֹרָךְ!

בֹּאֲכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם!


שְׁבִי, זַכָּה, עִמָּנוּ וּבְזִיוֵךְ נָא אוֹרִי

לַיְלָה וָיוֹם, אַחַר תַּעֲבֹרִי.

וַאֲנַחְנוּ נְכַבְּדֵךְ בְּבִגְדֵי חֲמוּדוֹת,

בִּזְמִירוֹת וּתְפִלּוֹת וּבְשָׁלֹש סְעֻדּוֹת.

וּבִמְנוּחָה שְׁלֵמָה,

וּבִמְנוּחָה נָעֵמָה –

בָּרְכוּנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם!


הַחַמָּה מֵרֹאשׁ הָאִילָנוֹת נִסְתַּלְּקָה –

בֹּאוּ וּנְלַוֶּה אֶת שַׁבָּת הַמַּלְכָּה.

צֵאתֵךְ לְשָׁלוֹם, הַקְּדוֹשָׁה, הַזַּכָּה –

דְּעִי, שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים אֶל שׁוּבֵךְ נְחַכֶּה…

כֵּן לַשַּׁבָּת הַבָּאָה!

כֵּן לַשַּׁבָּת הַבָּאָה!

צֵאתְכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם!

Foundations for Planning

Essential Questions

  • How can my actions make time sacred?
  • What makes time holy?
  • Why are holidays, rituals, customs, important to me, my family, and my community?

Content Questions Related to the Essential Questions

  • How is the “royalty” of Shabbat expressed?
  • How does the series of activities and actions done over Shabbat make the day special?

Background for Teacher

The poem “The Shabbat Queen” was written for children by Chaim Nachman Bialik. The structure of the poem is based on the piyyut (prayer song) “Shalom Aleichem” that is traditionally sung at the Friday night meal before kiddush. The last line of each verse...

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The poem “The Shabbat Queen” was written for children by Chaim Nachman Bialik. The structure of the poem is based on the piyyut (prayer song) “Shalom Aleichem” that is traditionally sung at the Friday night meal before kiddush. The last line of each verse is taken from that piyyut, which is based on the talmudic story that angels accompany people home from the synagogue on Friday night. The poem “The Shabbat Queen” also alludes to the kabbalistic custom of Kabbalat Shabbat. The custom of Kabbalat Shabbat is based on a talmudic text that says that sages would go out to welcome Shabbat as it was starting (Tractate Shabbat, page 119a). Through the poem, students can learn about what happens over the course of Shabbat and the main events of the day, from start to finish. The last verse, in which Shabbat ends and we say good-bye to the angels, is a reminder that as soon as Shabbat ends, we begin to look forward to the next Shabbat. Both the start of Shabbat and the end of Shabbat are symbolized by the sun setting over the trees. The sun sets every day, but the special customs and ceremonies of Shabbat transform this time into holy time.


Chaim Nachman Bialik (1873 ‒ 1934) was one of the great Hebrew poets and is considered Israel’s national poet. As a writer, journalist, translator, editor and publisher, he had a great influence on modern Hebrew culture.

Optional Hooks
In-Depth Discussion
Suggested Activities
Further Study
  • Bring a crown to class and put it on your head or on the head of one of the students. Ask the students what words can be used to describe you (or the student with the crown) at that moment. Additional questions that can be asked to specific students: How do I walk? In what kind of vehicle did I get here? Who accompanies me? What do I wear? Explain to the students that we will now learn about a different type of queen and see if we can use those words to describe her, too.
  • Bialik’s poem was put to music. Listen to a recording of the song. In higher grades, show the students the words, with or without translation, depending on the level of their Hebrew. You can also show this video of the song, which includes illustrations that depict the content of the poem. 
  • Prepare a list of ceremonies and events that occur over the course of a traditional Shabbat. Give this list to the students and then present them with the poem. Have the students match the different ceremonies and events with the parts of the poem that describe those ceremonies and events. Are there ceremonies that are not mentioned in the song?

Click here to view our consolidated list of suggested interactive pedagogies for classroom discussion.

  1. Why do you think that the poet chose to describe Shabbat with words like queen, holy, blessed and pure? What makes Shabbat like that?
  2. In your opinion, what elements of Shabbat are related to the idea that Shabbat is a queen?

For older students:

  1. Why do you think the poet chose to start and end the poem with a description of events occurring in nature?
  2. Over the course of Shabbat, some people perform different ceremonies that distinguish Shabbat from the other days of the week. Which ceremonies are mentioned in the poem? What other traditional ceremonies are you familiar with? Are there other Shabbat ceremonies that your family performs?
  3. What is the importance of actions and ceremonies that are unique to Shabbat?
  4. The poem emphasizes the series of ceremonies and actions, performed in a specific order, that characterize a traditional Shabbat. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a series of ceremonies and actions that is known ahead of time? What do you think is better: a set series of actions or spontaneous actions?
  5. In the poem, Shabbat is anthropomorphized: A queen enters our homes accompanied by angels who are invited to be guests in our homes. Why do you think the poet described Shabbat as a flesh-and-blood queen?
  6. Based on the words used to describe the angels, what is their job on Shabbat? In your life, what are the things that make Shabbat a time of peace and rest?
  7. What traditional ceremonies (e.g., kiddush, the singing of “Shalom Aleichem”, etc.) are mentioned in the poem?

These activities are designed to link the descriptions in the poem with the different elements of a traditional Shabbat.

  • Link the time at which Shabbat begins with the feelings and atmosphere of Shabbat, emphasizing how nature can influence our feelings. Show the students pictures of spectacular sunsets (starting from minute 8). Ask them what they feel when they see a sunset. Link the peaceful feelings that sunsets arouse in many people with the personal experience of the serenity of Shabbat. You can ask the students to illustrate this idea by drawing the Shabbat Queen against an appropriate background — the colors of a sunset.
  • For older students: Together with the students, prepare a timeline of the events of Shabbat, as they are described in the poem and based on the students’ existing knowledge. Ahead of time, prepare slips of paper with Shabbat customs and ceremonies. Have the students attach the slips of paper to the timeline, in the order that the customs are described in the poem. Discuss: Do you have a set Shabbat routine in your family or is every Shabbat different? If you do have a set Shabbat routine, how does that routine contribute to the experience of Shabbat? To what extent does it diminish the experience? What elements of the routine do you find particularly meaningful, important or enjoyable? Change the positions of the notes on the time line. How does the order of the ceremonies affect the flow of Shabbat? Are there elements that you would give up? Are there things that you would like to add to the routine?
  • Study the text “A Palace in Time”, which discusses Shabbat as a time of holiness (for grades 3 and up). Together with the students, discuss how the different Shabbat ceremonies help to create the ‘palace in time’ about which Heschel wrote.
  • Read the piyyutLecha Dodi” about welcoming Shabbat (for grades 3 and up). How is the poem “Shabbat the Queen” similar to the piyyut “Lecha Dodi”? How are the two works different from one another?
  • Study the song “Shalom Aleichem” which is quoted in Bialik’s poem, about welcoming angels on Friday evening.