Lecha Dodi: Symbolism & Significance

A symbolic hymn to greet the sabbath, “Lecha Dodi” remains an influential part of celebrating Shabbat.

“Lecha Dodi” is a traditional Jewish song that many people sing to welcome the coming of the sabbath. The song remains an integral part of Sabbath celebrations despite its creation being so long ago- in the 16th century! “Lecha Dodi” is well known for its mystical rhythm and symbolic lyrics. Traditionally sung on Friday nights, the Hebrew translation is the song’s original form, but there are English translations. To learn more about “Lecha Dodi,” its symbolism, and its history, then keep reading! In this article, you can learn more about:

  • * The song’s creator
  • * The purpose of “Lecha Dodi”
  • * The lyrics translated to English
  • * The song’s symbolism

The Song’s Creator

The song’s author, as mentioned before, is Rabbi Shelomo Halevi Alkabets. He lived in the 16th century in Tsfat– a city in Israel. He was a kabbalist who taught other famous kabbalists. Kabbalah is a discipline of Judaism that has to do with mysticism. The primary teaching of Kabbalah is to be less self- centered and to focus on others. Rabbi Alkabets, as a kabbalist, was a member of a circle of Safed mystics along with many other rabbis of that time.

Rabbi Alkabets included his name in the song lyrics as an acrostic. The first letter of all the verses in the Hebrew translation, when put together, spell out his name. It was a way of adding his signature to the work he created.

The Purpose of “Lecha Dodi”

“Lecha Dodi” translates directly to “come, my beloved.” On Fridays, the people sing the hymn to greet the sabbath, which occurs on Saturday. Rabbi Shelomo Halevi Alkabets wrote the song originally as a prayer that encourages people to embrace the sabbath.

The hymn emphasizes the importance of Jews’ relationship with the sabbath. The lead rabbi who practiced and taught mysticism- named Rabbi Isaac Luria- would greet the sabbath every week by going to an open field. With this practice, he demonstrated that if people want something to come into their life, then they must welcome it.

The Lyrics Translated to English

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.
“Observe” and “Remember,” in a single command, the One
God announced to us. The Lord is One, and his name is One, for
fame, for glory, and for praise.

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.

Come, let us go to meet the sabbath, for it is a source of bles-
sing. From the very beginning it was ordained; last in creation,
first in God’s plan.

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.

Shrine of the King, royal city, arise! Come forth from thy ruins.
Long enough have you dwelt in the vale of tears! He will show
you abundant mercy.

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.

Shake off your dust, arise! Put on your glorious garments, my
people, and pray: “Be near to my soul, and redeem it through
the son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite.”

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.

Bestir yourself, bestir yourself, for your light has come; arise
and shine! Awake, awake, utter a song; the Lord’s glory is revealed
upon you.

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.

Be not ashamed nor confounded. Why are you downcast? Why
do you moan? The afflicted of my people will be sheltered within
you; the city shall be rebuilt on its ancient site.

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.

Those who despoiled you shall become a spoil, and all who
would devour you shall be far away. Your God will rejoice over
you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.
You shall extend to the right and to the left, and you shall
revere the Lord. Through the advent of a descendant of Perez we
shall rejoice and exult.

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.

Congregation rises and turns toward the door, as if to welcome a guest.
Come in peace, crown of God, come with joy and cheerfulness;
amidst the faithful of the chosen people come O bride; come, O bride.

Come, my My love, to meet the bride; let us welcome the sabbath.

The Song’s Symbolism

“Lecha Dodi,” as a song that welcomes the sabbath, contains many allusions to biblical stories. Rabbi Alkabets based the lyrics on verses from the Bible and the Talmud- the collection of the laws in Judaism. One main symbol to notice is the personification of the sabbath as a bride. When the hymn repeatedly says to “meet the bride,” the song invites listeners to prepare for the holy day.

The principle focus of the song is on love. As Rabbi Alkabets associated himself with Jewish mysticism, it makes sense to see that there are mystical aspects to the song. In the lyrics, the hymn wants people to open themselves for the sabbath. Going off a mystical ideology, many people also think that the song alludes to the ideal relationship people should have with God and with each other.

Overall, “Lecha Dodi” stresses the importance of Jews’ relationships with the sabbath day, also called Shabbat. In the story of creation, Jews study that each of the seven days has a partner. Day one and day four apply with light, days two and five have to do with water, and days three and six connect to the earth. However, the seventh day does not explicitly have a partner. Therefore, God promised that the Jewish people would partner with the seventh day- which is also the Shabbat. Due to this symbolism, “Lecha Dodi” strengthens the importance of Shabbat and Jews’ relationship with it.

“Lecha Dodi” is an essential religious hymn song used to greet Shabbat. Due to the song’s age, it is evident that the hymn is still significant to Shabbat celebrations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Main Menu