I like to think of Sabbath as my island of tranquility. We all work hard during the weekdays and have little time to stop, relax and just think about things. To me this holy day is just that time to set aside all my weekday concerns and devote myself to higher pursuits.
Sabbath is one of the best known Jewish rituals. A day of rest and spiritual enrichment. Its name originates from the idiom “shavat”, which means to cease, or to rest.
Now you may know the obvious reason for which you are commanded to rest on this day. But, I know of another reason, do you know what I’m referring to?
Are you familiar with the expressions “Zachor” and “Shamor”? The reason we celebrate this great day, stems from these two commandments: Remember (zachor) and observe (shamor).
The commandment of remembering has dual significance. First, as a commemoration of God’s creation of the universe. Second, as a commemoration of our freedom from slavery in Egypt.
The first is mentioned in the book of Exodus:
“because for six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and on the seventh day, he rested; therefore, the Lord blessed the shabbat day and sanctified it.” Meaning, that by resting on the seventh day and sanctifying it, you acknowledge that God is the creator of heaven, earth and all living things.
The second is mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy:
“remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord, your God brought you forth from there with a might hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the shabbat day.”
Well, It’s all about freedom. By resting on Sabbath day, you remind yourself you are free. Or, that Shabbat frees you from you weekday concerns, deadlines and commitments.
This commandment forbids you to engage in any kind of “melacha” this holy day. You may be familiar with this Hebrew word’s translation as “work”. But in the Torah its meaning is wider and refers to “any creative efforts”. God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh day. We honor this act by ceasing to do any work on the Sabbath.
Sabbath is welcome in on Friday at sunset, The shabbat candles are lit and a blessing is recited. This ritual officially marks the beginning of the holy day. At dinner time the family gathers together and the man of the house holdes the kiddush cup and recites the kiddush blessing over wine, sanctifying The holy day from the work day. The usual prayer for eating bread is recited over two loaves of challah. The family then eats dinner. It ends on Saturday at nightfall, when three stars are visible in the sky. At this time the family performs a concluding ritual called havdalah . This is a symbolic act separating holy day from the coming working days.