1. Sing from your heart! This will not only help you to enjoy zemiros more, but will eventually have an effect on your whole household. The greatest influence is through example. When they see how much Shabbos means to you, it will leave a lasting impression on their neshamos.
2. Take a few moments to learn the meaning of the zemiros and share it with your family. Then you can all sing with true feelings of thanks and praise to Hashem.
3. Choose tunes that you and your family enjoy.
4. Don’t force your children to sing with you – it will just backfire. You can ask them to either join you or sit quietly without disturbing the singing. A little bribery may help get them into the practice of singing. And obviously, getting angry at interruptions only ruins everything. Just go with the flow!
5. Timing is of the essence, so pick the right time to sing. This is something that differs from family to family. However, it is generally a good idea to sing one song at the beginning to set the tone of the meal. On the other hand, a song sung after filling ourselves with a sample of Hashem’s kindness will be sung with more feeling! And if you ever see that they are really enjoying the singing, use the opportunity to sing another one right away.
Let us end with an amazing Midrash in Shir Hashirim Rabbah (end of Chapter 8) just in case you ever get frustrated and wonder if it is really worth all these efforts: “When Klal Yisroel eat and drink, and then bless, praise and sing praises to Hashem, He listens to their voices and is appeased.”
R’ Yaakov Emden adds: “and those who say zemiros bring good to the world and Hashem attaches Himself to the person and hears his voice and is appeased and saves the world from destruction!” When you sing these songs, you have no idea what you may have just accomplished. Perhaps in your merit a childless couple received that long-awaited baby or that sick person was healed. And more importantly, you may have just saved the entire world. Now that’s something to sing about!
About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus, raised and educated in Los Angeles and subsequently Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim, is the Rosh Kollel of the Zichron Aron Yaakov Kollel in Kiryat Sefer , Israel. He lectures for the public and is the director of the Chasdei Rivka Free Loan Gemach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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