Lekha Dodi

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Lekha Dodi (Hebrew: לכה דודי)[a] is a Hebrew-language Jewish liturgical song recited Friday at dusk, usually at sundown, in synagogue to welcome the Sabbath prior to the evening services. It is part of Kabbalat Shabbat.

The refrain of Lekha Dodi means "Let us go, my beloved, to greet the bride/the Sabbath presence, let us welcome" and is a request of Israel's "beloved" (God) to join together in welcoming a "bride" (the sabbath). The phrase "Let us go, my beloved" is taken from Song of Songs 7:12 (7:11 in English bibles), which Abba b. Joseph b. Ḥama interpreted as Israel talking to God.[1] During the singing of the last verse, the entire congregation rises and turns to the west (traditional congregations face Jerusalem for the rest of services)[2] or to the door;[3] some have the custom to exit the sanctuary of the synagogue.[4] The congregation bows at "Come, O bride!" and turns back toward the front of the synagogue; some bow only forwards and others to the sides and then forwards.[5]

It was composed in the 16th century by Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, who was born in Thessaloniki and later became a Safed Kabbalist. As was common at the time, the song is also an acrostic, with the first letter of the first eight stanzas spelling the author's name. The author draws from the rabbinic interpretation of Song of Songs in which the maiden is seen as a metaphor for the Jews and the lover (dod) is a metaphor for God, and from Nevi'im, which uses the same metaphor.[6] The poem shows Israel asking God to bring upon that great Shabbat of Messianic deliverance.[7] It is one of the latest of the Hebrew poems regularly accepted into the traditional liturgy.


Among some Sephardic congregations, the hymn is sometimes chanted to an ancient Moorish melody, which is known to be much older than the text of Lekha Dodi. This is clear not only from internal evidence, but also from the rubric in old siddurim directing the hymn "to be sung to the melody of Shuvi Nafshi li-Menukhayekhi, a composition of Judah Halevi, who died nearly five centuries before Alkabetz. In this rendering, carried to Israel by Spanish refugees before the days of Alkabetz, the hymn is chanted congregationally, the refrain being employed as an introduction only.

In some very old-style Ashkenazic synagogues the verses are ordinarily chanted at elaborate length by the hazzan, and the refrain is used as a congregational response, but in most Ashkenazic Orthodox synagogues it is sung by everyone together to any of a large number of tunes. This includes the Orthodox Synagogues who employ this element and Synagogues under the Modern-Orthodox umbrella.

Old German and Polish melodies[edit]

At certain periods of the year many northern congregations discard later compositions in favor of two simple older melodies singularly reminiscent of the folk-song of northern Europe in the century succeeding that in which the verses were written. The better known of these is an air, reserved for the Omer weeks between Passover and Shavuot, which has been variously described, because of certain of its phrases, as an adaptation of the famous political song "Lillibullero" and of the cavatina in the beginning of Mozart's "Nozze di Figaro." But resemblances to German folk-song of the end of the seventeenth century may be found generally throughout the melody.

Less widely utilized in the present day is the special air traditional for the "Three Weeks" preceding Tisha b'Av, although this is characterized by much tender charm absent from the melody of Eli Tziyyon, which more often takes its place. But it was once very generally sung in the northern congregations of Europe; and a variant was chosen by Benedetto Marcello for his rendition of Psalm xix. in his "Estro Poetico-Armonico" or "Parafrasi Sopra li Salmi" (Venice, 1724), where it is quoted as an air of the German Jews. Cantor Eduard Birnbaum ("Der Jüdische Kantor", 1883, p. 349) has discovered the source of this melody in a Polish folk-song, "Wezm ja Kontusz, Wezm", given in Oskar Kolberg's "Piesni Ludu Polskiego" (Warsaw, 1857). An old melody, of similarly obvious folk-song origin, was favored in the London Jewry a century ago, and was sung in two slightly divergent forms in the old city synagogues. Both of these forms are given by Isaac Nathan in his setting of Byron's "Hebrew Melodies" (London, 1815), where they constitute the air selected for "She Walks in Beauty", the first verses in the series. The melody has since fallen out of use in English congregations and elsewhere.


