“I have a precious gift in my treasury,” said G-d to Moshe; “Shabbat is its name; go and tell Israel I wish to present it to them.” (Masechet Shabbat 10b)
“A semblance of the World-to-Come is the Day of Shabbat.” (Shabbat Zemirot)
Material in this section is abstracted, with permission, from “The Sabbath,” by Dayan Dr. I. Grunfeld, published by Phillip Feldheim Publishers, Inc., 200 Airport Executive Park, Spring Valley, N.Y. 10977, “SABBATH Day of Eternity,” by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, published by NCSY, the Youth Division of the Orthodox Union, and “The Magic of Shabbos,” by Rabbi Mordechai Rhine, published by Judaica Press, 123 Ditmas Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y., 11218, plus some material from the OU Staff Writer.
THE CELEBRATION OF SHABBAT
Dayan Grunfeld describes the unique atmosphere of Shabbat, and the central role the Shabbat has played in Jewish History:
The Spirit of “Menuchah”
“All the week we have worked. All the week we have lived in the illusion that power over the world is in our own hands. This has been a veil hiding from our eyes the truth that G-d is the source of all power.”
“On Shabbat we have ceased from work. We have given up melacha, down to the last detail. As a result, the veil has been lifted. Now we can glimpse in all its glory that truth which lies behind our purpose in the world.”
“This is a moment which must fill us with wonder and joy. It must awaken our hearts towards that spiritual contentment which is the secret of Shabbat rest.”
“This is ‘Menuchah’ – the blessing of Shabbat experienced to the full, in the ways the Torah has shown us.”
“The deep insight of the Torah into the human soul, and the genius of the Jewish People, have combined to insure that this joy shall overflow into and transform our material surroundings. Shabbat, itself a great spiritual experience, is to be welcomed with wine and song and festive meals.”
Centrality of Shabbat
“Throughout the thousands of years of its history, Shabbat has always been a day of song and gladness in the Jewish home. Its coming is an eagerly awaited event for which the family begins preparing days in advance. In fact, the Shabbat casts its radiant glow over then whole week. The days themselves are named in Hebrew in relation to the Shabbat: ‘the first day to Shabbat,’ ‘the second day to Shabbat,’ etc.”
“Everything looks forward to Shabbat. Business and social arrangements are made in such a way that they will not interfere with the Shabbat. Little luxuries bought during the week are stored up for the Shabbat. When Friday comes, the tempo increases. Every member of the household plays his or her part in the preparations.”
“Above all, of course, it is the Jewish housewife who now comes into her own. It is her proud duty to ensure that the royal guest is received in a worthy manner. She must see to it that all the Shabbat food is prepared and cooked before Shabbat arrives, the ‘Shabbat-stove’ is set up, the table set with fresh linen and sparkling silver, with wine and challot (special Shabbat breads) and the Shabbat lights.” (The “Shabbat-Stove refers to an arrangement of the stove such that it is difficult or impossible to regulate the heat on Shabbat. This is usually accomplished by means of a sheet of tin placed on top of the stove, preferably with the edges bent down to cover the controls. Hot cooked food and an urn, or kettle, of hot water can then be placed on the stove before the commencement of the Shabbat, with the heat adjusted to keep them hot during Shabbat until needed)
“The whole family changes into Shabbat clothes, and a festive spirit permeates the house. The scene is set for Shabbat, the royal bride, to enter, with the return of the family delegation from shul.”
The Friday evening service is called “Kabbalat Shabbat,” “Welcoming the Shabbat.” Probably all who have participated in this Service would agree that one of the highlights is the “Lechah Dodi,” “Come My Beloved” prayer. This song to the Shabbat was composed by Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz, who was a leading member of the group of scholars that studied the Kabbala with the Arizal, and included Rabbi Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch.
The song is based on the Talmud’s description of the joyous greeting of the Shabbat (Masechet Shabbat 119a) by Rabbi Chanina and his students, where we find that the master would don his Shabbat garments and go out with his students to the fields, saying, “Come, let us greet the Shabbat Queen!”
To Sing with the Angels
In “The Magic of Shabbos,” Rabbi Mordechai Rhine describes the arrival at home on Friday night, following the synagogue service.
