Some tunes for Lecha Dodi are conducive to repeating the chorus ("Lecha dodi ...") twice each time. I've noticed that some people, when using one of these tunes, repeat, while others avoid repeating either by truncating the chorus tune or replacing some of it with wordless syllables (e.g. "nai-nai"s).

  • Is there a Halachic problem with repeating this chorus?

  • If one begins Lecha Dodi with one repetition convention (i.e. either repeating or not), is it preferable not to switch before the end of the song even if a tune change suggests it?

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    is there a mesora for any repeating of one or more words anywhere in davening? – user1009 Nov 13 '11 at 5:33
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    @Franco61318, welcome to Judaism.SE! If you post a source for prohibiting repetition, we can analyze how it applies to this case. – Isaac Moses Nov 13 '11 at 5:39
  • I went to a shul once that sings the verses, and then lets everyone say them again to themselves... Lots and lots of repetitions in that minyan.. – avi Nov 13 '11 at 12:23
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    @avi, in many synagogues the leader sings the verses and the congregants repeat them (or say them before the leader), but then the congregants are not expected to sing the words with the leader. In such synagogues, those raised synagogues where everyone sings together will sometimes sing the words with the leader instead of saying them after (or before) him, so you wind up with some congregants singing the words with the leader and others after (or before) him. Perhaps this is what you saw? – msh210 Nov 13 '11 at 17:49
  • No.. Everyone sung together, and everyone including the leader read afterwards. Lets say it took 10 second to sing the verse, there would then be 5 seconds of "silence". And then 10 seconds of singing again. Longest L'cha dodi ever :) You find strange customs in Israel. – avi Nov 14 '11 at 8:05

I agree with Yaakov Ellis's answer, and indeed deliberately repeat where the song calls for it.

All of kabbalos Shabbos is a "recent" kabbalistic innovation. And there was a great outcry when they instituted it, adding on to the tefillah constructed by Chazal. As a result, to assuage those concerns, there are various kulos associated with it. For instance, that they say it from the middle of the shul, by the bima, rather than at the amud. Or that a katan can lead it.

To then turn around and treat it as davening, such that one goes to great pains to avoid the repetition, seems "off".

Also, if one is going to be makpid on this, then one should ideally not have chosen a tune that was built with the assumption of indeed having a repetition.

In terms of the point raised in the comment section, about repeating words rather than a whole passage, I am not aware of any part of Kabbalas Shabbas (or a tune for a part of it) that has one repeating just words, such as Boi v'shalom ateres ba'lah ba'lah", which makes for nonsense. The closest I know of is from elsewhere in davening, like Baruch Shenatan Torah, Torah; or uShemo, uShemo, uShemo, echad.

But let us say it did exist. (Update: It does, and Menachem gives examples in the comment section.) There are two points that could conceivably be made in favor of such a repetition.

  1. One would repeat it only if there was an existing niggun which prompted this repetition. And as much as kabbalat Shabbat is a recent minhag, so too the tune together with the repetition it assumes is a recent minhag.

  2. Does repetition indeed make for nonsense? Consider the following English lyrics from "Sesame Street":

    Can you tell me how to get...How to get to Sesame Street?

Does the listener really think that there are two questions, one how to get, treating "get" as an intransitive verb, and the other as how to get to Sesame Street? Does the listener become confused and think that the song is nonsense? Or does he understand it as part of the structure of the poetry of the song?

Through the ages, Jews have written piyutim conforming to Arabic poetry, or put it to tunes from the general culture. Repetition of words, even where an unthinking person would believe that the result was nonsense, could well be treated as something of this sort. So yes, "Boi v'shalom ateres ba'lah ba'lah" is saying "Come in peace, adornment of her husband; her husband." But normal people hearing it in the context of a song will understand that the repetition is stylistic, and still make sense of the words. Absent a desire to ritualize it such that each word must be said once, yes, I think it may be plausible and acceptable to repeat words.

  • Do you even repeat part of a passage, or just a whole refrain or the like? E.g., saying "Boi v'shalom ateres ba'lah ba'lah" is saying "Come in peace, adornment of her husband her husband" which makes no sense: even if kabalas Shabas is a relatively recent minhag, it is a minhag and saying nonsense instead of sense seems wrong to me (not that I have a source). – msh210 Nov 15 '11 at 23:51
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    an interest followup question. i replied at length by editing my answer. – josh waxman Nov 16 '11 at 19:20
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    You gotta admit though. "bayom hahu, bayom hahu, yihye hashem echad, ushemo, ushemo, ushemo echad" is ridiculous. – jake Nov 16 '11 at 19:38
  • joshwaxman, very nice followup (and original). – msh210 Nov 16 '11 at 19:51
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    @joshwaxman, Interesting; maybe. "bayom hahu, bayom hahu"...second coming? :) – jake Nov 16 '11 at 20:46

This is a piyut (liturgical poem) that was composed a few hundred years ago in Tzfat. The chorus does not contain the name of God, nor is this a davar shbikedusha (a prayer that can only be recited in the presence of a minyan - 10 men). There is no problem with repeating the chorus.

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    do you have a source for this distinction? – Menachem Nov 13 '11 at 14:27
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    Which distinction? About there not being a problem with repeating parts of a song that has relatively recent origins, and does not have the name of God in it? I would ask you for a source why there would be any reason why you wouldn't be allowed to repeat it. – Yaakov Ellis Nov 13 '11 at 18:38
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    Shema is a pasuk from the Torah.. it's a completely different thing. – avi Nov 14 '11 at 10:26
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    @YaakovEllis: which brings us back to my original question, do you have a source for this distinction? – Menachem Nov 15 '11 at 23:47
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    The source is the absence of sources. For example, see Igrot Moshe, OC II:22, about a chazzan repeats words or phrases during the repetition of the amidah. He refers to this as אין רוח חכמים נוחה (the sages are uncomfortable with this practice) but it is made clear there that the issue is because it is in the amidah - a prayer established by chazal with berachot and rules surrounding its repetition and interruptions. See also IGM OC I:22 where he talks about a specific issue in Pesukei D'Zimrah - there again the concern is because it is within the bounds of berachot ordained by chazal... – Yaakov Ellis Nov 16 '11 at 8:11

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