Prayer/Meditation

updated b

Lecha Dodi

Judaism's most popular Shabbat prayer-song,
composed by Rabbi Shlomo Alkebetz

translation and commentary by Rabbi Moshe Miller

 

Stanza 10

 

Come in peace, her Husband's crown of pride,
With song (on Festivals: rejoicing) and good cheer.
Among the faithful of the people so dear,
Enter O Bride, enter O Bride;
(
in an undertone: O Bride, Shabbat Queen, now come here!)

 

According to Shaar HaKavanot,(1) one should turn around to face the west before reciting, "Come in peace…." The first time one says the phrase "Enter O Bride" he should bow to the right, the second time to the left, and when reciting "O Bride, Shabbat Queen, now come here" he should bow to the middle.(2) The reason for facing west is, as our Sages state, "the Shechina is in the west".(3) Tiferet Shlomo(4) gives another reason: A tzadik has the power to elevate lost souls, and particularly on Shabbat eve when the worlds are elevated. Accordingly, it is customary to turn to face west when reciting this stanza, alluding to the lost souls that can now be elevated.

Come in peace: It is while reciting this stanza specifically that a person receives the additional soul given to every Jew on the Shabbat, as mentioned above. This should be one's intention when reciting this stanza.(5) Accordingly, it should be said with tremendous joy.(6)

Crown of pride: This is the Shabbat, which is a source of pride to the Holy One, Blessed be He, as the Talmud (Shabbat 10b) states, "A wonderful gift I have in My treasure-house, and Shabbat is its name."(7)

With song… rejoicing: Some have the custom to say "with rejoicing" on Shabbat as well, instead of "with song." However, Siddur HaArizal states that one should say "with rejoicing" only on Festival days.(8)

Enter O Bride, enter O Bride: As on says the words "enter O Bride" one should have the intention (kavana) that at this point one receives the additional Shabbat soul.(9)

"Enter O Bride" under the wedding canopy; "enter O Bride" to the home of her husband, the Jewish people.(10) Some have the custom to repeat the phrase "enter O Bride" three times. According to the Talmud (Bava Kama 32b) and Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 24, it should only be said twice. However, Shaar HaKavanot and Pri Etz Chaim state that it should be said a third time quietly (adding the words "Shabbat Queen"). The reason for whispering the final phrase is because it corresponds to the sefira of daat, which is generally not counted among the ten sefirot, whereas "enter O Bride" recited twice correspond to chochma and bina. (11)

Bride, Shabbat Queen: When the Shabbat, synonymous here with the Shechina, first begins to enter, it is referred to as "the bride". At this point, when the Shechina enters under the bridal canopy and becomes "married" to the Jewish people, who are compared to a king, she is called the "Shabbat Queen".(12)

Shabbat Queen: This was an addition made by the Arizal, based on the custom of Rabbi Chanina recorded in Bava Kama 32b.

 

Notes:

Inyan Kabalat Shabbat, drush 1.
2 See also Siddur Torah Or, Shaar Hakolel 17:8.
3 See Bava Batra 25a; Siddur Tzeluta d'Avraham.
4 Bereishit, parashat Chaya Sarah 24:11.
5 Pri Etz Chaim, Kabbalat Shabbat chap. 6. Hagahot u'Marei Mekomot to Shaar Hakavanot, Inyan Mizmor Havu states that the kavana here is specifically to receive the aspect of Nefesh. During Barchu one should have the kavana to receive the level of Ruach, and in the Uferos Aleinu before the Amida one should have the kavana to receive the level of Neshama.
6 Yesod v'shoresh HaAvodah, shaar 8, chap. 2.
The story is told that the Chacham Tzvi would dance and clap his hands vigorously during the recitation of this stanza. This did not find favor with a certain wealthy member of his community and he began mimicking the Chacham Tzvi. At that point, the man became insane, clapping his hands and dancing uncontrollably. He remained that way for the rest of his life.
7 Or HaBahir in Siddur HaGaonim v'HaMekubalim in the name of Siddur Avodat Yisrael.
8 See also Rabbi Yaakov Tzemach's note in Pri Etz Chaim Rabbi Moshe Zacuto in Igrot HaRamaz, siman 10.
9 Pri Etz chaim, Shaar HaShabbat chap. 6.
10 Maharsha, Chidushei Aggada, Babba Kamma 32b.
11 Shaar HaKavanot, Inyan Mizmor Havu; Nitzotzei Orot (Chida) on Zohar, vol. III, p. 272b.
12 Siddur Ya'abetz.

 

[go to Prayer Menu for commentary on other stanzas, and/or for the complete, original rhyming translation]

 

Rabbi Moshe-Leib Miller, a guest teacher at Ascent when he lived in Israel, was born in South Africa and received his yeshiva education in Israel and America. He is a prolific author and translator, with some twenty books to his name on a wide variety of topics, including a new, authoritative, annotated translation of the Zohar. He currently lives in Chicago.

 

Previous stanza
First stanza
Back to Prayer menuTo Kabbalah MenuTo Meditation Menu