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Shabbat A to Z

Shabbat A to Z


a) Leave work early Friday afternoon so you have time to prepare for Shabbat at home.

b) Clean the home in honor of the Shabbat queen.

c) Cook the Shabbat meals well in advance of Shabbat. Set up the blech that will keep the food warm for the Shabbat meals.

d) Set the Shabbat dinner table with: Candles and candlesticks, two whole loaves of challah placed on a tray and covered with a cloth, a cup or goblet and wine for kiddush; and the fanciest tableware you own.

e) Bathe or shower and dress in formal attire

f) Light Shabbat candles 18 minutes before sunset. Click here for the exact time in your location.

g) From this point until Shabbat's end (step v) refrain from all "work" as defined by the laws of Shabbat.

h) Pray the special Shabbat evening service (preferably in your synagogue) including the L'cha Dodi song — "Come, my beloved, to greet the bride, let us receive the presence of the Shabbat..."

i) Gather around the dinner table and sing Shalom Aleichem (welcome to the Shabbat angels). Then sing "A Woman of Valor" (Proverbs 31) composed by King Solomon as a tribute to the Jewish woman.

j) Pour a cup of kosher wine or grape juice into a special goblet and recite the Kiddush that proclaims the sanctity of the Shabbat.

k) Go to the kitchen sink and do the washing-the-hands ritual done before eating bread: fill a large cup with water and pour water onto each of your hands three times and recite the appropriate blessing.

l) Return to the table, recite the blessing over the challah, slice it up, dip it in salt, eat some and pass around challah slices to everyone.

m) Serve the Shabbat meal. The traditional Friday night menu includes gefilte fish (or some other kind of fish) chicken soup with matzo balls or noodles, a chicken or meat entree with side dishes (traditional choices are kugel and tzimmes), and desert.

n) Between courses, sing the traditional shabbat songs (zemirot) and discuss Parshah (Torah reading) of the week and its relevance. Printing the Parshah PDF before Shabbat will give you much fodder for conversation. At the meal's end, recite the Grace after Meals.

o) If it's not too late, now's the perfect time for some quality time with family and/or friends, to do some Torah learning or read a Jewish book.

p) Go to sleep and enjoy the unique pleasure of Shabbat rest.

q) In the morning, walk to shul (don’t bike/blade/drive) for the morning services and the Torah reading. (If you're lucky, there'll be a kiddush buffet after services!)

r) Return home and sit down to a Shabbat meal. The daytime meal follows the same basic structure as yesterday evening's — kiddush (the daytime version), ritual washing, blessing on two challah loaves, delicious food. Traditional foods for the daytime meal include egg salad with onions and the mythical Shabbat cholent — a slow-cooking stew that sits on a small covered flame from before Shabbat. Don't forget the singing, stimulating discussion and Grace after Meals.

s) Shabbat afternoon naps are delicious; reserve some time also to do some learning and reading, or to attend a Torah class (if there's one within walking distance).

t) Later in the afternoon, recite the minchah afternoon prayers; in the summer, this is followed with the study of a chapter from Ethics of the Fathers.

u) Eat the Third Meal, a light repast served between minchah and maariv.

v) Approximately an hour after sundown, after it gets dark, Shabbat is over. Click here for the exact time in your location. Recite the evening prayers.

w) Now it's time for Havdalah, the separation ritual performed with an overflowing cup of wine, spice box and braided candle.

x) There's one more meal: Melaveh Malkah ("Farewell to the Queen"), a light meal accompanied with songs about Elijah the Prophet and stories about the righteous.

y) Re-enter the work-week revitalized with the spiritual energy and vision gained from Shabbat.

z) Repeat next week.

(Easy, no?)

Written by Mendy Hecht of Brooklyn, New York
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1000 characters remaining Staff June 19, 2014

To William The Jewish Sabbath was always on Saturday. Other religions changed their Sabbaths to differentiate from the Jewish Sabbath. Reply

WILLIAM Philippines June 18, 2014

The modern day Sabbath So, the modern day Sabbath is Saturday? I know of a site which says otherwise, and their proof is convincing enough. Reply

LITTLE bob bolivar mo. February 15, 2014

SHABBAT was SHABBAT made for man or was man made for the SHABBAT Reply

Clarice White Roswell, New Mexico December 28, 2013

Shabbat candles I am still trying to find out if there are candles especially for Shabbat that burn for the entire Shabbat? If so, where can I purchase them?
Yes, and I would agree that it you had more info about the particular blessings, songs, and prayers that are used, that would be very helpful.
Thank you, I am learning so much. I am new at this, and am trying very hard to understand and get this information correct, in order to observe myself. Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via August 9, 2012

Att Allen If the candle is still burning after Shabbat has ended, yes, you may light another flame from that fire. If it is still Shabbat, you may not touch nor move the flame in any way. Reply

Allen San Jose, CA August 3, 2012

Leaving a candle burning I was wondering if I leave a candle burning through Shabbat can I take the flame from that candle light with a candle and light something like a oil lamp or other candle. Reply

Rabbi Menachem Posner November 14, 2011

RE Candle lighting and blessings The candles may be lit from as early as the time known as plag haminchah, which is something more than an hour before sunset. However, they must burn until Shabbat and their light should be enjoyed then.

Now I must also point out that the candles are not there for the house. Rather they are for the people. Thus, if the inhabitants of the house will be elsewhere for Shabbat, they should kindle the lights in that other place before the onset of Shabbat. Reply

Leonie Wilcock Melbourne, Australia November 14, 2011

Candle lighting and blessings Hi, in the event that no one will be home at the appointed candle lighting time, can the candles be lit and the prayer blessing said to bless the home and those living there, earlier in the afternoon? Thanks Reply

Avital Miami, FL January 9, 2011

shabbat candles... I really enjoyed this list but must say I disagree with putting the Shabbat candles on the table. We are not able to move the candles, and all the activity surrounding the Shabbat table could cause one of the candles to burn out prematurely. We always put our candles on a nearby shelf or table, where we can see them all during our meal. Reply

Melody June 22, 2010

Challah Bread I live alone and have found out I am wheat sensitive. I get ill when I eat wheat products, but a little I can do infrequently. Reply

Naftali Silberberg, Editorial Team July 18, 2008

Re: Adding Links Thank you for your wonderful suggestion!

We have now interspersed helpful links throughout the article. Reply

Anonymous June 29, 2008

I suggest you include links to the blessings etc Hi there, this is superb, but you don't actually provide much of the stuff that is required, such as the blessings etc

all you would need to make this A TRULY comprehensive guide for shabbat observance would be a link (or a popup) to the blessings for shabbat candles, kiddush, etc

Thanks to you and for this superb quality material Reply

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