Shabbos is a day of rest from physical involvement and creativity. Hashem designed Shabbos to be full of kedusha and spiritual potential. But someone was needed to actualize that potential. This is what Shabbos means when it complains to Hashem that it has no ben zug, it has no partner to complete its function.
HaKadosh Baruch Hu answers that Klal Yisrael is the ben zug. Klal Yisrael utilizes Shabbos as a day of spiritual ascension, a day of coming closer to G-d, through more time devoted to intensive tefillah, talmud Torah, and family. The Jewish people find in Shabbos an ability to regain their bearings as they remind themselves of what they should be striving for in this world.
Coming back to Lecha Dodi, Rav Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael in Baltimore, explained that since Shabbos is the day that we can access a great potential for coming close to Hashem, it is on Shabbos that we feel the loss of Yerushalayim most profoundly. Without Yerushalayim, without the Bais HaMikdash, we are prevented from attaining the ultimate closeness with Hashem. As Shabbos enters, and we feel a special intimacy with the Ribbono Shel Olam, we ask Him to take this intimacy even further and allow us to come to Yerushalayim HaBenuyah, so that we will attain the highest level of attachment to Him. This is why most of Lecha Dodi discusses Yerushalayim and the Redemption.
Rav Eliyahu Munk in the Olam Hatefilos (page 12) reminds us that when we enter into Shabbos, we come into the Mayayn Olam Habah, a rendezvous with and microcosm of the next world. For 24 hours, we live within a world of perfection, free of worry, anguish, and pain.
Consequently, on Shabbos, when we think of Yerushalayim, the Bais HaMikdash, and galus, we don’t think of sorrow and groans, but hope and salvation. Bringing up these topics on Shabbos is not a saddening experience; it is one which bursts with hope, optimism and anticipation. Thus, when we look to Lecha Dodi and its mentions of Yerushalayim, we look at the stanzas not with a mournful theme but rather as one of deliverance.
On Shabbos, Yerushalayim is not a destroyed city but a “mikdash melech ir melucha,” a city fit for the King of all kings. We tell Yerushalayim to get up and show its beauty, kumi tze’i mitoch hahafecha. If you track all of these stanzas, you find this same optimistic tendency. Just as Yeshaya tells us in this week’s hafotrah, we say, Lo sevoshi velo sikalmi, there is no reason for Yerushalayim to be ashamed because redemption is coming soon.
Indeed, may it come very soon.
But until then, let us properly experience our microcosm of redemption with each and every Shabbos.