In some congregations, this song is sang as the first song in the beginning of the שבת (Shabbat) service. It is a love song, comparing one’s relationship to the Holy One as a relationship between lovers. Indeed, ידיד נפש roughly translates to “soul mate.” I find the song to be quite poetic, and is a great way to let me know, “The week is over, no matter how hard it has been!”
The version that is on my computer is NOT the same tune that I am used to in either point when it is usually sang, and that brings up an idea as to how I will write this post.
Interestingly, this song can be thought of as a book-end. It is traditionally the last song sung after סעודה שלישית (the “third meal” of Shabbat). However, although the WORDS are the same, the MELODY of the song is different at the beginning versus the end of שבת. I have attached two links: the first is with the melody at the beginning of שבת (the tune starts at 48 seconds of the video).
The second, found HERE, is the combination of מזמור לדוד וידיד נפש (Psalm of David / Yedid Nefesh) that are done in sequence–the latter begins at 3:08.
Those from Conservative backgrounds may notice that the gender of some of the words are changed–some of the second-person words are masculine, instead of the feminine (e.g. yarutz avdekha instead of yarutz avdakh).
The former Psalm is actually 23 (HASHEM is my shepherd…), which I find interesting as that is interpreted as a song for “ending” (it is also recited at funerals and the memorial services). In some sense, it is used here with the “sadness” of the sabbath leaving. In that case, I interpret the immediate follow of ידיד נפש to bookend the sabbatical day, as well as to leave us longing for the next one. People other than me may have a better idea of whether the two tunes have a significantly different emotional construct.
There are probably other cases of days or time periods that are bookended by the “same thing.” In some sense, spelling tests were like that in grade school: the week’s Lit Block class would begin with a spelling pre-test, and on the Friday, there would be a post-test, consisting of the same words. This is not a perfect analogy, but I analogize it anyway, as going from rough to beautiful (almost always, given that I think that I only mis-spelled three or four words on post-tests throughout my entire el-hi career!) Perhaps the opposite of going from anticipatory to somber!
There are plenty of other possible examples of bookends. Perhaps the readers can chime in!
Today is the one-hundred and thirty-eighth day of M.M.X.I.V. That makes nineteen weeks and five days.
!היום שלושה ושלושים יום, שהם ארבעה שבועות וחמישה ימים לעומר. ל”ג בעומר שמח
Today is the eighteenth day of the third round of M.A.P.L.E. That makes two weeks and four days.