Shopping for Shabbat supplies

It is written in the Sefer Divrei Shalom that on the way to buy the Shabbat supplies, one should say: I am on my way to buy the Shabbat supplies in honor of Shabbat in order to fulfill the mitzva alluded to in the verse: and it shall be on the sixth day when they prepare what they bring, with the intention of rectifying the heavenly root of this mitzvah. One should then recite the verse vihi noam… (Psalms 90:17)

Preparing the Shabbat delicacies

...our soul first has to distance itself from physical pleasures.

In accordance with the teachings of the holy Arizal of Tzefat, who transmitted that the light of Redemption and the light of Mashiach become available on Friday afternoon after midday, those who adhere to the teachings of the Inner Torah attempt to finish their Shabbat preparation of deed before midday on Friday.1 At that time, all the levels of Creation begin their ascent to become included in the highest spiritual dimension. Ready to begin its own ascent, our soul first has to distance itself from physical pleasures. It is thus up to us to leave behind all that connects us to self indulgence and physicality and devote any available time to ruchani activities geared to prepare us for the coming Shabbat. As a result, our soul may ascend together with the spiritual dimensions and draw down the light of Redemption for the collective as well as for its personal needs.


Taste the Shabbat delicacies to correct seasoning if needed for the Seudot haMelech - King’s reception. You must project the image of one who is preparing the King’s reception and is checking to see if all are tasty and worthy, so that if they are not, he should add the correct spices. One may do this tasting during the cooking process, but most agree that it is better to do it after everything is ready, systematically tasting every single dish, sauce or dip to be served in the first se'uda.2 With all of this you are showing eagerness to receive the royal guest. You may say as you taste the different delicacies the phrase from the Mussaf Shabbat Amida which alludes to this tasting: "Those who taste [the foods before Shabbat] will merit life."

Praying Mincha early in the afternoon

In those communities where such minyans are available, it is desirable to go to synagogue to say the mincha-afternoon prayer at the earliest opportunity,3 for this is the time in which all the levels of Creation begin their ascent to become included in the highest spiritual dimension. By saying mincha at this time, our soul acquires the ability to ascend with this main element of the Shabbat Magnet.

Trimming one’s nails

The longer one’s nails are, the more the Heavenly forces of severe strict justice gain power over him. One should thus be anxious to trim the nails on one’s hands and feet every Friday, in honor of Shabbat. As the Zohar teaches:4

Our nails have a spiritual impurity...
Our nails have a spiritual impurity which bring about a severe measure of strict justice, and the outside forces find nourishment from the part of the nail protruding from the fingers. This allows the kelipot/evil husks to absorb a great condensation of holiness and permits them to dominate the world.

Immersing in a Mikveh

Rabbi Luria explains that a man’s ability to draw down upon himself the Shabbat holiness depends in part on his immersion in a mikveh on Friday.5 Immersion has two main purposes: One is to shed impurity and the other is to draw higher levels of holiness to oneself. An example of the first purpose is a woman’s immersion in order to become pure to be with her husband.

An example of the second purpose is the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur who required five immersions in order to acquire the lofty holiness he had to transmit to Israel. Moreover, one who entered the Holy Temple required immersion prior to entering.

Another example, which does not fit in either category, is the immersion of a righteous gentile who wishes to be among the souls of Israel; in this case there is no impurity in the general sense of the word but still, the convert may only enter the holiness of the collective souls of Israel by means of immersion.

Consequently, the purpose of immersion to shed impurity belongs to the category ‘departing from evil,’ whereas that of acquiring additional holiness is a way of ‘acting righteously.’ As we will see, the immersion prior to Shabbat has elements of both for it has a level of departing from evil and also involves the process of conversion,6 as well as that of the purification required to enter the Temple as a way of acting righteously.

Throughout the weekdays, Knesset Israel — the collective Community of Israel dwells in the lowest spiritual dimension which is the interface of our physical world in contact with the forces of impurity and thus requires immersion to become purified and attain the level of "Israel - His Soul Companion." The Chasidic master Baal Shem Tov stresses that only after repenting for past errors may we undergo this immersion.

