In many shuls, the custom on Shabbos Chazon is to sing Lecha Dodi to the mournful tune of “Eli Tziyon” from the kinos on Tisha B’Av. In addition, the haftarah is read to the tune of Eicha. (These customs are based on Magen Avraham 282:14, and other sources, see Minhag Yisrael Torah 551:3.)
But many question these customs. How are we allowed to express mourning in public on Shabbos? This is why the Radvaz and others (see ibid.) are in favor of nullifying such customs; Chazal speak strongly against any sort of crying and lamenting on Shabbos. And yet, it is done. Let us offer a defense of these customs.
The Rebbe, Rav Boruch of Mezhbezh once had a special guest for Shabbos. At the Friday night seudah, they began singing the zemer, “Kol Mekadesh Shevi’i.” The special guest was a person who constantly mourned the churban Beis HaMikdash. He would say Tikun Chatzos every night and observe all of the halachos the Shulchan Aruch lays out to remember the churban. Thus, it makes sense that his reaction when saying the words in the zemer, “Ohavei Hashem, hamechakim b’vinyan ariel, b’yom Hashabbos sisu v’simchu k’mekablei matan nachaliel,” – those who love Hashem, who wait for the rebuilding of Ariel (the Beis Hamikdash), rejoice and revel on the Shabbos day, like those who received the gift of Nachliel (the Torah, see Targum Onkelos to Bamidbar 21:19)” was one of great sighs and groans.
Rav Boruch stopped the zemer and explained to his guest that he clearly does not understand the words. He explained that we are not saying that who mourn the Mikdash and wait for the rebuilding, which is a great mitzvah, should also rejoice on Shabbos which is a great mitzvah. Rather, we are to be so energized and uplifted by the sanctity of Shabbos that we feel as though we are in the Beis Hamikdash (Sefer HaShabbos, page 188).
Somehow Shabbos is a consolation to those who are waiting the Temple’s rebuilding. The author of the zemer is telling us that although we yearn for the Beis HaMikdash and know that the ultimate redemption is not yet at hand, there is one thing which can give us strength and comfort: Shabbos. On Shabbos, to some extent, we must try to live as if we have received the ultimate gift from Hashem: Olam HaBah.
The spiritual high level that Klal Yisrael can achieve on Shabbos is reflected by our neshama yeseira. Shabbos is a day that truly exists in the next world, but we are given a taste of it here. On Shabbos, we return to the level we were on before Cheit Haeigel. This is why the Ribbono Shel Olam juxtaposes the pesukim (in Parshas Ki Sisa) about Shabbos to the description of Moshe receiving the first Luchos.
This is the deeper meaning of the pasuk (Vayikra 26:2), “Es Shabsosai tishmoru u’mikdashi tira’u,” keep my Shabbosos, and it will be considered as if you built the Bais HaMikdash! On Shabbos, there is no exile; we are reunited with the Shechinah and the Temple in Yerushalayim.
Even in the darkest moments of galus, Hashem Yisbarach gives us Shabbos to serve as the inspirational and guiding light. He never abandons us entirely. We are still His children.
Why is Yerushalayim a focus in Lecha Dodi? What does it have to do with Shabbos? We are not supposed to mourn on Shabbos, and yet in the middle of Lecha Dodi we sing about the destruction of Yerushalayim. In fact, in some Sefardic siddurim those stanzas are left out (Asifas Gershon Shabbos, page 194). So why do we include them?
The Iyun Tefila answers the question this way: The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that if Klal Yisrael would observe two Shabbasos properly, we would immediately be redeemed. Thus, as we begin Shabbos, we give Yerushalayim and ourselves the hope that perhaps this Shabbos will be the beginning of our geulah. Maybe, somehow, we will muster up the collective strength to truly keep Shabbos according to the details and dictates of halacha, avoiding even unintentional violations. This is why we discuss Yerushalayim in the midst of Lecha Dodi, right at the beginning of Shabbos. By giving ourselves additional inspiration to observe a meaningful and halachic Shabbos, we aren’t saddened, we are rejuvenated by the prospect of this Shabbos becoming the onset of our redemption.
Rav Eliyahu Munk in the Olam HaTefilos (page 12) has a different approach. He reminds us that when we enter into Shabbos, we come into mai’ain Olam HaBah, a rendezvous with a microcosm of the next world. For 24 hours, we live within a world of perfection, free of worry, anguish and pain. We are not supposed to even think about any mundane tasks or projects that need to be accomplished in the coming week. On Shabbos, we taste a little of what Olam HaBah will be like.
Consequently, on Shabbos, when we think of Yerushalayim, the Bais HaMikdash, and galus, we don’t think of sorrow and groans, but of 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 see it as 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.” “Lo sevoshi velo sikalmi,” there is no reason for Yerushalayim to be ashamed because redemption is coming soon.
When we sing Lecha Dodi and the haftarah in mournful tunes on Shabbos Chazon, we do it with these ideas in mind. Yes, we remember the destruction, but we also remember that we are never abandoned, and from the destruction itself will come a joyous renewal.