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Shabbat at Home
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Shabbat at Home

In Genesis, the first book of the Torah, we learn that God created the world in 6 days and that on the 7th day, Shabbat, He rested. We also learn about Shabbat from the fourth commandment: "Six days shall you labor and do all your work. But the 7th day is a Shabbat to the Lord, Your God.  You shall not do any manner of work for the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

Shabbat is a time to take a break, a time set aside for family and friends. Shabbat gives us time to reflect upon the world around us and end the electronic bombardment of our senses. Shabbat allows us to bring holiness into our rushed lives. It is a proactive move to create a special time. We cook special foods, wear special clothes, and invite guests.

SHABBAT CHECKLIST

  • Tzedakah Box

  • Shabbat candles and candle holders

  • Festive (usually white) tablecloth

  • Flowers

  • Kiddush Cup

  • Wine or grape juice

  • 2 challah loaves

  • Challah plate and cover

CREATING SHABBAT

From the time one begins Shabbat preparations until sundown on Saturday night there are many opportunities for celebrations and ceremonies that may appeal to your entire family. In this handout, we will describe a number of such practices.

Keep in mind that these rituals are not an end in themselves. Rather, they should facilitate a shift in personal consciousness by breaking life s normal routines. Rituals should enable you to enjoy, and be aware of, your most basic but precious blessings.

Remember, also, that Shabbat is not an "all or nothing" proposition. The important thing is to take the first step and begin to make this a special day.

A FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE

  • Invite friends or family for a Friday night dinner or Saturday afternoon meal

  • Cook your family s favorite foods

  • If you don t have time to cook, order or buy special foods

  • Learn how to bake challah, and encourage your children to participate

  • Clean and beautify your home

  • Put a fresh tablecloth on your dinner table

  • Arrange some flowers around your home

  • Put on your favorite clothes

SHABBAT AS A FAMILY

Pre-Shabbat Projects

  • On Wednesday, choose the menu with your children

  • On Thursday, go grocery shopping for Shabbat with them

  • Back challah with your children

  • Have your children make a special drawing or craft project for Shabbat

On Shabbat

  • Include your children in as many Shabbat rituals as possible

  • If you child has made a Kiddush cup or a challah cover in Hebrew school, make sure you use that one!
  • Sing songs at the dinner table

  • Turn off the television and enjoy one another

  • Play your child s favorite games on Shabbat to show them it is a special day

  • Take time together as a family on Saturday: read, rest, or take a walk

  • Use a game or simple questions to springboard interesting discussions

EREV SHABBAT TRADITIONS (FRIDAY NIGHT)

Y Candles Y

According to Genesis, light was the first thing God created. Just as the creation of the world was initiated by light, so too is Shabbat, as befits the celebration of creation (six days God worked creating the world, and on the seventh He rested).

We usher in Shabbat before sunset, with the candle-lighting ritual.  Traditionally, women light candles. Young children love to be present for this moment.

Two candles is the standard, but many families light one candle for each member of their household. First, light the candles.

Make three sweeping, circular motions over the flames, then rest your hand on your eyes. This gesture represents drawing the ugh of Shabbat towards you.

With your hands over your eyes, say the following blessing:

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehadlik ner shel Shabbat 

Blessed are you Adonai our God, ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to kindle the light of Shabbat.

You may take some time here for personal prayers.

Y Blessing the Children Y

Blessing your children can be a very special moment. Before beginning Shabbat dinner, take a moment and lay your hands on your child s head and give the gift of your blessing. You can use the traditional words below, or you can bless your children in whatever way you wish. Think in terms of your personal prayers for your child s well-being, protection and growth.

This is a custom, a tradition, not a commandment. The traditional blessing is based on the biblical blessings Jacob tendered to his grandchildren (Joseph s sons) Ephraim and Menasseh.

In many homes, it is also customary for the husband to read a special Psalm to his wife, one that recognizes how special she is.

     The blessing for a boy is:

Yesimcha Elohim k Efraim ye chiMenasseh

May God make you like Ephrain and Menasseh

     The blessing for a girl is:

Yesimech Elohim k Sarah, Rivka, Rachel v Leah

May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah

     And then we add for both boys and girls:

Yevarechecha Adonai v ishmerecha

Yaer Adonai panav elecha vichuneka

Yissa Adonai panav elecha, v yassem lecha shalom

May the Lord bless you and keep you;

May the Lord show favor and be gracious to you;

May the Lord show you kindness and grant you peace.

Y Kiddush Y

The Shabbat meal is preceded by the reciting of Kiddush, the sanctification of Shabbat over wine. In Jewish life, wine is a symbol for joy. The Kiddush describes Shabbat as a commemoration of both the universal (Creation of the World) and the particular (God s redemption of Israel from Egypt). One might ask - What does the Exodus from Egypt have to do with Shabbat? Only a people who are free can have a day of total rest.

In most families, the Kiddush is recited by the father. There is an introductory part which comes from the Torah (beginning of chapter 2 of Genesis), and then goes onto the more well-known Friday night Kiddush:

Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, bore p ri hagafen (all say Amen).

Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav veratzavanu b Shabbat kodsho beahava uv ratzon hinhilanu zikaron lemaase bereshit. Ki hu yom tehila le mikraei kodesh zecher litziyat Mitzrayim. Ki vanu bacharta veotanu kidashta mikol haamim b Shabbat kodshecha beahava uvratzon hinchaltanu. Baruch Ata Adonai mekadesh haShabbat (all say Amen, then drink).

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, king of the universe, creator of the fruit of the vine (all say Amen).

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, king of the universe, who sanctified us with His commandments. Lovingly You have favored us with the gift of Your holy Shabbat as our inheritance, a reminder of Creation, first among the sacred days which recall the Exodus from Egypt. You have chosen us for Your service, and given us a sacred purpose in life. In loving favor, You have given us Your holy Shabbat as a heritage. Praised are You God, who sanctifies the Shabbat (all say Amen).

Y Blessing over the Challah Y

There is a special ritualistic washing of the hands that is done in more traditional homes after Kiddush and before the blessing over the challot. When this is not done, we proceed straight from the Kiddush to blessing the challot.

Challot (the Hebrew plural of challah) are the braided loaves traditionally eaten on Shabbat. We bless two challot at every meal to commemorate the double portion of mannah that would fall from Heaven every Friday when the Jews were wondering in the desert.

Uncover the challot. Hold the two challot together, then recite the following blessing:

Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam hamotzi lechem mm ha -a retz

Blessed are You Adonai, our God, ruler of the universe, who draws bread from the earth.

This blessing reminds us of the source of our food, and is a good way to remind our children to be thankful for what they take for granted.

Y Blessing and Songs Y

After the Shabbat meal, Birkat HaMazon is recited. This blessing is not particular to Shabbat, but one that is recited every time one eats a meal with bread. The blessing gives thanks for the land and its bounty, and for God's goodness in feeding all creatures. Below is a translation of the first section of this long blessing.

Blessed are You Adonai, our God, ruler of the universe, who sustains the entire world with goodness, kindness and compassion. God gives food to all creatures, for God's compassion is everlasting. Through God's abundant goodness we have never yet been in want; may we never be in want of sustenance for the sake of God's great name. For God is a God who sustains all, does good to all, and provides food for all God's creatures which He has created. Blessed are You Adonai, who provides food for all.

After the blessing, it is customary to engage in communal singing.  Traditionally families sing Hebrew songs that are specific to Shabbat.  Singing increases the sense of festivity around the dinner table. Try some of the songs your children know and love. Ask your children to teach you the songs they ve learned in Hebrew school. It makes them feel very important.



Written and Collected by S. Lilienthal