The full version of the song (note that many Reform congregations omit verses 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 which make reference to messianic redemption),[8] while Sephardic congregations based in the Jerusalem and Aleppo rites omit verse 4 and verses 6 through 8, as they make reference to agony:[9]

# English translation Transliteration Hebrew
1 Let’s go, my beloved, to meet the bride, Lekha dodi liqrat kallah לכה דודי לקראת כלה
2 Let us welcome the presence of Shabbat. p'ne Shabbat neqabelah פני שבת נקבלה
Verse 1:
3 "Safeguard" and "Remember" in a single utterance, Shamor v'zakhor b'dibur eḥad שמור וזכור בדבור אחד
4 We were made to hear by the unified God, hishmiʿanu El hameyuḥad השמיענו אל המיחד
5 God is one and God’s Name is one, Adonai eḥad ushemo eḥad יי אחד ושמו אחד
6 In fame and splendor and praiseful song. L'Shem ul'tiferet v'lit'hilah לשם ולתפארת ולתהלה
Verse 2:
7 To greet Shabbat let’s go, let's be gone, Liqrat Shabbat lekhu v'neLekha לקראת שבת לכו ונלכה
8 For she is the wellspring of blessing, ki hi m'qor haberakhah כי היא מקור הברכה
9 From the start, from ancient times she was chosen, merosh miqedem nesukhah מראש מקדם נסוכה
10 Last made, but first planned. sof maʿaseh b'maḥashavah teḥilah סוף מעשה במחשבה תחלה
Verse 3:
11 Sanctuary of the king, royal city, Miqdash melekhʿir melukhah מקדש מלך עיר מלוכה
12 Arise! Leave from the midst of the turmoil; Qumi tz'i mitokh ha-hafekhah קומי צאי מתוך ההפכה
13 Long enough have you sat in the valley of tears Rav lakh shevet b'emeq habakha רב לך שבת בעמק הבכא
14 And He will take great pity upon you compassionately. v'hu yaḥamol ʿalayikh ḥemlah והוא יחמול עליך חמלה
Verse 4:
15 Shake yourself free, rise from the dust, Hitnaʿari me'afar qumi התנערי מעפר קומי
16 Dress in your garments of splendor, my people, Livshi bigde tifartekh ʿami לבשי בגדי תפארתך עמי
17 By the hand of Jesse’s son of Bethlehem, ʿAl yad ben Yishai bet ha-laḥmi על יד בן ישי בית הלחמי
18 Draw near to my soul; redeem it. Qorvah el nafshi g'alah קרבה אל נפשי גאלה
Verse 5:
19 Rouse yourselves! Rouse yourselves! Hitʿoreri hitʿoreri התעוררי התעוררי
20 Your light is coming, rise up and shine. Ki va orekh qumi ori כי בא אורך קומי אורי
21 Awaken! Awaken! Utter a song, ʿUri ʿuri shir daberi עורי עורי שיר דברי
22 The glory of the Lord is revealed upon you. K'vod Adonai ʿalayikh niglah כבוד יי עליך נגלה
Verse 6:
23 Do not be embarrassed! Do not be ashamed! Lo tevoshi v'lo tikalmi לא תבושי ולא תכלמי
24 Why be downcast? Why groan? Mah tishtoḥaḥi umah tehemi מה תשתוחחי ומה תהמי
25 All my afflicted people will find refuge within you bakh yeḥesu ʿaniye ʿami בך יחסו עניי עמי
26 And the city shall be rebuilt on her hill. v'nivnetah ʿir ʿal tilah ונבנתה עיר על תלה
Verse 7:
27 Your despoilers will become your spoil, V'hayu limshisah shosayikh והיו למשסה שאסיך
28 Far away shall be any who would devour you, V'raḥaqu kol mevalʿayikh ורחקו כל מבלעיך
29 Your God will rejoice concerning you, Yasisʿalayikh Elohayikh ישיש עליך אלהיך
30 As a groom rejoices over a bride. Kimsos ḥatan ʿal kalah כמשוש חתן על כלה
Verse 8:
31 To your right and your left you will burst forth, Yamin usmol tifrotzi ימין ושמאל תפרוצי
32 And the Lord will you revere V'et Adonai taʿaritzi ואת יי תעריצי
33 By the hand of a child of Peretz, ʿAl yad ish ben Partzi על יד איש בן פרצי
34 We will rejoice and sing happily. V'nismeḥah v'nagilah ונשמחה ונגילה
Verse 9:
35 Come in peace, crown of her husband, Boi v'shalom ateret baʿalah בואי בשלום עטרת בעלה
36 Both in happiness and in jubilation Gam b'simḥah uvetzoholah גם בשמחה ובצהלה
37 Amidst the faithful of the treasured nation Tokh emune ʿam segulah תוך אמוני עם סגלה
38 Come O Bride! Come O Bride! Boi khalah boi khalah בואי כלה בואי כלה

In the Sephardic rite and Chasidic tradition the last section is recited as such:

