A Taste of Erev Shabbat
The Song of Songs
In Sephardic tradition, the Song of Songs is recited before the evening Shabbat service.
Attributed to King Solomon, son of King David, Shir HaShirim conjures intense romantic, even sensual, imagery. Unlike the rest of the Tanakh (Bible), there is no explicit wisdom, law, or covenant. How can we explain this?
The desire is taken as God’s love for Israel, and the Jewish people are represented as a bride.
The pastoral or garden setting is placid, appropriate for Shabbat. But even more, knowing how much love God has for us banishes anxiety and welcomes calm.
Hinakh Yafa Rayati
Behold you are my beloved
El Ginat Egoz
To the Nut Grove
From the Song of Songs | Music by Sara Levi T’nai
The Sabbath Queen
Poem by Hayyim N. Bialik | Music by Pinchas Minkowski
Above, hear You Have Enraptured my Heart, by tenor Hazzan Ramón Tasat, in a Hebrew/Ladino vocal harmony work with guitar.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one,
come with me.
Shabbat – A Taste of Paradise
The service of Kabbat Shabbat means the “receiving” or “welcoming” of Shabbat. This twilight, between the workday and the onset of Shabbat, is a deeply mystical time. In Zoharic Kabbalah, the Shechina (Divine presence) was identified with Kingship. The Sephira Tiferet with God’s beneficent Divine emotion. But what can this mean for us?
On the Shabbat, these attributes unite as a loving couple. Through good deeds and honoring the Shabbat, the Jewish people heal the exile of the Shechina and receive a hint of Olam Habah – the next world. In other words, Shabbat is a taste of paradise.
Yedid Nefesh - Beloved of the Soul
From Hazzan Tasat’s Yom she kulo Shabbat recording.
Yedid Nefesh, first published in Venice in 1601. It is often sung between Friday’s afternoon prayer and Kabbalat Shabbat (Receiving the Sabbath). It is also sung during Se’udah Shelishit (the third meal of Shabbat) before nightfall.
Of special interest to Kabbalists, it is believed to be composed in the 1st century CE by the great Kabbalist Rabbi Nehonia Ben Hakannah and can be found in the siddur just before Lecha Dodi. Performed here by the Kolot HaLev choir, it begins “Please, by the great power of thy right hand, O set the captive free.”
Kabbalat Shabbat melodies
Since the contribution of the 16th century Kabbalists, much music has evolved to evoke the mood of this special time.
Mizmor le David – Psalm 29
The first part of Kabbalat Shabbat is composed of six psalms representing the six week days. Psalm 29, Mizmor le David, is the last, describing the advent of God in a storm.
Bolaffi of Italy
After the six psalms comes Lekha Dodi, composed by Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz. It is based on the words of the Talmudic sage Hanina: “Come, let us go out to meet the Queen Sabbath” (Talmud Shabbat 119a).
A Melody from Rome
Mizmor Shir Leyom Hashabbat
After Lekha Dodi, Psalm 92 is recited, indicating acceptance of the Shabbat, and then Psalm 93.