“Our Sages tell us that on Friday night, two angels accompany the Jew from the synagogue to witness the holiness of each Jewish home. The angels will view the Shabbat food, the harmony and serenity. They are well aware of the sacrifices you made to arrive at this moment. They say, ‘Blessed is this Jewish home. May they continue to celebrate many Shabbatot in health and happiness.’ ”
“In turn, we welcome the angels with the first song of the evening, Shalom Aleichem. We sing ‘Peace unto you, angels of the King of kings.’ Our focus is not really on the angels but rather on G-d, whom they represent. Ultimately, our Shabbat preparations were done to welcome G-d into our homes. Keep in mind the wonderful words of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk , ‘Where can G-d be found? Wherever man lets Him in!’ ”
“We are now ready to sing Eishet Chayil, which praises the woman of the home. Tradition tells us that the heart of the Jewish home is the Jewish wife and mother. She is the stabilizing force in Jewish life. ‘Far from pearls is her worth,’ (Proverbs, 31,10) is one of the verses of this meaningful song. We do not say that her value is more than pearls, but rather far from pearls. The two cannot even be compared – the Jewish wife and mother represents life itself.”
The Talmud links the idea of “Zachor at Yom HaShabbat LeKadesho,” “Remember the Day of Shabbat to keep it Holy” to Kiddush and Havdalah. For these two ceremonies mark the recognition and appreciation by the People of Israel of the special holiness which separates the Shabbat from the other days of the week. And their feeling of the acquisition of a “Neshama Yetera,” “an “Extra” or an “Enhanced” Soul which is needed to experience this Day, which is considered “me’ayn Olam Haba,” “analogous to, or having aspects of, the World-to-Come,” when the Day begins and the feeling of sadness, when the Day, and the enhanced sensitivity, depart.
The Shabbat “Kiddush,” or Sanctification Prayer, is then recited by the head of the household “over wine or grape juice. It is customary to use a beautiful cup or silver goblet which holds at least four and a half ounces of liquid.”
(The following is an excerpt from The Magic of Shabbos by Rabbi Mordechai Rhine.)
“Kiddush Transliteration and Translation:”
“In an undertone:”
“Va’yehiy erev, va’yehiy voker”
“And it was evening, and it was morning
“Yom ha’shishi Va’yechulu ha’shamayim ve’ha’aretz v’chol tzevaam. Va’yechal Elo-him ba’yom ha’sheviiy melachto asher asa, va’yishbot ba’yom ha’sheviiy mikol melachto asher asa.
Of the sixth day And creation of heaven and earth were completed with all of their array. On the seventh day G-d completed all of His creative activity, And He withdrew on the seventh day from the creative activity which He had done.
Va’yevarech Elo-him et yom ha’sheviiy va’yekadesh oto, ki vo shavat mikol melachto asher bara Elo-him laasot.”
G-d blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for on it He abstained from all the creative activity which G-d had created, to be developed
“Then recite the blessing over the wine or grape juice:”
“Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, Borei peri ha’gafen”
“Blessed are You, Holy Master, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine”
“This is the final part of Kiddush:”
“Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’ratzah vanu, v’Shabbat kodsho b’ahavah u’v’ratzon hinchilanu zikaron l’maaseh bereshit;
“Blessed are You, Holy Master, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and desired us, And His holy Shabbat with love and pleasure He gave to us as an inheritance, as a remembrance of the Act of Creation.
Ki hu yom techilah le’mikraei kodesh, zeicher li’yetziat Mitzrayim; Ki vanu vacharta v’otanu kidashta mi’kol ha’amim, V’Shabbat kodshecha be’ahavah u’ve’ratzon hinchaltanu; Baruch ata Ado-nai Mekadesh Ha’Shabbat”
For Shabbat is the first of the holidays, which are remembrances of the Exodus from Egypt. For You have chosen us, and made us holy from all the nations, and You gave us Your holy Shabbat with love and pleasure; Blessed are You, Holy Master, Who sanctifies the Shabbat”
“During the recitation of the Kiddush, the challah should be covered. A fancy challah cover (that can be purchased in any Judaica store) is great, but a simple napkin is sufficient. We cover the challah so that it wont be “insulted” that we make the Kiddush over the wine, and not over it. Commentators point out that the issue here is not the feelings of the challah which, after all, is inanimate, and isn’t in the realm of being insulted. The true lesson relates not to the challah, but to us, namely, that Shabbat represents peacefulness and harmony; such sublime goals are achievable only if we are sensitive to the feelings of others.”
We continue with Rav Mordechai as he gives the background of the ritual of “Netilat Yadayim,” or “Washing of the Hands.”