# English translation Transliteration Hebrew
Verse 9:
35 Come in peace, crown of her husband, Boi v'shalom ateret baʿalahh בואי בשלום עטרת בעלה
36 Both in song and in jubilation Gam b'rinah uvtzaholah גם ברינה ובצהלה
37 Amidst the faithful of the treasured nation Tokh emune ʿam segulah תוך אמוני עם סגלה
38 Come O Bride! Shabbat Queen! Boi khallah Shabbat malketa בואי כלה שבת מלכתא


Verse 1, line 3: 'Safeguard' and 'Remember' in one utterance: The Ten Commandments appears twice in the Torah, in Exodus 20:8 it reads "Remember (zakhor) the Sabbath Day" and in Deuteronomy 5:12 it reads "Safeguard (shamor) the Sabbath Day"; the folkloric explanation for the difference is that, supernaturally, both words were spoken by God simultaneously. Here the second expression is used first in the verse to accommodate the acrostic of the composer's name.

Verse 2, line 10: Last made, but first planned: The Sabbath Day, the seventh and last day of Creation, was, essentially, the last thing created in that week and yet it is believed that a day of cessation, reflection, and worship was part of God's plan from the very first.

Verse 8, line 33: By the hand of a child of Peretz: Meaning a descendant of Peretz, a son of Judah, an ancestor of King David; a poetical description of the Messiah.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ b. Eruvin 21b
  2. ^ "Arukh HaShulchan, Orach Chaim 242:40". www.sefaria.org. Retrieved 2022-01-31.
  3. ^ "Mishnah Berurah 262:10". www.sefaria.org. Retrieved 2022-01-31.
  4. ^ "Arukh HaShulchan, Orach Chaim 262:5". www.sefaria.org. Retrieved 2022-01-31.
  5. ^ "Lecha Dodi- turning and bowing in Bo'ee BiShalom | Rabbi Ari Shvat | Ask the rabbi | yeshiva.co". Yeshiva Site. Retrieved 2022-01-31.
  6. ^ Hoffman, Lawrence A. Kabbalat Shabbat: (Welcoming Shabbat in the Synagogue). My People's Prayer Book.
  7. ^ Hammer, Reuven. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom For Shabbat and Festivals. 21.
  8. ^ Jakob J. Petuchowski, Prayerbook Reform in Europe: The Liturgy of European Liberal and Reform Judaism (1968, NYC, World Union for Progressive Judaism) p. 121, quoting the 'Synagogenordnung' issued circa 1853 for the Progressive congregation in Mayence, Germany under Rabbi Joseph Aub; R' Eric L. Friedland, The Historical and Theological Development of the Non-Orthodox Prayerbooks in the United States (1967, Ph.D. dissertation, Brandeis Univ., NYC) p. 108, that Marcus Jastrow, in his 1871 revision of the German edition Avodat Yisroel (the Reform prayerbook) to reduce Lekhah Dodi to three stanzas, a "which version was later adopted in the 1940 edition of the Union Prayer Book [the American Reform prayerbook]....."
  9. ^ R' Eliezer Toledano, The Orot Sephardic Shabat Siddur (1995, Lakewood, NJ, Orot Inc) p. 68.
  1. ^ Also transliterated Lekhah Dodi, Lecha Dodi, L'chah Dodi, Lekah Dodi, Lechah Dodi.


  • English translation and discussion: in Kabbalat Shabbat: Welcoming Shabbat in the Synagogue, Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, ed. Jewish Lights Publishing. 2004. ISBN 1-58023-121-7.

Hebrew book with English introduction: Reuven Kimelman, The Mystical Meaning of ‘Lekha Dodi’ and ‘Kabbalat Shabbat’, The Hebrew University Magnes Press, and Cherub Press, 2003

  • Traditional settings: A. Baer, Ba'al Tefillah, Nos. 326-329, 340-343, Gothenburg, 1877, Frankfort, 1883;
  • Francis Cohen and David M. Davis, Voice of Prayer and Praise, Nos. 18, 19a, and 19b, London, 1899;
  • F. Consolo, Libro dei Canti d'Israele, part. i, Florence, 1892;
  • De Sola and Aguilar, Ancient Melodies, p. 16 and No. 7, London, 1857;
  • Israel, London, i. 82; iii. 22, 204;
  • Journal of the Folk-Song Society, i., No. 2, pp. 33, 37, London, 1900. Translations, etc.: Israel, iii. 22;
  • H. Heine, Werke, iii. 234, Hamburg, 1884;
  • J. G. von Herder, Werke, Stuttgart, 1854;
  • A. Lucas, The Jewish Year, p. 167, London, 1898

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