In the 16th century, the kabbalistic school of thought of Safed helped the introduction of a vocal or instrumental practice in many communities. The musical welcoming of the Shabbat (Kabbalat shabbat) was considered by the kabbalists as a very important mitzvah (a commandment). Shabbat had to be welcomed with joy and exultation, like a queen or a bride coming back home after a long absence. That allegory is particularly obvious in the poem by Salomon Alkabez (1505- ca 1580), in which the first verses mean:
"Come my beloved, to meet the bride
and let us welcome the presence of Shabbat”
This hymn was such a success that it was quickly adopted by all the Jewish communities; we know that there are today more than 2000 different melodies to this poem, and new ones are still created!
This radio show, hosted by Hélène Engel, allows us to hear various versions of the Lecha Dodi, through time and space.
Hélène Engel is a singer, musicologist, author, composer and arranger. She is interested in all aspects of Jewish music, from the collecting of historical sounds to today’s compositions. Based in Montreal, she hosts the radio show " The hidden sides of Jewish Music" on Radio SHALOM Montreal.
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