What is the day for the Sabbath

Like all Jewish festivals, the Sabbath begins the evening before, since the days in the Jewish calendar begin in the evening and end in the evening. It is spent in the family and in the synagogue. One turns to one's fellow human beings in particular.
The Sabbath is a day of rest from work, on which the family opens up to those who are worried, sick or in mourning, but also share in the joy of others.
This day of rest is an institution with a fixed content.

Since God rested on the seventh day, man should rest from his work on this day. This rest should extend to everyone, regardless of social difference.
The observance of the Sabbath is so important that it is said: "The Sabbath outweighs all the commandments, whoever keeps the Sabbath according to the rules has recognized the whole Torah, as it were, and whoever profaned him is as if he had denied the whole Torah. " (Shulchan Aruch, 404)


Necessary preparations will be made on Friday. These start in the morning. The house is cleaned and everything is brought in for the Sabbath meals. The mother prepares the meals (warm meals are pre-cooked). The father buys fish and meat and lights the fire so that the food can be kept warm.

All work is prohibited on the Sabbath. You get the barches (braided Sabbath bread) or bake them yourself. The mother secretes challah (a small piece of bread or dough) as an offering to be burned. That is a biblical prescription. The Mother of the House alone has this commandment to observe, as well as the lighting of the Sabbath lights.

After the work is done, you wash yourself thoroughly or take a bath and put on festive clothes. In the late afternoon, the father attends the prayer service in the synagogue while the mother makes final preparations and sets the table.
In front of the father's place are the two bars, which are covered with a cloth, next to them a wine goblet and a bowl of salt. The wine and bread are main components of the Sabbath ritual as they symbolize the blessing of the earth. The Sabbath candles in the center of the table are lit by the mother when dusk falls and day turns into evening. The mother raises her hands to these lights and says the blessing:

"Praise well, yes praise you oh God,
our God and King of All You.
Who swore to us
by his command
And prescribed us
the Sabbath light
to ignite "(Geis 65).

Now the Sabbath has begun and all daily work is suspended.

The second part of the service on Friday evening is all about the coming Sabbath. After some psalms, a song is sung in which the Sabbath is welcomed as the bride. In the last stanza, the congregation turns to the entrance of the synagogue to welcome the incoming "Bride Sabbath". This part of the liturgy is called "Receiving the Sabbath".
At the end of the service, the prayer leader speaks the kiddush (= sanctification of the Sabbath) over a cup of wine, so the Sabbath is inaugurated.

At home, people wish each other a good Sabbath. Parents lay hands on their children and bless them. Before you sit down at the table, the song of the Sabbath angels is sung:

"Peace greet you fine,
To be messengers of peace,
Your messengers from the heights,
From the king of kings
From the holy one - praise be to him. "

The mother takes a seat on a decorated chair and the father honors her with "the praise of the capable housewife". This lists the virtues of the Jewish woman in alphabetical order.

The family gathers around the festive table, the father fills the wine goblet, picks it up and speaks the kiddush. The kiddush recalls the basic biblical ideas with which the Sabbath is connected: creation and the exodus from Egypt. After the kiddush, the father takes a sip of wine and passes the mug on to the youngest member of the family.

Before meals, ritual washing is customary. Now the father cuts a barch, breaks it into pieces and sprinkles it with salt. This begins the first Sabbath meal (at least three meals are required for this rest and holiday.

You eat soup, vegetables, potatoes, meat and fish, with pike being particularly popular. The meal consists of at least three courses, which also include a dessert. A typical dish is Schalet, a dish made from legumes, meat and eggs. Old Hebrew Sabbath songs are sung between each course. The meal ends with grace. Then you sit together and relax. The Sabbath candles light up, and people drink tea or coffee and have sweets.
On the actual Sabbath (Saturday) one gets up later than on the weekdays. The family goes to the morning service and then has the second Sabbath meal at home. Spiritual reflection, rest and relaxation now determine this day. It is like 'Family Day', you go for a walk, although the length of the walk is limited. The afternoon nap should not be missing.

There are 39 forbidden main jobs on the Sabbath (all planned, purposeful activities associated with the working day fall under this prohibition). An exception is, for example, when a human life is at risk. A rabbinical tradition says. "The Sabbath was given to you and not you to the Sabbath."

The third Sabbath meal is usually served in the late afternoon. The evening service takes place at nightfall. At the end the hawdala (difference blessing) is spoken. In it, God is praised for the difference between holy and ordinary days.

The hawdala ceremony again includes wine, a can with fragrant spices and a candle that the youngest child is holding. The father speaks the blessing about it. Then he holds the mug and the candle in his hands and pronounces the blessing of the difference. Only the males drink the wine, with the rest the candle is extinguished. Songs are sung again that are full of longing and expectation.

The Sabbath is at the heart of Jewish life.

written by Nadine W.
Elective basic course "Jewish history and culture" 2000/2001