“Before eating bread, we wash our hands in a ritual manner. The concept of hand-washing has its roots in the purity present in the time of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. (The Second Temple stood from ca. 350 BCE to 70 CE, when it was destroyed by the Romans on Tisha B’Av.) This ritual washing of our hands before eating bread is one of the few vestiges of that glorious period when it was common for Jews to maintain a higher level of purity and cleanliness. It is with hope and prayer that we yearn for the day that the Temple will be rebuilt.”
“How to do it”
“Take a cup that holds at least four and a half ounces. Special washing cups with two handles are sold in Jewish neighborhoods and are particularly useful for this purpose.”
“Second, check to make sure that your hands are clean so that there is no ‘chatzitza,’ or interruption, between the water and your hands.”
“Fill the cup with water and hold it in your left hand. Pour the water smoothly over your right hand until the wrist. Then pour a second time on the same hand. Switch the cup to the right hand and repeat the same two pourings on the left hand.”
“Before drying your hands, recite the blessing:”
“Baruch Atah Ado-noy Elo-heinu Melech haolam, asher kidishanu bemitzvosov vitzivanu al netilas yodoyim.”
[“Blessed are You, G-d, King of the Universe Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the Washing of the Hands”]
“Remember, no talking till after the blessing on the bread is made and you have eaten from it.”
“Blessing on the Bread”
“After hand-washing, we return to the table to begin the meal. The head of the household lifts the two challah loaves and says the blessing over bread.”
“Baruch Atah Ado-noy Elo-heinu Melech haolam, hamotzi lechem min haoretz” [“Blessed are You, G-d, King of the Universe Who brings forth bread from the earth.”]
“We use two challah loaves for a particular reason. In the desert, after the Exodus from Egypt, the manna did not fall on Shabbos. Instead, a double portion fell on Friday (see Exodus 16:4-30). By using two loaves at our Shabbos meal, we remind ourselves of the sanctity of Shabbos and that G-d will provide for our material needs. The double portion that fell for our ancestors in the desert is the symbol that the Shabbos observer will not lose out because of his observance.”
“One of the loaves is cut and the bread is distributed to everyone. It is customary to dip the slices into some salt just as the Sacrifices in the Temple were salted before being consumed (see Leviticus 2:13).”
“The Shabbos Meal”
“There is a mitzvah to have a special Shabbos meal. Traditionally, the meal includes some kind of fish, soup and chicken or meat. If you dislike meat or poultry you can adjust the menu accordingly. If you have children, try to prepare some of their favorite dishes. Point out the items that they enjoy. Explain that these foods are in honor of Shabbos, thereby building excitement for this day.”
“The Shabbos meal is the perfect time for strengthening family relationships. When considering an increased commitment to Shabbos observance, it is common for family members to express different levels of interest. The goal should always be to experience Shabbos with an excitement that will make it enjoyable for everyone to partciipate. The Shabbos table is the perfect place to strive for tolerance and unity.”
“On Shabbos we enjoy plentiful, delicious food and take the time to thank G-d for it. In this joyous frame of mind, we sing the delightful Shabbos melodies, or zemiros. Many of these songs were authored by the sages and Kabbalists of old, and contain exalted insights into the secrets of Creation.”
“Just as the meal is important for our physical enjoyment, so too we must also ensure the fulfillment of our spiritual needs. The discussion of the weekly Torah portion is one way of introducing spirituality into the meal. Torah thoughts help us focus on Shabbos and the meal itself becomes holy. Similarly, if Shabbos is experienced in holiness, it can sanctify the entire week. Because Shabbos is the soul of the week, through it the mundane becomes sacred. Shabbos gives purpose to life.”
(The above was an excerpt from The Magic of Shabbos by Rabbi Mordechai Rhine.)
Continue with Rabbi Kaplan’s Day of Eternity
“Close the meal with the Birkas HaMazon (Grace After Meals). Thank G-d for giving you food and for the special blessing that comes with this day.”
“After the meal, it is time to relax. Use this time to learn about G-d and His teachings. Read the portion that will be read from the Torah that particular week. Take a quiet stroll.”
“Now is a time to be alone with G-d for a while. Take a calm walk alone, or sit in your room. Ask G-d to help you feel the holiness of Shabbos.”
“Reflect a moment on your life. Ask yourself: What am I doing and where am I going? What does life mean to me? What am I doing wrong, and how can I improve myself? Ask G-d to help you find the answers.”
“Be happy that you’re alive.”
“Shabbos is a time to get together. If you know others who keep Shabbos, gather together with them. Use the long winter Friday nights and summer Saturday afternoons as a time of companionship. Sing songs and tell stories. Use it as a time to learn together. Strengthen your bond of friendship.”
