What is Shabbat? – Part I

Shabbat or the Sabbath is considered the seventh day of creation or the day G-d rested. There are many traditional ways of observing the Sabbath from attending temple (synagogue, shul) services on Friday night, Saturday morning, and Saturday evening; to having a sit down family style dinner on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Many observant Jews will not work, drive, or watch television, and enjoy the day of rest with friends and families. Some will catch up on some reading, others will attend shul all day, and many will just rest.

Shabbat is considered the most important holiday in the Jewish religion because it comes every week. Every Friday at sundown is when the holiday of Shabbat begins. It is customary for the women of the household to light candles and sing prayers. If a woman is married, they cover their head with a lace scarf before lighting the candles. The men always wear a Yamulke or Kippah while observing the Shabbat holiday.

When lighting the Friday night candles,

1) The married women cover their head.

2) Then the candles are lit.

3) The women wave their hands over the candles three times in a circle and then cover their

4) While eyes are still covered, the blessing over the candles is recited:

Barukh atah Adonai, Elohaynu, melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu l’had’lik neir shel Shabbat.

Blessed are You, our G-d, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us with his commandments, and commands us to light the Shabbat candles.

After the candles are lit, they are NOT blown out but left to burn out. The next step is to make Kiddush, which is saying the blessing over the wine. Another meaning of the word Kiddush is holy.

Depending on the family’s custom, usually the head male of the family leads the blessings to make Kiddush. A silver or porcelain wine cup is used and while holding the filled wine cup in one hand, the blessing is recited.

Barukh atah Adonai Elohaynu melekh ha-olam, borei p’riy ha-gafen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

The custom of washing your hands and saying a blessing is after the Kiddush. Then the blessing over the Challah or braided bread is done. This blessing is also called the Hamotzi.

These are just the basics and the beginning of the Shabbat customs. Please look for future blogs with more details.

Shabbat Shalom!

A full version of these blessings can be found at http://www.jewfaq.org/shabbat.htm