This mystical hymn to the Shabbat was composed by the kabbalist Rabbi Alkabetz (c. 5260-5340) who was the teacher as well as the brother-in-law of the famed kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Cordovero. 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. The author signed his name - Shlomo HaLevi - in the acrostic formed by the first letter of the first eight stanzas of the hymn.
One of the themes of the hymn - preparing oneself to greet the Shabbat - is based on the Talmud’s account of how the Sages would welcome the Holy Day (Shabbat 119a): Rabbi Chanina would wrap himself in his cloak and say, “Come, let us go and greet the Shabbat Queen.” Rabbi Yannai would don his robe and say, “Enter O bride! Enter, O bride! ”
The holy Ari included this hymn in his edition of the siddur, and thus it eventually became an integral part of the Shabbat liturgy of Jewish communities everywhere.
Click below for our new, original, rhyming translation