Sing it: Yedid Nefesh

Posted December 26th, 2012 by Or Shalom London with No Comments

Yedid Nefesh is a 16th-century piyyut popularized by the Kabbalists of Safed. “Yedid Nefesh” translates as “Soul Mate.” The song is a love song, expressing a longing to bind one’s soul to God. In it, we are portrayed as lovesick for God. We sing it to begin the Kabbalat Shabbat service. It’s the first song the Sabbath bride hears when we welcome her into shul at the beginning of Shabbat.

Yedid Nefesh is also sung at seudah slishit, the third meal of Shabbat, eaten between minchah and ma’ariv on Shabbat late afternoon/early evening. At that time, it’s a song that says goodbye to the Sabbath bride until we see her again next week. The use of Yedid Nefesh to both begin and end Shabbat, escort the Sabbath bride in and say farewell until next week, is a reminder of how comforting repetition can be for all of us, especially the lovesick.

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