“As the evening draws to a close, let the serenity of Shabbos overwhelm you. ‘Sabbath sleep is a delight.’ As you prepare yourself for the night, say the Shema and place yourself in G-d’s hands. Fall asleep in Shabbos rest.”
“Begin the Sabbath day in the same mood. Spring out of bed, and make prayer your first order of the day. Let the morning service awaken you, both physically and spiritually. Make the second Sabbath meal at noon as much of a banquet as the first the night before.”
A Special Shabbat Food: Chulent
Rav Mordechai Rhine, in his book The Magic of Shabbos, describes a special food item which has become traditional throughout the world, and which has a unique history:
“The Torah, in Shemot 35,3 tells us, ‘You shall not burn a fire in your dwelling places on the day of Shabbat.’ When the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, an Oral Tradition accompanied it, and stated: This verse prohibits the kindling of a light on Shabbat, but does not prohibit us from leaving a fire burning on its own during Shabbat. Likewise, it is permitted to leave food on the fire during Shabbat until it is needed for the meal.”
“The Talmud tells us that some Jews (ca. 250 BCE – 70 CE) did not accept the Oral Law, and interpreted the Torah literally. They founded a sect called Tzedukim (named after their leader, Tzadok); also known as the Saduccees) and often acted in a way foreign to Jewish tradition. For example, the Tzedukim prohibited a Jew from leaving a fire burning in his home on the day of Shabat. To the Rabbis’ great chagrin, they would sit in cold and darkness, and eat cold food on Shabbat.”
“Because of the foolishness of this small group of Jews, the Rabbis decided to take action. In an effort to demonstrate that these Jews were wrong, the Rabbis encouraged the people to have hot food on Shabbat. This would certainly enhance the Shabbat meal, but more importantly, it would demonstrate our loyalty to the Oral Law and Jewish Tradition.”
“Although, technically any hot dish or drink is sufficient, a custom developed in the Northern European and Russian Jewish communities of eating chulent on the day of Shabbat (the ch of chulent is pronounced as in charity). The stew – made up of meat, potatoes, barley, beans and spices – is put up to cook before Shabbat. It remains cooking on a low flame until we are ready to enjoy it for Shabbat lunch. In this way, we enjoy hot food at the Shabbat meal, and at the same time, reaffirm our belief in the authenticity of the Oral Tradition.”
“In our time, chulent continues to affirm our commitment to Torah law, but it has taken on an additional, unique dimension. For those who are not observant, hot food can be produced any day of the week, Shabbat included. For the observant Jew, however, chulent represents the ‘designated hot food’ of the Shabbat day. By leaving this stew cooking straight through Shabbat, the observant family is able to enjoy a steamy dish for the Shabbat meal. It has therefore become common for chulent to represent an exciting turning point in a person’s and in a family’s commitment to Jewish observance.”
“Judaism, and Shabbat in particular, are processes of continual spiritual growth. The Shabbat table is the ideal place for this important process. Whether it is through the songs, the exchange of ideas, the chulent or the Shabbat chicken, everyone can enjoy Shabbat and identify with it. The family unit grows stronger through the time spent together and the unity that Shabbat fosters.”
There are many activities which people can engage in during the “free” hours of Shabbat which can enhance the unique quality of the day. These vary to some extent, depending on whether one is a young child, a teenager, or an adult.
For the child, and for his or her parents, there is the extra measure of relaxed “quality time” that parent and child have to share with each other. During this time, the parents can read to the children, tell stories, take walks, or review the lessons, particularly Torah lessons, that the child has learned during the week. There are also various youth groups to which children can go, to spend time with their friends, in a positive setting.
For the “teen,” Shabbat can be an excellent time for self-development and for development of social skills. Much can be accomplished in informal Torah study groups led by older “teens,” or “Chavruta,” one-on-one, or, in general, just-a-few-member Torah study sessions. Many synagogues sponsor youth groups which have educational and/or recreational activities appropriate for this age group, which allow opportunities for socializing in an appropriate setting. Shabbat is also an excellent time for teenagers to become involved in “Chesed” organizations, visiting the sick in hospitals, the elderly in nursing homes, etc.
Married couples can devote more time to each other, enhancing and building upon their “shalom bayit,” the peacefulness and completeness of their homes.
Adults, as well as teens, can organize lectures and discussion groups in which knowledgeable speakers can provide information to the Jewish Community on timely and relevant issues.
Shabbat is an excellent time for visiting one another’s homes and strengthening the bonds of friendship.
