Sanctuary of the King, city royal,

Arise go out from amidst the turmoil.

In the vale of tears too long you have dwelt,

He will show you [the] compassion [He always felt].


Sanctuary of the King, city royal. This refers to Jerusalem, as in the verse in Amos 7:12. Although Jerusalem is also the royal capital, where the palace of King David and King Solomon were located, the sanctuary of the King referred to here is the Beit Hamikdash in which the Shechina resides, as in the verse, "You shall make me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within it" (Ex. 25:8).

...Go out from amidst the turmoil. This refers to the ascent of malchut from its involvement in the world during the workdays of the week. Since it is involved with mundane activities, it also comes into contact with the "Other Side," the opposite of holiness.

She remains in unity with the holy light, and crowns herself with many crowns…

As the Shabbat arrives, she merges into Oneness, and is separated from the side of unholiness, and all strict judgments are severed from her. She remains in unity with the holy light, and crowns herself with many crowns for the holy King. Then all powers of negativity and all adversaries flee from her and vanish, and no other power reigns in any of the worlds. (Zohar vol. II, 135 a-b).

As in the verse regarding Lot, "When G‑d destroyed the cities [of Sodom and Gomorrah]… He sent Lot from amidst the turmoil" (Gen.19:29). Since Mashiach is descended from Lot through Ruth the Moabite, this also alludes to the Messianic redemption of the future.

The vale of tears. This is an allusion to the long and bitter exile that the Jewish people have suffered through since the destruction of the second Temple (see Psalms 84:7). The exile of the Jewish people is also the exile of the Shechina.

He will show you the compassion He felt. G‑d's compassion for His people is ever-present, albeit concealed at times, as the verse states, "In all of their anguish, He suffers" (Isaiah 63:9). In the future, this compassion will be fully revealed.

To read the entire original rhyming translation of Lecha Dodi (without commentary) click here.

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