In the first verses of Bereshit, we read that “there was evening and morning, the first day.” The rabbis reasoned that if
the Torah said that the first day began with evening, that must have been God’s intention. So late Friday afternoon, in
Jewish homes around the world, candles are lit, blessings are said and Shabbat is welcomed. And in synagogues, the Friday
Ma’ariv (evening) service begins with Kabbalat Shabbat - Welcoming the Sabbath.
Shabbat is a time of joy, and the six Psalms that make up the bulk of the Kabbalat Shabbat are celebratory, corresponding
to the six days of creation; but it is Lecha Dodi that many feel is the true centerpiece of this portion of the
Shabbat evening service.
On Friday nights in the 16th century, in the small town of Safed in the mountains of Galilee in northern Israel, the Jewish
mystics who lived and studied there would dress in white like bridegrooms and joyously dance and march through the fields
outside town to greet the Sabbath, which is depicted in both Talmud and in mystical texts as a bride and queen. Around 1540,
a poet composed the beautiful ode to the Sabbath Bride, Lecha Dodi, urging Jews to greet the Sabbath and extolling
her virtues. Today, it is recited or sung in virtually every synagogue in the world as the Sabbath is ushered in.
Following the Ma’ariv service Kiddush is recited, and those gathered have a sip of wine, a piece of challah, refreshments and
the chance to share a relaxing moment with others before heading home.
Why not end your work-week at Temple Tifereth Israel at one of its Friday night Kabbalt
Shabbat get-togethers like that shown above? Check with Temple to find out when the next Kabbalat Shabbat will
take place. Like your mother might have said to you, “Try it, you’ll like it!”