A Jewish / Hebrew term meaning "The Shabbat (Sabbath) of Blessing". Used specifically to refer to the Shabbat before Rosh Hodesh, the first day of a new Jewish month.
During the Shacharit (morning service) in the Synagogue, a few extra prayers are inserted after Kriat HaTorah (the reading of the Torah) on the Shabbat before the first day of the new month. If Rosh Hodesh falls on Shabbat, the prayers are said the week before. They are not said the week before Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. So they are said 11 times throughout the Jewish year, or 12 times in a leap year.
The person leading the prayers, or the Rabbi, starts off by saying the first few words of this prayer out loud, and everybody else then says it quietly to themselves. Once most of the people have finished, the leader says it out loud in Hebrew for everybody to hear.
May it be your will, oh Lord our G-D and G-D our fathers, to renew this month to us for good and for a blessing. May You give to us long life, a life of peace, a life of goodness, a life of blessing, a life of sustenance, a life of physical health, a life in which there is fear of heaven and fear of sin, a life in which there is no shame or humiliation; a life of wealth and honor, a life in which we love Torah and fear God; a life in which the Lord fulfills the requests of our hearts for good. Amen. Selah.
After that, everybody recites the following paragraph, again followed by the leader.
The One who performed miracles for our forefathers and redeemed them from slavery to freedom, may He redeem us soon and gather in our exiles from the four corners of the earth; then all Israel shall be friends. Let us say: Amen.
At this stage, in many Synagogues, the exact time and date of the Molad (the appearance of the New Moon) in Jerusalem is announced. The leader then takes the Sefer Torah and makes the formal announcement of the day on which Rosh Hodesh is, in Hebrew.
Rosh Hodesh (name of the Hebrew month) will be on the day (Hebrew day of the week) that comes to us and to all Israel for good.
Sometimes both the last day of the previous month and the first day of the new month are counted as Rosh Hodesh, and in this case, both days are mentioned.
The congregation repeats this declaration, and then recites the following, followed by the leader. When the leader recites it, everybody says "Amen" at the three points indicated and at the end.
May the Holy one, Blessed be He, renew this month to us and to all Israel - for Life and for Peace (amen), for happiness and rejoicing (amen), for salvation and comfort (amen), and let us say amen.
Traditionally, this prayer is said to a different tune, something appropriate for each month. Some of them are as follows.
- Tishrei: Shabbat Mevarchin isn't recited.
- Cheshvan: Don't know.
- Kislev: To the tune of "Moaz Tzur", the song sung on Hanukah which falls in this month.
- Tevet: Often also to "Moaz Tzur" as Hanukah starts on the 25th of Kislev and is still going. But it has its own tune as well.
- Sh'vat: Don't know.
- Adar: To the tune of "Mi Sh'Nichnas Adar", a song sung on Purim which falls in this month.
- Nissan: To the tune of "Adir Hu", one of the songs from the Seder on Pesach which is in this month.
- Iyar: To the tune of the Hatikva, the Israeli National Anthem, as Yom Hatzmaut, Israeli independance day, falls in this month.
- Sivan: Don't know.
- Tamuz: Don't know.
- Av: An appropriate tune from the Kinot for Tisha B'av, the saddest day in the Jewish year, which falls in this month.
- Ellul: Don't know. Update, 4th Sep 2005... Shabbat Mevarchin Ellul was yesterday. The Chazzan did it to the tune of the last verse of Avinu Malcaynu, one of the key prayers in Selichot, and on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
If you know what tunes are used for the other months, please let me know!!
The service then continues with "Ashrei".