Project Genesis

The Sabbath as a Bride

Question: Why is the Sabbath referred to as a “bride”?

Answer: Great question! (And a very deep one.)

On Friday nights in the synagogue, we sing from the siddur, “Lecha dodi likras kallah…” “Come my Beloved to greet the bride…” Our Beloved is G-d and the kallah/bride is the Sabbath, the bride of the Jewish People. This idea is based on a Midrash that points out that all the days of the week were given “mates” (Sunday has Monday, Tuesday has Wednesday, Thursday has Friday), but the 7th day seemed like the odd one out. Therefore, it complained to God, who responded that the Jewish People would be its “groom”. (Based on Midrash Bereishis Rabbah 11:8; see also Talmud, Tractate Bava Kama 32a-b.)

What does this mean?

Obviously, it reflects the very powerful relationship between the Jewish People and the Sabbath (as the phrase goes, “more than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews”). The Torah says that Eve was created as a ‘helpmate’ for Adam, meaning that spouses are supposed to help their partners reach their greatest potentials. The Sabbath helps the Jews reach their greatest potential.

To understand this further, we would have to understand what Sabbath is (just like you have to understand who your wife is). That’s a big question, but I would recommend the book, “Sabbath – Day of Eternity“, by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan as one of many possible places to start. In a nutshell, though, the Sabbath is the day that God stood back, so to speak, and “appreciated” His creation. So too, it is a time for us to stand back from lesser tasks, and focus on appreciating the great gifts we possess—both the tangible and the intangible.

Take care and keep asking questions,

Shlomo Shulman

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