...all week long man is enveloped by ‘garments of skin’...

As a consequence of the sin of the Tree of Good and Evil, all week long man is enveloped by ‘garments of skin’ and on Shabbat our souls ascend to the highest dimension of holiness. Since we cannot enter the King’s palace dressed in sackcloth, we thus have to shed our garments of skin by immersing in a mikveh in order to acquire the ‘garments of light’ worthy of the Shabbat holiness.

It is thus after we have finished reading the weekly parasha that we are ready to immerse in the mikveh for all the collective souls of Israel are at this point like the bride purifying herself to be with her bridegroom after the kidushin/marital ceremony. It is only after this reading that we have the spiritual ability to receive the Additional soul by going to the mikveh and immersing.7

Finishing touches to the home

Prepare your home, making sure that the beds are changed with fresh sheets, and the table beautifully set. Make sure to check the corners of the rooms to look for cobwebs and remove them, since they stand for outside forces.

Sharpen the knives that will be used for Shabbat preparations. Your intention is to drive away the forces of impurity. State that you are doing this in honor of the mitzva alluded to in the verse:

"and it shall be on the sixth day when they prepare what they bring." (Exodus 16:5)

We may add that the physical preparations leading to the Shabbat experience are a ‘spiritual gift’ for the man as well as the woman, as hinted to in the verse in which the Torah tells us to keep the Shabbat – ledorotam, refers to all the coming generations. Paying closer attention to the Hebrew letters making up this word as written in the Scriptures: (Exodus 31:17)lamed: dalet-reish-tof-mem - however, we notice the word ledorotam seems to be misspelled because the letter vav indicating the sound ‘o’ is missing. The way it is spelled one could read it as lediratam, which means ‘for their apartments’! is up to us to aim for a home worthy of the Divine Presence...

As Rabbi Moshe Luria explains a dira/apartment is a space prepared for the bride and groom to live together after they get married. The omission is thus a hint that we should read the word according to its deeper meaning. Namely, it is up to us to aim for a home worthy of the Divine Presence, much as a human bridegroom may fix his apartment, cleaning it up and making it as beautiful as he can, to make it ready to receive his bride who is coming soon, and this bride is the Shabbat Queen.

The head of the household must prepare the lights that his wife will kindle in honor of Shabbat, ideally pre-lighting the wicks and placing them in little glasses filled with pure olive oil.

Washing with hot water

On Friday, after we finish for preparing Shabbat, we take a shower8 and after that, in the room adjoining the bathroom, prepare a basin and small towel, as well as an appropriate vessel for the ritual washing of hands filled with hot water, bringing it out into the adjoining room. We may then use it to wash our face with this water while having in mind the verse at the end of Song of Songs that mentions "a flame from the Divine." (See the Song of Songs 8:6-7) We begin by washing our face while thinking of the expression mentioned, having in mind that at this time a divine flame emerges from the Divine Name spelled Yud and Hei, mentioned at the end of this verse, in order to get rid of the outside forces in our midst. We then dry our face, and we repeat the process with our hands, and then with our feet –– making sure that the water is not too hot for the skin of our feet to bear.9

Shabbat garments

We then get dressed in our Shabbat garments – four garments if possible, as worn by the Kohen Gadol/High Priest during Temple service. Rabbi Chaim Vital notes that his teacher the Arizal was careful about this and recommended that every single Jew should strive that every single Shabbat garment whether inner or outer be aimed to be worn only on Shabbat and never on the weekdays. If possible try to wear white garments on Shabbat.

Rabbi Eisenbach emphasizes that one who is wearing his Shabbat garments should say the following verse as a source of protection against spiritual accusers:

"Any weapon sharpened against You will not succeed, and any tongue that will rise against you in judgment, you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of G‑d, and their righteousness from Me – the word of G‑d." (Isaiah 54:17)