"Yom Hashishi. And the heavens and the earth and all their hosts were completed... And G‑d blessed the Seventh Day and made it holy, for on it He rested from all His work..." (Genesis 1:31 2:1-31)

The commencement of the Shabbat meal—the kiddush (sanctification)--sets the tone for the meal and day and defines what makes it special. The words in the kiddush testify that G‑d, Creator of the world, rested on the seventh day and sanctified it, telling us that this is not an ordinary day and not simply a meal, rather it is a celebration and affirmation of this day that G‑d has consecrated.

The Talmud tells us: "On Friday Night, a person is escorted home from synagogue by two angels, one good and one evil1. When he comes home and finds the candles burning, the table set, and the beds made, the good angel declares 'may it be G‑d's will that the next Shabbat be the same,' and the evil angel reluctantly answers 'Amen.' If [the home is] not [prepared for Shabbat], the evil angel proclaims 'may it be G‑d’s will that the next Shabbat be the same,' and the good angel must answer 'Amen" (Talmud, Shabbat 119b).

Immediately upon returning from the synagogue, gather family, friends and guests around the table. Sing the "Sholom Aleichem," greeting and then bidding farewell to these angels who have accompanied you all Friday night and are now taking leave.

Sholom aleichem malachay ha-shorais, malachay el-yon, mi-melech malachay ham'lochim, hakodosh baruch hu. (repeat 3 times)

Bo-achem l'sholom, malachay hashalom, malachay el-yon, mi-melech malachay ham'lochim, hakodosh baruch hu. (repeat 3 times)

Burchuni l'sholom, malachay hashalom, malachay el-yon, mi-melech malachay ham'lochim, hakodosh baruch hu. (repeat 3 times)

Tzays'chem l'sholom, malachay hashalom, malachay el-yon, mi-melech malachay ham'lochim, hakodosh baruch hu. (repeat 3 times)

Peace unto you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High, the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. (chant three times)

May your coming be in peace, angels of peace, messengers of the Most High, the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. (chant three times)

Bless me with peace, angels of peace, messengers of the Most High, the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. (chant three times)

May your departure be in peace, angels of peace, messengers of the Most High, the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. (chant three times)

For the Hebrew please see Shalom Aleichem Text.

"Aishet Chayil," a poem by King Solomon, is now recited, in praise of both the Shabbat queen and the Jewish woman. According to the Midrash, this ode was originally composed by our Patriarch Abraham, written as a eulogy when his wife Sarah passed away. At the conclusion of the week, every man takes a moment to reflect and be thankful for all his wife has done for him and the entire household throughout the past week. In addition, we learn from the mystical tradition that this poem is also a reference to the "Shabbat Queen," the spiritual soul-mate of the Jewish nation.(Click here for the full Aishet Chayil text)

In some communities it is customary for parents to bless their children before the Friday night meal. The parent places both hands atop the child's head and recites the following:

The Lord spoke to Moses saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them: ‘May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.’ They shall bestow My Name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
[For a son:] May G‑d make you like Ephraim and Menasheh.
[For a daughter:] May G‑d make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.

Now that you've sent off the angels in peace, praised your wife and blessed your children, you are finally ready for kiddush.

Fill the kiddush cup—an ornate silver import, or a plain glass, anything works, as long as it's a permanent vessel, no plastic please—so that it brims over with wine.

Stand up, hold the cup in your right hand, and recite the blessing (in your best alto, in one of the following versions: Hebrew, transliteration, or English translation ).

Yom ha-shishi, Va-yechulu ha-shamayim ve-ha’aretz ve-chol tzeva’am.

Va-yechal Elohim ba-yom ha-shevi’i melachto asher asah, va-yishbot ba-yom ha-shevi’i mi-kol melachto asher asah.

Va-yevarech Elohim et yom ha-shevi’i va-yekadeish oto, ki vo shavat mi-kol melachto asher bara Elohim la’asot.

Savri maranan:

Baruch ata Hashem, Elokeinu melech ha-olam,borei peri ha-gafen. (Those present respond, “Amen.”)

Baruch atah Hashem, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kideshanu be-mitzvotav ve-ratzah banu, ve-Shabbat kodesho be-ahava uve-ratzon hinchilanu, zikaron le-ma’aseh vereishit, techilah le-mikra’ei kodesh, zeicher litziat mitzrayim.

Ki vanu vecharta ve-otanu kidashta mi-kol ha-amim, ve-Shabbat kodshecha be-ahavah uve-ratzon hinchaltanu.

Baruch ata Hashem, mekadeish ha-Shabbat. (“Amen”)

The sixth day. And the heavens and the earth and all their complements were finished. And G‑d finished by the Seventh Day His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And G‑d blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for on it He rested from all His work, which G‑d had created to do.

Attention Gentlemen! Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the world, who creates the fruit of vine.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, king of the world, who made us holy with His commandments and favored us, and gave us His holy Shabbat, in love and favor, to be our heritage, as a reminder of the Creation. It is the first of the holy festivals, commemorating the exodus from Egypt. For You have choesen us and sanctified us from among all the nations, and with love and goodwill given us Your holy Shabbat as a heritage. Blessed are You, Lord, who sanctifies Shabbat.

For the Hebrew please see Friday Night Kiddush Text.

Sit, drink at least half the wine, and pour the rest into cups for the people around the table.

Make sure that everyone gets a sip of the wine.

Your kiddush is complete, and you are ready to begin your shabbat meal.

Some notes: Kiddush is recited by the head of the household. It is also customary in many homes for each male over thirteen to make his own Kiddush and afterwards to recite the hamotzi blessing over two small challot.

The Kiddush cup, usually made of silver and often beautifully engraved, symbolizes the vessel into which G‑d's blessings are poured. The Kiddush cup holds four ounces of wine or grape juice. The one who recites the Kiddush should drink a little more than half, and distribute the rest among all those who are included in his Kiddush.

The Meal: After Kiddush, we wash our hands in the customary manner for eating bread. Each person fills a large cup and pours water two or three times, first on the right hand, then on the left. The hands are raised and the following blessing is recited:

Boruch atoh A-donoy, Elo-heinu Melech Ho’Olam, asher kidshonu bemitzvosov vetzivonu al netilas yodoyim.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to wash our hands.

Everyone then returns to the table and the head of the household raises the two challot and recites the hamotzi ("...Who brings forth bread from the earth"-see Blessings before Eating), after which we say "Amen." The challah is cut and dipped into salt. It is eaten right away to avoid interruption between the blessing and eating. The remaining challah is then distributed and each person recites the hamotzi blessing before eating.

The mitzvah of oneg Shabbat, Shabbat pleasure, is among the hallmarks of Shabbat. This means that we are to beautify Shabbat with the best this world has to offer. To this end, we sanctify Shabbat with three meals, one Friday night, one Shabbat afternoon, and one in the evening. Our finest foods are saved for Shabbat, including treats for the children and special delicacies. We also include fish and meat or chicken courses in the first two meals.