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Does One Recite Shalom Alechem, Eshet Hayil and Azamer Bishbahin When Yom Tob Falls on Friday Night?

It is customary on Friday night to recite a number of hymns before Kiddush, specifically Shalom Alechem, Eshet Hayil (a section from Mishleh, chapter 31), and Azamer Bishbahin, a hymn composed by the Arizal (Rabbi Yishak Luria of Safed, 1534-1572) which discusses the Kabbalistic significance of Shabbat eve. Should one recite or sing these hymns when Friday night is also Yom Tob?

Different opinions exist in this regard. While some authorities maintain that when Friday night is Yom Tob one recites everything he recites on a regular Friday night, others, including the Elef Ha’magen, held that if Friday night is Yom Tob one begins with Kiddush and omits all the introductory hymns. This custom – to omit the hymns when Friday night is Yom Tob – is very widespread in our community.

The Ben Ish Hai (Rabbi Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909) followed the custom to recite Shalom Alechem and Eshet Hayil when Yom Tob falls on Friday night, but he held that one should not recite Azamer Bishbahin in such a case. He does not give a reason for this position, but it appears that according to Kabbalistic teaching, the content of Azamer Bishbahin is not relevant when Yom Tob falls on Friday night.

Given the difference of opinion in this regard, each family should follow the custom it received from its forebears, as all customs have valid sources on which to rely.

Summary: Different opinions exist as to whether one should recite Shalom Alechem, Eshet Hayil and Azamer Bishbahin on Friday night that is also Yom Tob; everyone should follow his family’s custom.


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