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In every community I have been in there is a custom to sing Lecha Dodi, sometimes along with yedid nefesh or shir hashirim, during kabbalat shabbat. Are there any communities which do not sing lecha dodi but something else instead? Before the song was composed was there a tradition of singing a song during kabbalat shabbat or did they simply go from kabbalat shabbat directly into maariv?

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What makes you think anyone said Kabbalat Shabbat before Lecha Dodi was composed? –  Double AA Apr 17 '13 at 19:03
    
@DoubleAA dunno, any reason to assume it was not? –  user2110 Apr 17 '13 at 19:10
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@nikmasi Wikipedia says both were developed by 16th century eastern kabbalists. –  Double AA Apr 17 '13 at 19:13
    
@DoubleAA but they cite no source –  user2110 Apr 17 '13 at 19:25

1 Answer 1

Minhag Beit El and the various Yeshivot HaMekubalim which have grown out from them over the past 300+ years do not sing Lecha Dodi. The Minhag is recorded in the book Divrei Shalom, by Rav Raphael Sharabi(grandson of the Rashash) in the Minhagei Beit El section #37. There he gives two reasons 1)The Ari did not explicitly tell his students to sing it, 2) The Ari specifically forbade the addition of piyutim written after the period of Geonim to the prayer services.

One specific source is Shaar HaKavvanot Drush Nusach Tefilot p 50c:

דע לך כי מורי ז"ל לא היה אומר שום פזמון ושום פיוט ושום בקשה מאלו שסידרו האחרונים כמו ר' שלומו בן גבריאל וכיוצא בו לפי שאלו האחרונים לא ידעו דרכי הקבלה ואינם יודעים מה שהם אומרים וטועם בסדר דיבורם בלי ידיעה כלל ובפרט פזמון יגדל אלהים חי וכו' ווידוי אשמנו באומר ובפועל וכו' ושאר הוידוים של יום הכיפורים של רבינו נסים ורש"ט בן ארדוטיל ור' יצחק בן ישראל שתיקנו בערבית בשחרית במוסף במנחה בנעילה לא היה אומרם כלל. אבל היה אומר התפילות והבקשות והפזמונים שתיקנו הראשונים כמו תפלת ר' עקיבא ותפלת ר' אלאזר בן ערך ותפלת ר'נחוניא בן הקנה לפי שכל אלו הראשונים תוקנו הדברים על פי חכמת האמת והיו יודעים מה שתיקנו ואף אם הם באמצע ברכות יוצר וישתבח היה אומרים לפי שהם היו תנאים והיו יודעים מה שהיו מתקנים וכל דבריהם היו מיוסדים על פי דרך האמת

Thus we find that the song is conspicuously absent from the both the Siddur of his student, Rav Abulafia, as well as the siddur that the Rashash composed for the Hakhamei Tunis that was published in the Aram Tzova version.

Also the sefer Nekudot HaKesef goes a bit into depth on the matter of singing the song and whether it poses a problem either halakhically or kabbalistically.

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Didn't the Ari compose various piyutim? (eg. Bnei Heichala) –  Double AA Apr 18 '13 at 5:14
    
@DoubleAA Ah... I see the confusion. He was opposed to additions to the prayer service, which his piyutim were not. Edited answer to correspond. –  Rabbi Michael Tzadok Apr 18 '13 at 5:21
    
@DoubleAA Added a source from the Kitvei HaAri –  Rabbi Michael Tzadok Apr 18 '13 at 6:11
    
Thanks. Does this mean he didn't say An'im Zemirot? Also, does Kabbalat Shabbat really count as a part of the prayer service where this rule should apply? I thought it was originally said separate from Maariv in the fields late Friday afternoon. –  Double AA Apr 18 '13 at 7:07
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@DoubleAA No he wouldn't have said An'im Zemirot. As far as to what extent this applies to the Kabbalat Shabbat is a bit of a debate, which is covered in brief in the Nekudot HaKesef quote. The Rabbanim and Hakhamim of Beit El felt that it did. Others(including some of Chaim Vital's students) did not. –  Rabbi Michael Tzadok Apr 18 '13 at 11:21

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