Shabbat Prayers

The first order of Shabbat day is the morning prayers. Find out when Shacharit begins in your neighborhood synagogue and try to be there on time. After Shacharit, the Torah portion is read. This is the parshah of the week—throughout the week, we study this Torah portion, so that by the time Shabbat comes around, we can follow the Torah reading. The Rabbi delivers a sermon following the Torah reading, often relating to the reading or any relevant Torah topic. The final prayer is Musaf—an additional amidah, or silent prayer, said in honor of Shabbat. Many synagogues hold a small kiddush after the prayers. This is either a light snack or a full meal completer with challah and cholent and a good time to get to know other shul-goers. In order for the kiddush to count (if you prefer not to make kiddush at home), make sure to eat at least some cake or crackers immediately after or drink at least 3.5 ounces of wine

The Second Shabbat Meal

Upon returning home from the synagogue, we make kiddush for the second Shabbat meal. Shabbat day kiddush is somewhat more informal than Friday night: both the one making kiddush and those listening can choose to either sit or stand, but be consistent from week to week. Again, kiddush is performed on wine and the one reciting the kiddush drinks at least a mouthful of wine and distributes the rest to those around the table.

Fill the kiddush cup so that it overflows with wine and recite this introduction to yourself:

Ve-shameru venei Yisrael et ha-Shabbat, la'asot et ha-Shabbat le-doro'tam brit olam. Beini u-vein benei Yisrael ot hee le-olam, ki sheishet yamim asa Ado-nay et ha-shamayim ve-et ha-aretz uva-yom ha-shevi'i shavat va-yinafash.

The children of Israel should keep Shabbat, observing Shabbat throughout their generations, as an everlasting covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever, for in six days God created the heavens and the earth, and that on the seventh day He was finished and He rested.

Now lift the cup and recite the following out loud for all to hear.

Zachor et yom ha-Shabbat le-kadesho. Sheishet yamim ta'avod ve-asita kol melach'techa. Ve-yom ha-shevi'i Shabbat la'Ado-nay Elo-h-echa, lo ta'aseh chol melacha ata u-vincha u-vitecha avdecha va-amatecha vehem'techa ve-geirecha asher bi-she'arecha. Ki sheishet yamim asa Ado-n-y et ha-shamayim ve-et ha-aretz et ha-yam ve-et kol asher bam, va-yanach ba-yom ha-shevi'i.

Al kein beirach Ado-nay et yom ha-Shabbat va-yekadisheihu. Savri maranan ve-rabanan ve-rabotai: Baruch ata Ado-nay, Elo-he-inu melech ha-olam, borei peri ha gafen.

Remember the Shabbat day to keep it holy. You should labor for six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is Shabbat for the Lord your God. You may not do any work — neither you, your son, your daughter, your male or female worker, your animal, nor the stranger who dwells among you. For it was in six days that God created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that they contain, and He rested on the seventh day.

Therefore God blessed Shabbat and made it holy. With the permission of the distinguished people present: Blessed are you God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Drink a mouthful of the wine (if you can't, one of the participants can do it for you), and then pass the wine around to the other participants.

For Shabbat afternoon, warm food is provided by means of the covered stove on which food cooks slowly through the night. We may not light the stove, adjust the flame, or add food to the stove during Shabbat. (See Food Preparation on Shabbat.) The classic Shabbat dish is cholent—a slow cooking stew composed of any combination of ingredients (see our Recipes). It is prepared before Shabbat and then left on the blech or crockpot overnight—a truly unique Shabbat delicacy.

Shabbat Afternoon

Shabbat afternoon is the first quiet time on Shabbat—so far, from the onset of Shabbat, you've been busy either praying, eating, or sleeping. What do we do during this lull? This time informs our understanding of the Torah's conception of pleasure, and redefines the very idea of leisure for the Jew. The normal weekend activities—television, shopping, internet surfing, phone chatting—are unavailable. Rather, the Shabbat restrictions force us to focus on what's really important, and allow us to experience true leisure. We spend this time leaning Torah, enjoying the company of family, visiting with friends, and reading to our children. We allow the serenity of Shabbat to envelope us—there is no outside attraction to run to, so we spend the time at home, rejoicing in the Shabbat and the joys it gives us with those we really care about.

In the afternoon we recite the midday prayer—Mincha, preferably in a synagogue, or at home if we can't make it.

During the summer months, beginning with the first Shabbat after Passover through the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, we read from the Ethics of the Fathers--a collection of Torah's ethics and advice. Every Shabbat we read a different chapter—six in all—cycling through the Ethics several times to fully imbue ourselves with this timeless wisdom from the sages.

Shalosh Seudot

The third meal of Shabbat is called Shalosh Seudot, or Seudah Shlishit. It is eaten in the late afternoon before sunset. The Talmud teaches that the unique spiritual dimensions of this meal assures that one who fulfills his obligation to eat this third meal merits favorable judgment in the world to come.

According to some rabbinic opinions, Seudah Shlishit should be fulfilled with a full meal, beginning with challah or bread. Other authorities deem a light snack including foods requiring the blessing of mezonot; meat or fish; or at least fruit, sufficient.

Seudah Shlishit must begin before sunset. If the meal did not begin with challah or bread, it must be concluded before sunset.

Each Shabbat meal is imbued with its own particular theme and mood. During the third meal, as Shabbat lingers but a while longer, the feeling is reflective and spiritual. At the table of many Chassidic Rebbes, it was during the third meal that the deepest and most mystical teachings found expression, in both words and song. We take this time of Shabbat's waning to savor its last moments.