Lecha Dodi, the quintessential prayer welcoming the Shabbos Queen (the “Bride”), written by 16th-century Tzfas kabbalist Rav Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, is at the center of the Kabbalas Shabbos tefillah. In virtually every community, it’s recited in song — either a standard tune specific to that kehillah, or a weekly selection from a collection of familiar niggunim.

Composer Heshi Rottenberg

When I daven in other shuls, I sometimes use Carlebach tunes for Lecha Dodi. But I’m a Belzer chassid, so when I’m davening in our own shtibel I’ll choose either a Belz, Vizhnitz, or Modzhitz tune.

 

Singer/songwriter Aharon Razel

The Breslover Lecha Dodi — the famous “nai nana-nai nai nana-nai lecha dodi likrat kallah, nai nana-nai, nai nana-nai nai-nana-nai penei Shabbat nekabelah.” It’s a niggun of such feeling and love. I learned this Lecha Dodi 20 years ago at the Breslov shul in Tzfat. The sun going down over the mountains, and a few hundred chassidim singing with intensity — that’s pure Shabbat bliss.

 

Singer Shulem Lemmer

The tunes I like best for Lecha Dodi are the niggunim that the shul sings along with. That can vary, depending where I daven. My personal favorites are “Shomrei” from Belz, the Breslov Lecha Dodi, and the Carlebach Lecha Dodi [the same as his niggun for “Kah Ribon”]. They’re all beautiful when everyone sings together.

 

Malchus Choir conductor Rabbi Pinchos Bichler

At really festive Shabbos gatherings, I use Reb Ben Zion Shenker’s famous Modzhitz “Baruch Kail Elyon” tune for Lecha Dodi. It has many parts and is beautiful with choir harmonies. And when it’s Shabbos and Yom Tov together, I’ll adapt a tune related to the Yom Tov.

 

Composer/ arranger Yitzy Bald

I love Ari Goldwag’s “Kah Ribon,” and that’s what I sing for Lecha Dodi when I daven from the amud. Ari has many beautiful songs, but that niggun is something very big. It’s slow and majestic and feels classical, although it’s actually contemporary.

 

Singer Uri Davidi

At the moment, I’m singing Avrum Mordche Schwartz’s “Kiddush” tune. I like to use newish songs that fit Lecha Dodi, and which the people in shul know.

 

Singer Shloime Cohen

If I’m davening in my own shtibel, Seret Vizhnitz, there’s a certain Gerrer march tune which I like to use. If I’m not in the shtibel, I sing Reb Dovid Werdyger’s “Lo—o-oo Saivoshi.” By the way, in Vizhnitz, the Lecha Dodi tune is customarily changed at Vehayu Limshisah, not Lo Saivoshi, as is the minhag elsewhere. I’ve heard that this started when the Vizhnitzer Rebbe moved to Grosswardein after World War I. The shul in Grosswardein was nusach Ashkenaz, and when the Rebbe went to daven from the amud there, they told him that their minhag is to sing Lecha Dodi, which was not done in Vizhnitz until then. So the Rebbe sang. He didn’t change to a more leibedig song for Lo Saivoshi, though, and the crowd only reminded him to do so when he reached Vehayu Limshisah. Nothing happens by chance — and so that became the Vizhnitz minhag.

 

 (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 714)