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Greeting the Shabbat

Greeting the Shabbat


After lighting the candles, as it gets dark, we walk to the synagogue for the special Shabbat eve prayers. These prayers have been legendary throughout the ages for their poetry and haunting and joyful melodies.

The Friday night prayers begin with Lichu Niranina--"Come let us sing." This is followed by more expressions of song and thanksgiving, and praises for G‑d's glory.  The highlight of the Friday night prayers is the Lecha Dodi. This mystical hymn describes how we prepare for and greet the Shabbat; its refrain: "Come, my Beloved, to meet the Bride; let us welcome the Shabbat."

Lech Dodi was written by Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz (c. 5260-5340), teacher and brother-in-law of the renowned kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Cordovera. The author signed his name, Shlomo Halevi, in the acrostic of the first letter of each stanza. Throughout the ages, pious Jews have gone out to the fields, literally, singing Lecha Dodi. The numinous city of Tzfat was known especially for its mystics who would go to the surrounding mountains every Friday as the sun was setting and greet the Shabbat with the Lecha Dodi.

Following the "Prayer for Welcoming the Shabbat" is the traditional evening festival prayer, composed primarily of barchu, shma, the amidah, and aleinu.

Friday night prayers in the synagogue is very beautiful; however, if there is no synagogue within walking distance of your home, or you can not make it to the synagogue, you can recite the prayers at home.

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Anonymous Midland, TX December 27, 2013

Are there any other traditions for greeting the Shabbos besides the candle-lighting? Reply