The synagogue should play an important role in providing Torah classes by the rabbi for all age groups.
Extra sleep is also considered appropriate and desirable on Shabbat, in line with the principle of “Shayna b’Shabbat Taanug,” “(Extra) Sleep on Shabbat is considered a Delight!”
Basically, Shabbat is an occasion for “Quality Time” for individual Jews, for families and for the Jewish People, to spend with Hashem.
Go to shul for the Shabbat Minchah Service
In its Shemoneh Esray, “Menuchah,” the unique spirit of tranquility of Shabbat, is again defined, as Dayan Grunfeld did for us in different terms, which converged to the same meaning, at the beginning of this section:
“You are One and Your Name is One; and who is like Your people Israel, one nation on earth. The splendor of greatness and the crown of salvation, the day of contentment and holiness have You given to Your people. Avraham would rejoice, Yitzchak would exult, Yaakov and his children would rest on it, a rest of love and magnanimity, a rest of truth and faith, a rest of peace and serenity and tranquility and security, a perfect rest in which you find favor. May your children recognize and know that from You comes their rest, and through their rest, they will sanctify Your Name.”
Saying Farewell – “Havdalah”
After davening Maariv, say “Farewell” to the Shabbat through the Ceremony of “Havdalah,” or Separation, using wine, spices and the flame of a multi-wick candle.
Introduction (to the Introduction):
“Hineh! E-l Yeshuati – Evtach v’lo Efchad! Ki Azzi v’Zimrat Ya-h Ado-nai, Va’Yehi Li Liyshuah!”
“Behold! The Mighty One is my Salvation – I shall therefore be confident, and will not be afraid! For my strength and my song is G-d, The Master of All, And He Has Been for me a Salvation!”
“U’Sheavtem mayim B’Sasson, Miyma’ayenei Ha’Yeshuah!”
“And you shall draw water with joy, From the Springs of Salvation…”
As we acknowledged stepping up in holiness with a blessing over wine in the Kiddush at the beginning of Shabbat, so do we mark the stepping down and away from the holiness of Shabbat at its end with a blessing over wine in the Havdalah.
“Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, Borei peri ha’gafen”
“Blessed are You, Holy Master, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine”
In order to revive ourselves from the loss of the “Neshama Yetera,” the extra dimension added to our soul by Shabbat, we inhale from aromatic spices and, naturally, precede this with a blessing to G-d Who Provided this aspect of Nature as all others,
“Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, Borei minei Besamim”
“Blessed are You, Holy Master, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who creates various species of aromatic spices”
According to Jewish Tradition, Man discovered fire, as the first manifestation of his G-dly intelligence, on the very first “Motzaei Shabbat,” Saturday night, at the very beginning of his emergence into history. As the foundation of all technology and by virtue of its representation of the aspect of comfort in human life, this discovery deserves a special blessing:
“Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, Borei m’orei HaEsh”
“Blessed are You, Holy Master, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who creates various sources of fire”
Immediately after the conclusion of the above blessing, each member of the assembly, led by the person who is reciting the Havdalah, makes use of the fire, by observing the reflection of the fire in his or her fingernails.
The Havdalah Ceremony then concludes with its fundamental message, that our world is a world of two basic spiritual dimensions: “Kodesh,” that which is holy, and “Chol,” that which is mundane, and not invested with special holiness. It is man’s task to “work” in the mundane world for six days each week, trying to invest in those days as much holiness as he can, but to observe the Seventh day, the Day of Shabbat, as a Special Day, invested with Holiness by the Creator:
“Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, HaMavdil bein Kodesh L’Chol, Bein Ohr L’Choshech, Bein Yisrael LaAmim, Bein Yom HaShevii Lesheshet Yemei HaMa’aseh, Baruch Ata Ado-nai, HaMavdil bein Kodesh L’Chol”
“Blessed are You, Holy Master, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who Distinguishes between the holy and the mundane, Between light and darkness, Between the People of Israel and the other nations, Between the Seventh Day and the Six Days of Activity, Blessed are You, Holy Master, Who Distinguishes between the holy and the mundane.”
Following the Havdalah, the person who recited it, or someone who heard it recited, drinks most of the cup of wine.
The Havdalah Ceremony enshrines in our mind’s eye the spiritual glow of the Shabbat, so that until the middle of the week, we continue to Remember the past Shabbat fondly, and during the remainder of the week, we begin to anticipate the coming Shabbat, with “Great Expectations” of experiencing yet again the feeling of enhanced holiness and of closeness to Hashem.