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Remember the Sabbath day

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work;

But the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates;

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
(Exodus 20:8-11)

It has been said that "More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews." This Sabbath, or Shabbat in Hebrew, is a unique gift to the nation of Israel by God. It is so important that it is remembered as the fourth of the Ten Commandments : "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy."

Shabbat is the highlight of the week, often called the Sabbath Queen. Special foods are prepared, the best china and linen are used and the whole family gathers together for a special time of rest and sharing. So often in the modern world people think that keeping the Sabbath is a list of "Don'ts". Don't write. Don't work. Don't iron. Don't travel. Don't use the telephone or electricity. However, if you are truly experiencing the Sabbath, you will discover a great revelation...  that it is actually a day of "Do's".

Do spend time with the family. Do relax and read. Do study the portion of the week of the Torah. Do enjoy the slower pace and relaxation. Do enjoy the special foods and atmosphere. Do join the community in celebration of the Sabbath in your place of worship. From the entry of the Sabbath at sundown of Friday afternoon to the ending of the Sabbath one hour after sundown (or when three stars can be seen in the sky), the atmosphere is permeated with joy, good will, rest, and, most importantly, spiritual renewal.

A Day of Love

The Sabbath is the great day of love – the shared hours wherein fathers, mothers, and children learn to walk together,
Holding hands, uplifting minds, teaching their tongues the
Gladness their hearts must know.

Stuart E. Rosenberg

We have been give certain special ceremonies that use sacred objects to honor the Sabbath. These are prescribed by God and we keep the traditions and the objects holy for the honor and blessings of Him.

The center of Shabbat, with exception to the reading of the weekly Torah portion, is the Shabbat meal. There is much tradition around this meal and it is where the blessings are said to welcome the Sabbath. The table is laid with a Shabbat Tablecloth and the best dished are set out. The family comes to the table in white to symbolize the purity of the day.

Sabbath Candles

Traditionally, the mother of the home lights the Sabbath candles. They are placed in two candlesticks, the design is chosen by the household. They should be something those who dwell in the house find appealing. The candles themselves are long burning and last between five and six hours, giving a radiant glow to the home all evening. The mother then lights the right hand candle with a match and uses that candle to light the second one. She covers her eyes as she recites the following blessing:

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Sabbath candles.

Children are a blessing and promise the continuation of the faith. Therefore, if the household has been blessed with children, the next component on Erev Shabbat is Blessing the Children.

Families gather around the Sabbath table and the father and mother bless their children by placing a hand on the head of each child and reciting.,,

For daughters: May God make you as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah
For sons: May God make you as Efraim and Menashe
Followed by: May the Lord bless you and guard over you. May the Lord shine His countenance upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord favor you and grant you peace.

Kiddush – Blessing over the wine

Wine is blessed and consumed on Erev Shabbat to show God that we are honoring His special day with a special drink. If one is opposed to alcoholic beverages, then Kosher grape juice can be adequately substituted. The blessing over the wine is recited by the eldest male family member in attendance. In his absence, the mother or any other adult can recite the blessing. The kosher red wine is poured in the a Kuddush Cup to the brim. After the blessing, the father takes a sip and everyone around the table also takes a sip.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

What has been included here is the short blessing and perfectly acceptable. If you are interested in the full Sabbath benediction, it reads as follows:

It was evening and it was morning.

On the sixth day the heavens and the earth and all their hosts were completed. For by the seventh day God had completed his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. Then God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it he rested from all his work which God had created to function thenceforth. Genesis 2:2-3

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has been pleased with us; in love and favor has given us His holy Sabbath as a heritage, a memorial of the creation – that day being also the first among the holy festivals, in remembrance of the exodus from Egypt. You have chosen us and hallowed us above all nations, and in love and favor hast given us thy holy Sabbath as a heritage. Blessed are you, O Lord, who sanctifies the Sabbath.

HaMotzi -- the Blessing of the Bread 

Bread is blessed at Shabbat as a way of honor God the Provider. It is in memorial for the Manna that fell from the earth each day during the Israelites' 40 years of exile in the desert. Traditionally, the blessing is over Challah, a special braided egg-rich bread. Some bless one loaf of Challah and others bless two loaves of Challah to represent the extra helping of manna God gave the Israelites just before Shabbat so they could keep the Sabbath. The Challah is covered with a cloth and this blessings is recited:

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

"It shall be a sign for all time between Me and the people of Israel; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested." Exodus 31:17

Since this very special day was between God and Israel, it is the most important day to the Judaic faith. Desecration of the Sabbath is considered a major transgression of God's word. Believers today are also discovering the joys of the seventh day as a day of rest. If you would like to incorporate the sanctity of the Sabbath traditions as Jesus observed his entire life, you are most welcomed. The meals, the rest and the family time can only enhance your own traditions!!

A great place to start is our Shabbat Celebration page. You can also see our Shabbat Candlesticks, Shabbat Candles, and Kiddush Cups.

The greeting to everyone on the Sabbath is: Shabbat Shalom! A peaceful Sabbath.

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