Sign up ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The prayer Lecha Dodi was composed in the 16th century which is relatively recent as the general Nusach of prayer was founded between 516 BCE – 70 CE by the Anshei K'neset Hagdolah, and its rare that everyone, ~2000 years later, adds a set prayer (not counting Piyutim - poems - on holidays) to the service.

What was so appealing about it? Why did almost every community add Lecha Dodi to Kabalat Shabbos?

share|improve this question
sharshi, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for posting this very interesting question! It would be even more valuable if you'd edit in your source for whatever you already know about Lecha Dodi's history. I hope you'll look around the site and find other material you resonate with, perhaps including our 42 other shabbat-songs questions. – Isaac Moses Mar 5 '14 at 16:20
This book - Sefer Kabalas Shabbos Upizmon Lcha Dodi delves into your question. I am unable to find my copy at the moment. – Gershon Gold Mar 5 '14 at 17:23
hashgacha from upstairs – ray Mar 5 '14 at 18:55
People don't have work on Friday night. – Double AA Mar 5 '14 at 19:10
I'd like to question the assumption that Lecha Dodi is unique in this regard. Prayer, due to its personal and communal nature, has always been fluid. For example, Meshebarach for Tzahal is universal among nonChareidi shuls. In addition, many other developments that took place around the same time, such as the Shulchan Aruch, have been universally accepted, not to mention much later things, such ad not using umbrellas on Shabbat. – Shmuel Apr 13 '14 at 23:42

2 Answers 2

I've heard that it is this way because Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz composed it in his circle who was made up of the greatest Achronim. Rabbi Alkabetz was one of the members of the esteemed Safed circle of scholars and mystics, which included Rabbi Yosef Caro, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero and Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the holy Ari.

They accepted it and that caused all their students and the students of their students to say this prayer.

share|improve this answer
This sounds reasonable; if you have a source, that would be invaluable. – Seth J Apr 6 at 20:11

To quote the Artscroll Siddor:

This beautiful and inspiring song to the Sabbath was composed by the sixteenth century Kabbalist Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz.


Many similar poetic greetings to the Sabbath were extant, but only this one received the endorsement of Arizal, with the result that it has been adapted universally as part of Kabbalas Shabbos.

share|improve this answer
I don't think that this is a great answer. ArtScroll is far from being considered a scholarly giant in the Jewish community, for reasons like this. My main problem is that it assumes that the Ari's hashgacha is the be-all and end-all, when we know from history that this is not the case, and in many parts of Europe and Teiman, talmidei haAri were not viewed with the highest esteem. Furthermore, R' Hamburger writes in his schul madrich that in Frankfurt, K"Sh was only adopted under R' Hirsch and after Shabbatei Tzvi, it was not said in the Western Sephardi kehillot. – Noach mi Frankfurt Mar 8 at 13:59
The Ari also endorsed other Shabbat piyyutim like Askinu Seudasa, yet they are not nearly as widely accepted. This answer seems to be a drastic oversimplification of the historical development. – Double AA Mar 8 at 15:01

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.