A local gun club, composed of members who belong to the same synagogue, dub themselves “The Shaleshuders.” Their punny reference to the third Shabbat meal, Seudah Shlishit, represents the Yiddishized pronunciation, “Shaleshudes.” Friday night dinner is famous in Jewish households for its matzah-ball soup, and Shabbat lunch boasts the cholent, but what of the lesser-celebrated third meal, Shalosh Seudot?
Growing up in California, my family shared Shalosh Seudot under the acacia trees and jasmine, beneath a slowly darkening sky. We sang songs and nibbled at salad and crackers. In high school we gathered in the dormitory lunchroom for rolls, salad, and fish. And we sang songs. What both locales shared was a palpable sense of spirituality, colored by an awareness that the sanctity and serenity of the day was slowly ebbing.
G-d elevated Shabbat in three ways. First He rested, then He blessed the day, and finally, He sanctified it. These reflect three ways in which we express ourself: in act, in deed, and in thought. Of these, thought is the most elevated and removed from the mundane. The Friday night meal connects to G-d’s resting (and we feel it, too!); Shabbat lunch connects with G-d’s blessing the day; Shalosh Seudot connects with G-d’s sanctification of the day. This is not a meal we eat with relish or appetite – it’s a feast for the soul, not the stomach.
The third meal is called Seudata Dimheimnuta - the meal of pure faith. As our voices joined together in meditative tunes, we felt transported to the realm of angels, where all time and physical presence fell away, and it was just us and G-d, united as one.