The chorus and multiple verses of Lecha Dodi address a female second person - "Beloved." Who is it?

In the final verse, the object is presumably the Shabbat Queen, since we end with "Come O Bride! Come O Bride!," but in the chorus, the object is clearly someone else, since we invite her to greet "the bride."

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    Why do you say "female"? – msh210 Nov 13 '11 at 8:16
  • @msh210 the imperative verbs are all in feminine gender. – Isaac Moses Nov 13 '11 at 13:59
  • Oh, you mean in the stanzas. Not in the refrain. Do you have the impression the refrain and the stanzas are addressing the same person (or being)? I haven't. – msh210 Nov 13 '11 at 17:47
  • @msh210, my first assumption would be that they are the same. If you can show a line of interpretation that has them as different, that's fine. Anyway, what gender is "lecha"? – Isaac Moses Nov 13 '11 at 18:20
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    The masculine is lech, but the imperative often gets a he appended (for what purpose I have no idea), as in "hoshia na... hatzlicha na". (So does the future, as in what @rony quotes, nel'cha, and so does the future-turned-to-past-by-means-of-vav. Both in first person commonly, but IIRC examples in the other persons exist also.) – msh210 Nov 16 '11 at 1:52

Shabat 119a: Rabbi Chanina would say towards the end of Friday: "Come let as go out to greet the Queen". Rabbi Yannai would say : "Come, O bride, come O bride". Rashi explains that out of his yearning for the Shebitat shabat (the rest of Shabat?) he would call it a bride. There is a Midrash on Breishit Rabah (11:8): Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai taught that the Shabat came before Hashem and said that each day had a mate (on Creation - I think it means the creation of the upper and lower worlds) except for the Shabat. Hashem promised the Shabat that Yisrael would be their mate. When standing before Har Sinai Hashem told us: Remember what I promised the Shabat that you are her mate, so remember the Shabat day lekadsho (as a chatan does to the kala). So this may mean that the Schina is telling lecha dodi (we are the dodi) towards the kalah - and the Shabat is the kalah. Or we are telling the Shechina to join us while we are going to meet the kalah.Now why a queen? because am Yisrael are royalty so our mate is a queen. A complete explanation can be found in R' Hirsch siddur.

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In Shir Hashirim, the normal allegorical understanding is that the "woman" is the Jewish people, and the groom is "Hashem." This applies to Shabbat as well, and so in Lecha Dodi, the Jewish people are the bridesmaids who welcome in the bride who is the Shabbat Queen.

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From wikipedia:

[Lecha Dodi] is a request of a mysterious "beloved" that could mean either God or one's friend(s) to join together in welcoming Shabbat that is referred to as the "bride"

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    Yeah, I saw that too. I'm hoping for sources that are more authoritative and/or explain with some depth why a particular interpretation makes sense, and what its significance is. – Isaac Moses Nov 13 '11 at 5:26

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