Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, 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.
It has been said that "More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews."
This 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."
The Sabbath is the highlight of the week, often called the Sabbath Queen. Special foods are prepared. Best china and linen are used. The 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.
When truly experiencing the Sabbath, you will find it a great revelation that it is a day of refreshing "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 join the community in celebration of the Sabbath in the synagogue. Do enjoy the special foods and atmosphere.
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
Traditionally, the mother of the home lights the Sabbath candles. They are usually two silver candlesticks although they could be crystal, ceramic, or any other material.
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.
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.
May God make you as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah
May God make you as Efraim and Menashe
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
The blessing over the wine is recited by the head of the household. In his absence, the mother or any other adult can recite the blessing.
The wine goblet is filled with sweet, red wine..usually Concord grape in the Us. 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.
The blessing over the Challah, a special braided egg-rich bread is then 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 Jewish people. Desecration of the Sabbath is considered a major transgression of God's word. Christians 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 welcome.
The meals, the rest and the family time can only enhance your own traditions!!
The greeting to everyone on the Sabbath is:
Shabbat Shalom! A peaceful Sabbath.
The Sabbath Meal
Traditionally, the Sabbath meal is a very festive occation. A typical menu for and Ashkenazi (European background) family would include:
Wine, Challah (the special egg-rich braided bread)
Chopped liver, chopped herring
Soup (chicken soup with noodles is the most popular)
Roast stuffed chicken with many vegetable side dishes
Dessert – a variety of cakes, cookies, fruit compote, etc.
Challah – makes three loaves
Mix together: 3 eggs, 1/2 c. (125ml) sugar, 6 Tbs. vegetable oil, 1 Tbs. Salt, 1 1/2 c. (325ml) warm water, 2 pkgs. Fleischmann's yeast (regular or fast-rise). Add 6-8 c. (1 Kilo) flour (more if necessary to make soft, pliable dough). Can be made with mixmaster, switching to dough hook after first amounts of flour. Place dough in greased bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place away from drafts until double. (one to two hours) Punch down dough and let rise again – about one hour until double.
Place dough on work surface. Cut into three sections.
Divide each of the three sections also into three long rolls. Braid. Place in greased loaf pan 9x5 (23cm x 13cm). Repeat with other two sections. Cover and let rise about 30-40 minutes.
Just before baking, brush tops of loaves with beaten egg.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 23 minutes until golden brown. Immediately turn out onto cooling rack.
Station guards around loaves so they won't disappear before dinner!!!
Just as the Sabbath Queen is ushered in with grace and ceremony so, too, do we bid goodbye to the Sabbath in a short service called Havdalah. Havdalah, in Hebrew, means to separate or divide. This service separates the Sabbath from the rest of the ordinary weekdays.
As we return to our daily routines, we hesitate to let go of the tranquility of the Sabbath. Therefore, many times, this service is a special time for families to be together to hold the service in the home with full participation of all in the household.
After nightfall, traditionally when three stars can be seen in the sky, the service commences using a wine goblet (Kiddush cup). Braided candle, and spice box filled with fragrant spices.
The family will gather together for Havdalah to separate the sacred spirit of the Sabbath from the secular week ahead. The spice box, candle, Kiddush cup are divided among the family to hold.
The cup of wine is filled, the Havdalah candle is lit. The head of the family raises the cup of wine (or grape juice) and recites:
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe who creates the fruit of the vine (by whose will all things exist).
The Spice Box with its rich, sweet fragrance is considered by sages to be uplifting for the soul, rather than the body to replace the filling of a spiritual "downer" as the Sabbath leaves.
The box is generally a very decorative object of silver, brass, wood, or even ceramic, artistically designed. It is called a "b'samim box". B'samim in Hebrew means spices.
The box is raised the following blessing offered.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe who creates diverse spices.
At he conclusion of this blessing , the spice box is passed around for all to smell.
Now it's time to use the Havdalah candle. Unlike the beautiful white Sabbath candles in traditional form, the Havdalah candle is not a regular candle. It is made of two or more braided wicks to form a large flame. It can be many sizes and colors. Usually, the youngest in the family likes to hold the candle during the service. All attention is focused on the candle and the following blessing is recited:
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe who creates the lights of the fire.
The cup of wine is raised once again and the main blessing is recited:
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe who makes a division between the sacred and secular, between light and darkness, between Israel and the other nations, between the seventh day and the six working days. Blessed art Thou, Lord, who makes a distinction between the sacred and the secular.
Customarily, the family then sings a song urging the prophet Elijah the Tishbite to come quickly in our day with the Messiah, son of David.