“In the beginning…the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. And on the seventh day God finished the work which He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all of the work which He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation which He had done.”
“And you shall keep the Sabbath day and make it holy.”
–The Fourth Commandment
Shabbat, the Jewish weekly day of rest, is the only Jewish ritual observance that is a part of the Ten Commandments.
Shabbat begins before sundown on Friday with the lighting of the two Shabbat candles, and blessings over the candles, the wine (Kiddush) and the challah (HaMotzi), and ideally, a long, leisurely Shabbat meal, followed by Birkat HaMazon, or Grace After Meals.
It is customary for the husband to sing “Aishet Chayil” (Woman of Valor) to his wife. Many welcome Shabbat by singing “Shalom Aleichem,” linking arms around the table.
Shabbat continues until after sunset on Saturday – after three stars can be seen in the sky. Shabbat formally ends with the Havdalah service during which there are blessings over the wine, spices and two intertwined candles.
Those who keep Shabbat consider it a gift – an eagerly awaited time to put aside the concerns of the week, to cease work and to consider more spiritual pursuits. Shabbat is even referred to as a bride or queen!
For more of our Shabbat Primer: