How to Observe Sabbath

Introduction to Shabbat
Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday evening and ends Saturday night when three stars are
visible in the sky (25 hours). On Shabbat we remember that God created the world and
then rested from His labors (Genesis 2:2).
Shabbat is considered the most important of the Jewish holidays — even more important
than Yom Kippur or the other High Holidays. This special day is to be marked by three
qualities: rest (menuchah), holiness (kedushah), and joy (oneg). During Shabbat we spend
time with family, friends, pray, read, and rejuvenate. We light candles to symbolically
drive away darkness and welcome the Light of the Mashiach Jesus into our hearts.
There are three main rituals regarding Shabbat observance:
1) Lighting the Sabbath candles
2) Saying Kiddush over wine
3) Reciting HaMotzi over challah
The Shabbat meal is a time when friends and families share highlights from the week and
sing table songs, called zemirot.
Remembering the Sabbath
In Genesis 2:3 we are told that God rested (shavat) from His creative activity and set
apart the seventh day as the memorial of the work of His hands. God called the seventh
day “holy” (kodesh), which means set apart as sacred, exalted, and honored.
The fourth of the ten mitzvot (commandments) is, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it
holy” (KJV):
`AvD >q;l . tB’V ;h; ~Ay-ta, rAkz ”
le·ka·de·sho ha·shab·bat et-yom za·khor
to keep it holy the Sabbath the day (of) Remember
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8)
The word translated “remember” (zakhor) means to recall or recollect past events and
experiences and renew them in the present. In a sense, then, such remembering is a form
of re-creation, where we reinterpret our lives and our identities in new ways.
How do we so remember? By candle lighting, reciting Kiddush, dining festively, dressing
in special clothes, praying, listening to Torah reading in synagogue, and learning and
discussing portions of Torah.

Guarding the Sabbath
Interestingly, the fourth commandment is repeated in Deuteronomy 5:12:
`AvD >q;l . tB’V ;h; ~Ay-ta, rAmv’
le·ka·de·sho ha·shab·bat et-yom sha·mor
to keep it holy the Sabbath the day (of) Keep
Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it… (Deuteronomy 5:12)
The word translated “keep” (shamor) means to guard something held in trust, to protect
and to watch closely. Not only are we to remember the Sabbath, but we are to guard and
protect its sanctity as something of great value.
How are we to guard it? By refraining from secular activities (usually thought of as one
of the forbidden 39 categories of work (melachah) which are not appropriate for this
special day (the Rabbinics defined 39 categories of activity that are forbidden on Shabbat
that derive from the assembling of the Mishkan (tabernacle). Traditionally all observant
Jews will refrain from these sorts of activities during the 25 hour period of Shabbat.)
Just as God set apart a time to focus on and honor the marvelous works of His hands, so
we are commanded to regularly set apart a time to focus and honor our own creative life
in God. Notice that both God and man set apart the Sabbath day and share in the glory of
creative life.
Some Jewish sages have said that the Sabbath is a picture of the Olam HaBah, or world
to come. In the rhythm of the Olam HaZeh, or present world, however, the Sabbath is a
sacred time to become spiritually reconnected with our true identities as God’s very
children. Are we regularly setting apart a time to remember the sacred work of God in
our lives? The Sabbath is our God-given opportunity and privilege.


Preparing for Shabbat

In order to make Shabbat a time of rest (menuchah), holiness (kedushah), and joy (oneg),
certain preparations need to be in place.
Planning for Shabbat
First, you may want to invite friends over to join you for Shabbat. It is especially
worthwhile to invite over those who are needy or who would otherwise be alone during
this special time.
Next, plan your Shabbat meal. This often includes doing some shopping and getting the
items together before Thursday. Traditional Erev Shabbat (Friday evening) meals
include fish, chicken, and roast beef – or you can go vegetarian. And please do NOT
serve ham or other food that is considered unkosher for your shabbat meal!
Be sure to read the weekly Torah portion to be spiritually prepared for Shabbat. The
Jewish sages actually recommend reading the portion through twice before Shabbat
begins on Friday evening. Since this involves a bit of study on your part, be sure to make
allowances in your schedule to find the time for your reading.
Setting the Shabbat Table
The Sabbath Table normally will include the following items:
A Tzedakah Box
Candle Holders and Shabbat Candles (at least two of each)
A clean tablecloth
Fresh flowers or other decorations
Kiddush cup(s)
Wine or grape juice
Challot (two loaves) with challah plate and cover
A challah knife
Salt (to be sprinkled on the challah before eating)
A hand washing basin with decorative towel
A siddur or shabbat song book
A Havdalah Candle (blue and white braided)
Besamim box (spice box)
The Shabbat Table should be ready – and the meal prepared – no later than Friday
afternoon, well before sundown (in the Northern Hemisphere, this is normally no
problem during the spring and summer, though fall and winter days are short!)


Giving Tzedakah

Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh.
“All Israel is responsible for one another.”
(Talmud Shavuot 39a).

It is customary to give tzedakah (charity) by putting a few coins in a Tzedakah box before
lighting the Shabbat candles. This money is for the purpose of tikkun olam, or the “repair
of the world.” Many families place the Tzedakah box next to the Shabbat candle holders
to remind them to perform this mitzvah. Encourage even the youngest of your children to
contribute a coin or two for the betterment of the world!
When money is put into the Tzedekah box, recite the following blessing:
rv ,a ] Ã~l ‘A[h’ %l ,m ö, Wnyhel {a / hw “hy > hT’a ; %WrB’
a·sher ha·‘o·lam me·lekh e·lo·hei·nu Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
who King of the universe our God LORD You Blessed
Åhq ‘d”C .h; l[ ; Wnw “öc iw > Ãwyt’w Oc .m iB. Wnv ‘öD >qi
ha·tse·da·kah al ve·tsi·va·nu be·mits·vo·tav kid·de·sha·nu
the tzedakah about and commanded
with his mitzvot sanctifies us
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu
al ha-tzedakah.

“Blessed art thou, Lord our God, Master of the universe, who hast sanctified us with thy
commandments, and commanded us about the Tzedakah.” [Amen.]

Lighting the Sabbath Candles

Sabbath candles are lit by the (eldest) woman of the house no later than 18 minutes before
sundown on Friday evening (i.e., before Shabbat begins). After kindling the candles, she
waives her hands over the flames three times (as if welcoming in the Sabbath), and covering
her eyes with her hands (so as not to see the candles burning) says:
Ã~l ‘A[h’ %l,mö, Wnyh,l{a/ hw”hy > hT’a; %WrB’
ha·‘o·lam me·lekh e·lo·hei·nu Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
the universe king (of) our God Lord are you Blessed
rAa tAyhil . Wnw”öciw > Ãwyt’wOc.miB. Wnv’öD >qi rv,a]
or le-hiyot v’tsivanu be·mits·vo·tav kid·de·sha·nu a·sher
a light to be and
commanded us
with his
sanctified us who
Å~l ‘A[h’ rAa Wnxeyvim. [ ;Wvy E ta, Wnl ‘-!t;n”w> ~yyIAgl .
ha-olam or meshicheinu yeshua et v’natan-lanu le-goyim
the light of the world our Messiah Jesus ( ) and gave to us to the nations
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
asher kideshanu bemitzvotav ve-tsivanu lehiyot or
le-goyim v’natan-lanu et Yeshua Meshicheinu or ha-olam.

Note: A Friday night service called Kabbalat Shabbat is
normally offered at the synagogue after the candle-lighting
time but before the Shabbat meal. From the time the candles
are lit until after kiddush is made, one should not eat or drink

Washing the Hands

Directly after reciting the Kiddush, everyone washes their hands in the prescribed ritual
manner to prepare for the blessing over the bread (see note, below). Customarily, after
reciting this blessing you do not speak until you have eaten the challah:
Ã~l ‘A[h’ %l,mö, Wnyh,l{a/ hw”hy > hT’a; %WrB’
ha·‘o·lam me·lekh e·lo·hei·nu Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
the universe king (of) our God Lord are you Blessed
Å~y Idö”y ” tl ;yjin> l[; Wnw”öciw > Ãwyt’wOc.miB. Wnv’öD >qi rv,a]
ya·dai·yim ne·ti·lat ‘al ve·tsi·va·nu be·mits·vo·tav kid·de·sha·nu a·sher
hands washing and commanded us
with his
sanctified us who
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam, asher
kideshanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu al netilat yadayim.

“Blessed art thou, Lord our God, Master of the universe, who hast sanctified us with thy
commandments, and commanded us about washing the hands.” [Amen.]
How to Wash Your Hands
Note: The ritual of Netilat Yadayim is actually a “ceremonial” cleansing. In fact, before
engaging in this ritual, your hands should already be clean! The Lord Jesus our Mashiach
opposed this traditional ritual of cleansing as essentially being meaningless (Matthew
15:2-14; see also Mark 7:3-16). It is included here for educational purposes only..

Blessing the Children

It is customary to bless your children on Shabbat. The blessing prescribed by tradition
invokes the names of Joseph’s sons and the names of the matriarchs, and includes the
“priestly blessing.” Parents may use this intimate moment as a chance to add their own
words of blessing and offer expressions of love and appreciation to their children. You
may wish to bless all your children together or bless each child individually or privately.
The Hebrew Blessing for Boys:
Åhv,n:m.kiw> ~y Ir:öp .a,K. ~yhil {a/ ^m.f iy >
v’khi-me·na·sheh ke·’ef·rayim e·lo·him ye·sim·kha
and like Manasseh like Ephraim May God make you
Yesimkha Elohim ke’efrayim v’khimenasheh.
The Hebrew Blessing for Girls:
Åha’l ew> lxer” hq’b.rI hr”f ‘K. ~yhil {a/ %mef iy >
v’le·’ah ra·chel riv·kah ke·sa·rah e·lo·him ye·si·mekh
and Leah Rachel Rebecca like Sarah May God make you
Yesimekh Elohim keSarah, Rivkeh, Rachel, v’leah.
The Hebrew Blessing for the Family:
Å^N raey ” Å^r hw”hy > ^k.rö
vi·chun·ne·kha e·ley·kha pa·nav Adonai ya·’er ve·yish·me·re·kha Adonai ye·va·re·khe·kha
and be gracious
to you
to you his face May the Lord shine and protect you May the Lord bless you
Å~Alv’ ^l. ~f ey “w> Ã^yl,öae wyn”P ‘ hw”hy > af ‘y I
sha·lom le·kha ve·ya·sem e·ley·kha pa·nav Adonai yi·sa
peace to you and give to you May the Lord turn his face
Yevarekhekha Adonai veyishmerekha. Ya’er Adonai panav eleykha vichuneka.
Yisa Adonai panav eleykha veyaseim lekha shalom.


Friday Night Kiddush
Kiddush means “sanctification” and is the blessing said over wine or grape juice on
Shabbat or festivals. Normally Kiddush is recited while holding a cup of wine, usually by
the father of the household. The blessing begins with Genesis 1:31-2:3 and ends with
thanks to God for the gift of the holy Sabbath:
#r ~yIm ;öV ‘h ; WLk ñuy>w: `yV iV ih ; ~Ay [rq,boö-yh iy>w: brw:
ve·ha·a·rets ha·sha·ma·yim vai·khu·lu ha·shi·shi yom vai·hi·vo·ker vai·hi·‘e·rev
and the earth the heavens were finished the sixth day. and there was evening and morning
hf'[‘ rv
w: `~a’b’c . lk’w>
‘a·sah a·sher me·lakh·to hash·she·vi·‘i bai·yom e·lo·him vai·khal tse·va·’am vekhol
He did that His work on the seventh day and God finished their host and all
%rw: `hf'([‘ rv
w: y[iêybiV .h ; ~Ay-ta, ~yh il{a/
mik·kol sha·vat vo ki o·to vai·ka·deish hash·she·vi·‘i et-yom e·lo·him
from all He rested on it for it and sanctified the seventh day God
`tAf[]l ; ~yh il{a/ ar”B ‘ rv
!n “B ‘r:w> !n “r”m ‘ yrIb.s;
v’rabo-tai v’raba-nan mara-nan savri
and teachers and masters distinguished
by your
The Blessing over the Wine:
Å!p,Gö”h ; yrIP . arEAB Ã~l ‘A[h ‘ %l,m ö, Wnyh el{a/ hw”hy> hT ‘a; %WrB ‘
hag·ga·fen pe·ri bo·re ha·‘o·lam me·lekh e·lo·hei·nu Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
the vine. fruit of Who creates the universe King of our God Lord are You Blessed
[Respond: Amen.]
Wnv’D >qi rv,a] Ã~l ‘A[h ‘ %l,m ö, Wnyh el{a/ hw”hy> hT ‘a; %WrB ‘
kid·de·sha·nu a·sher ha·‘o·lam me·lekh e·lo·hei·nu Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
sanctified us Who the universe King of our God Lord are You Blessed
ÃWnl ‘öyx in >h i !Acr”b.W hb’h ]a;B . Avd >q” tB ;v;w> ÃWnb’ö ac ‘r”öw> wyt ‘wOc .m iB .
hin·chi·la·nu uv·ra·tson be·a·ha·vah kod·sho ve·shab·bat va·nu ve·rah·tsa be·mits·vo·tav
He guided us and in favor in love and His holy Sabbath and was pleased with us with His mitsvot
Ãvd Eqoö yaerö”q .m il . hL’x iT . ~Ay aWh yK i ÅtyviarEb. hfe[]m ;l . !ArK ‘zI
ko·desh le·mik·ra·ei te·chil·lah yom hu ki ve·re·shit le·ma·‘a·sei zik·ka·ron
holy to convocations opening the day it is for // of creation. of the work a memorial
ÃT ‘v.D :öqi Wnt ‘öAaw> ÃT ‘r>x ;öb’ Wnb’ö yK i Å~yIrö:c .m i ta;yc iyli rk ,zEö
ki·dash·ta ve·’o·ta·nu va·char·ta va·nu ki mits·rai·yim liy·tsi·at ze·kher
did You sanctify and us did You choose us For from Egypt. of the Exodus a memorial
ÅWnt ‘l .x ;n >h i !Acr”b.W hb’h ]a;B . ^v.d >q’ tB ;v;w> Å~ym i[;h ‘ lK’m i
hin·chal·ta·nu uv·ra·tson be·’a·ha·vah kod·she·kha ve·shab·bat ha·‘a·mim mik·kol
You guided us and favor with love and Your holy Sabbath the nations. from all
[Å!m ea’] ÅtB ‘V;h ; vD Eq;m . hw”hy> hT ‘a; %WrB ‘
a·mein ha·shab·bat me·ka·desh Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
Amen. the Sabbath. Who sanctifies Lord are You Blessed
“Blessed art Thou, Adonai our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His
commandments and was pleased with us, and His holy Sabbath in love and in favor, He
gave us a heritage, a memorial of the work of creation. For it is the day beginning for
holy convocations, a memorial of the exodus from Egypt. For You chose us and
sanctified us from all the nations. And Your holy Sabbath with love and favor you gave
us a heritage. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who sanctifies the Sabbath.” [Respond: Amen.]
After this blessing is recited, it is customary to give each person present some wine from
the Kiddush cup.


Blessing the Bread

After hand-washing, the head of the household lifts the two challah loaves and says the
blessing over bread. Before reciting the blessing, however, the head of the household
lightly draws the knife across the challah making a slight indentation to indicate the place
for cutting, and then raises the loaves to recite the blessing:
Ã~l ‘A[h’ %l,mö, Wnyh,l{a/ hw”hy > hT’a; %WrB’
ha·‘o·lam me·lekh e·lo·hei·nu Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
the universe king (of) our God Lord are you Blessed
Å#r<a’öh’ !mi ~x,l , ayciAM öh;’
ha·’a·rets min le·chem ham·mo·tsi
the earth from bread the Who brings
[Respond: Amen.]
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.

“Blessed art thou, Lord our God, Master of the universe, who brings forth bread from the
earth.” [Amen.]
The head of the household cuts a piece of challah for himself, and then either dips it in
salt or sprinkles salt over the slice. He or she then cuts and distributes the rest of the
challah to those around the table.
Note that salt is used to commemorate the sacrifices in the Temple, which were always
required to be offered with salt.


Eating the Shabbat Meal

The Friday night meal is normally eaten after the Synagogue service (Kabbalat Shabbat).
The meal typically includes some kind of fish, soup and chicken or meat.
During the meal someone usually will offer a commentary on the weekly Torah portion
(i.e., the Torah portion that will be read in the Shabbat morning service). Such
discussions are called Divrei Torah.
Often Zemirot, or Shabbat table songs, are sung during the meal as well.
Some table songs (zemirot) include:
• Shalom Alechem
• L’cha Dodi
• Etz Chayim
• Kol HaOlam
• Lev Tahor
• Shabbat Shalom!


Grace after Meals
Jews normally do not say “grace” before meals (as do many Christians), but rather after
they have eaten. They do not “bless” the food, either, but rather acknowledge that God is
the One who provides for their sustenance.
The full grace said after meals, called Birkat Hamazon, is a rather long prayer that
involves several blessings (see a good Siddur for the entire recitation). An alternative,
shorter version is provided here (it is actually the first part of the entire blessing):
Ã~l ‘A[h’ %l ,m ö, Wnyh,l {a / hw “hy > hT’a ; %WrB’
ha·‘o·lam me·lekh e·lo·hei·nu Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
the universe king (of) our God Lord are you Blessed
Å~ym ix ]r :b .W ds,x,öB. !xeB . ÃAbWjB. ALKu ~l ‘A[h’ ta , !z”h ;
uv-ra-cha-mim be-che-sed be-chen be-tu-vo kul-lo ha-olam et ha·zan
with grace, kindness, and compassion in goodness who nourishes the whole world
ÅADs.x ; ~l ‘A[l . yKi Ãrf’B’-lk’l . ~x,l ö, !teAn aWh
chas-do le-o-lam ki le-khol-ba-sar le-chem no-tein hu
His mercy endures forever for to all flesh bread gives He
Wnl ö’ rsex’ al { dym iT’ lAdG “h; AbWjb .W
la-nu cha-seir lo ta-mid hag-ga-dol uv-tu-vo
we have never lacked And through His great goodness
Ãd[ ,w ” ~l ‘A[l . !Azm ‘ Wnl ö’ rs;x.y
va-ed le-o-lam ma-zon la-nu yech-sar ve-al
forever and we will not lack food
ÃlK{l ; snEr >p;m .W !z” la e aWh yKi ÅlAdG “h; Amv . rWb[ ]B;
la-kol um-far-neis zan el hu ki hag-ga-dol she-mo ba-a-vur
who nourishes and sustains all God He is for His great Name for the sake
Åar “B’ rv ,a ] Ãwyt’AYr IB.-lk’l . !Azm ‘ !ykim eW ÃlK{l ; byjim eW
ba-ra a-sher le-khol b’ri-yo-tav ma-zon u-mei-khin la-kol u-mei-tiv
He created which for all His creatures and prepares food and does good to all
Å!m ea ‘ ÅlK{h ; ta , !z”h ; hw “hy > hT’a ; %WrB’
a-mein hak-kol et ha-zan Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
Amen who nourishes all LORD are you Blessed
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam
hazan et ha’olam kullo betuvo, bechen bechesed uvrachamim.
Hu notein lechem lekholbasar ki le’olam chasdo.
Uvtuvo haggadol tamid lo chaseir lanu
ve’al yechsar lanu mazon le’olam va’ed,
ba’avur shemo haggadol. Ki hu El zan umfarneis lakhol,
umeitiv lakol umeikhin mazon lekhol b’riyotav, asher bara.
Barukh attah hazan et hakkol. Amein.
“Blessed are you, LORD our God, master of the universe, Who nourishes the whole
world in goodness, with grace, kindness, and compassion. He gives bread to all flesh, for
His mercy endures forever. And through His great goodness we have never lacked, nor
will we lack food forever, for the sake of His great Name. For He is God, who nourishes
and sustains all, and does good to all, and prepares food for all His creatures which He
created. Blessed are You, LORD, who nourishes all. Amen.” [Amen.]


Thanking God for Salvation

Of all the various berachot, this is one of the most important of all, since we come to be
in a right relationship with YHVH – the Father of Glory – by means of salvation through
Yeshua the Mashiach. It is fitting, then, to offer up thanks to the LORD for the way of
salvation given though Yeshua the Messiah:
Ã~l ‘A[h’ %l,mö, Wnyh,l{a/ hw”hy > hT’a; %WrB’
ha·‘o·lam me·lekh e·lo·hei·nu Adonai at·tah ba·rukh
the universe king (of) our God Lord are you Blessed
h[ ;Wvy >h; %r<D <ö ta, Wnl ö” !t;n” rv,a]
ha·ye·shu·ah de·rekh et la·nu na·tan a·sher
the way of salvation ( ) to us gave Who
Å!mea’ ÅaWh %WrB’ [ ;Wövy E x;yviöm’B ;
a·mein hu ba·rukh ye·shu·a‘ ba·ma·shi·ach
Amen He blessed be in the Messiah Yeshua
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
asher natan lanu et derekh ha-yeshuah
bamashiach Yeshua, barukh hu. Amein.
“Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who gave to us the way of
salvation though the Messiah Yeshua, blessed be He. Amen.” [Amen.].