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From the writings & talks of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch
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Chapter 2 Lechah Dodi, 5689
לכה דודי תרפ״טּ
לכה דודי לקראת כלה פני נקבלה
“Come, my Beloved to meet the Bride; let us welcome the Shabbos” Behold the Shabbos is called both bride and queen as in the expression “the Shabbos queen.” [The above metaphors are related to a wedding. In that context] the groom is called a king, as mentioned in Pirkei d’R. Eliezer 1 “a groom is like a king,” and the bride is called a queen.
[The concept also finds its parallel in the spiritual realms] as the Torah 2 declares “Let us make man in our image after our likeness.” Man below [on the earthly plane] reflects the form and image of the Higher Man, i.e., the heavenly Sefiros. [In that realm, the quality of] Ze’er Anpin of Atzilus known by its initials as Z”A [which corresponds to G-d’s “emotional powers”] is called “the King” as explained concerning [the quotation from the Zohar 3]: “The image of each and every soul stood before the holy King” i.e. Z”A of Atzilus. The Sefirah of Malchus Royalty is called the queen.
The Zohar 4 comments “a king without a queen is neither a king, nor is he great.” The essential factor is the union of Z”un Z”A and Nukvah [the Kabbalistic term for Malchus. This is emphasized] by the Torah’s statement 5 “Male and female He created them. And G-d blessed them…” [There, too, the blessing came to them, not to one alone.]
[To return to the concept of Shabbos.] The Shabbos must be received with joy, for it is the source of all blessings, both heavenly and earthly. [The Zohar states 6] “all the days are blessed from the Shabbos.” The same applies to a bride; she must also be greeted [with joy] for she is the source of all the blessings of above.
The above expression לכה דודי לקראת כלה פני שבת נקבלה is used in the Kabbalas Shabbos prayers. Its source is the Talmud’s 7 [description of how the sages would prepare to greet the Shabbos]. R. Chaninah robed himself in nice clothing, 8 stood at sunset on Shabbos eve, and exclaimed, ‘Come and let us go forth to welcome the Shabbos queen.’ R. Yannai donned his robes (Shabbos clothing) on Shabbos eve and exclaimed, ‘Come, O bride, Come, O bride.’ (Because of his great love for the Shabbos, he would refer to it as his bride. 9) The Zohar 10 [also emphasizes the relationship between a bride and Shabbos. It] declares “On Shabbos, one must add on from the mundane to the holy in all matters: in one’s eating, drinking, clothing, and reclining. One must prepare a pleasant sleeping chamber with embroidered covers and pillows from [the best of] all that is found in his house, just as one would prepare a marriage chamber for a bride. For behold, Shabbos is a queen and a bride.” Just as the Shabbos is the source of all blessings, similarly, the rejoicing of the groom and bride and the greeting of them is the source of blessing.
[The above can be explained in terms of a quotation from Isaiah 11 :] “For upon all the glory shall there be a canopy.” [The word all implies at least] two aspects of honor the honor of the groom and the honor of the bride. G-d is [often referred to as] the groom and the Jewish people as His bride: as our sages 12 commented, “on the day of His wedding the day of the giving of the Torah.” Honor refers to an encompassing light [a revelation above our conscious powers]. The honor of the groom refers to G-d’s great love for the Jewish people, as it is written: 13 “I have loved you, said the L-rd.” The honor of the bride refers to the great love of the Jewish people for G-d, as it is written: 14 “My soul longs, indeed it faints [for the courts of the L-rd].” The marriage canopy represents a more general encompassment of the groom and bride.
[These spiritual qualities are mirrored in the marriage ceremony on the physical plane.] Many people come to greet the groom proceeding afterwards, together with the groom, to greet the bride. Then, the groom covers the bride with a veil and they go to the marriage canopy.
[Why is it necessary for the groom to cover the bride’s face?] In order for a Mekabel (receiver) to ascend and approach the level of the Mashpiah 15 (giver) it is first necessary for the Mashpiah to establish a connection, by connecting his external qualities with those of the receiver. Through this bond the receiver can elevate himself and approach the level of the Mashpiah, enabling him to receive the inner qualities of the Mashpiah.
This chapter explains that a groom and a bride can be compared to the heavenly Sefiros Z”A and Malchus. Greeting the bride is compared with receiving the Shabbos, which contains the blessings for all the days of the week. The honor of the groom refers to the love G-d shows to the Jewish people. The honor of the bride refers to the love of the Jewish people for G-d. The marriage canopy represents calling forth the Essence [of G-d]. Before [going to] the marriage canopy the groom covers the bride with a veil thus establishing an external bond between the Mashpiah and the receiver. [However, this external bond is intended to bring about] a deeper bond.
Chapter 2 FOOTNOTES
1. [End of Chapter 16]
2. [Bereishis 1:26]
3. [Note Part III, 104b; Part I, 90b, 227b, 233b]
4. [Part III, 5a]
5. [Ibid. 1:27-28]
6. [Part II, 63b; 88a]
7. Shabbos 119a
10. Part III, 272b
12. [Taanis 26b]
13. [Malachi 1:2]
14. [Tehillim 84:3]
15. [The words Mashpiah and Mekabel (giver and receiver) are used to describe many types of relationships. The root of the word Mashpiah is the word shefa, meaning flow or emanation. A Mashpiah is the source of flow, a bestower of energy, a giver of love, knowledge, blessing etc.]