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Day(s) to the Shabbat:

















"I have a precious gift in my treasury," said HASHEM to Moshe; 'Shabbat' is its name; go and tell Israel I wish to present it to them."
(Tractate Shabbat 10b)


"Shabbos" or "Shabbat"
"Shabbos" - the Ashkenazic pronunciation, or "Shabbat" - the Sephardic pronunciation, either way it is the Hebrew word for the seventh day of the week; known in English as the "Sabbath." The root of the word means "to rest or desist." Shabbat, the Divinely appointed day of rest, begins (18 minutes) before sundown on Friday and ends Saturday night when three stars appear in the sky. (About 45 minutes to 1 hour after sundown.)

The very first thing in all of the Torah to be called holy is Shabbat.
The Torah states (Bereishit / Genesis 2:1-3):
"By the seventh day, G-d completed His work which He had done... G-d blessed the seventh day, and He made it holy..."

What is the holy Shabbat?

We could spend hours and write pages of descriptions, yet we could not fully explain Shabbat. Shabbat has to be experienced to understand it.

Lets go back to the creation of the world.

For six days Hashem created the heavens and the earth. On the seventh He rested. That's what Shabbat is all about. Six days a week we go about our lives working and playing and doing what it takes to live in this world. But by the time the sun sets on Friday night, the hustle and bustle of the world is put behind us and the Shabbat celebration surrounds us. On Shabbat we don't perform any work. Instead, we proclaim that Hashem is the master of all creation.

Observing Shabbat is one of the Aseret Hadibrot - Ten Commandments. Hashem simultaneously commanded that the Jews "remember" (Zachor) and "safeguard" (Shamor) the Shabbat.

ZACHOR (remember) is the Commandment to observe the positive precepts of our Shabbat.

We fulfill the "remembrance" of Shabbat through positive actions which honor Shabbat:
· Reciting Kiddush (a special prayer over wine before the first and second Sabbath meals);
· Eating three festive meals;
· Wearing our nicest clothes;
· Saying special Shabbat Tefillot (prayers);
· Laining (reading) the Parsha (Torah portion) of the week;
· Singing Zemirot (Shabbat Table Songs); etc.

SHAMOR (safeguard) is the Commandment to avoid violation of the negative precepts of our Shabbat.

We fulfill the "safeguarding" aspects of Shabbat by refraining from 39 categories of "melacha" (creative activity), which the Jews had to perform on weekdays in order to build the Mishkan. We also refrain from other activities, which may be halachically permitted, but are not fitting or appropriate on this special day.

There are many customs and commandments regarding the observance of Shabbat. Its observance is referred to as Shmirat Shabbat. One who traditionally observes Shabbat is called a Shomer Shabbat.


The observance of Shabbat is mentioned a number of times in the Torah, most notably as the fourth of the Aseret Hadibrot - Ten Commandments (Shmot / Exodus 20:8-11 and Devarim / Deuteronomy 5:12-15). Here are some references:

"Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Six days shall you work and accomplish all your work; but the seventh day is Sabbath to HASHEM, your G-d; you shall not do any work - you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maidservant, your animal, and your convert within your gates - for in six days HASHEM made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, HASHEM blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.
(Shmot / Exodus 20:8-11)

"....However, you must observe My Sabbaths. for it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I am HASHEM, Who makes you holy. You shall observe the Sabbath, for it is holy to you; its desecrators shall be put to death, for whoever does work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among its people. For six days work may be done and the seventh day is a day of complete rest, it is sacred to HASHEM; whoever does work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.
The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath an eternal covenant for their generations. Between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever that in a six day period HASHEM made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed
(Shmot / Exodus 31:12-17)

"For six days labor may be done, and the seventh day is a day of complete rest, a holy convocation, you shall not do any work; it is a Sabbath for HASHEM in all your dwelling places."
(Vayikra / Leviticus 23:3)

  "Safeguard the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as HASHEM, your G-d, has commanded you. Six days shall you labor and accomplish all your work; but the seventh day is Sabbath to HASHEM, your G-d; you shall not do any work - you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maidservant, your ox, your donkey, and your every animal, and your convert within your gates, in order that your slave and your maidservant may rest like you. And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and HASHEM, your G-d, has taken you out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm; Therefore HASHEM, your G-d, has commanded you to make the Sabbath day."

(Devarim / Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

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PLEASE NOTE: This is just a VERY BASIC introduction. There are many complex laws regarding Shabbat, and this is not the forum for decisions regarding what is or is not allowed on Shabbat. This is just to give the reader a flavor of the intricate halachot involved. A competent halachic authority should be consulted with any questions.

Melacha (plural "melachot").

1. Melacha refers to the 39 categories of activity that are forbidden on Shabbat. Melacha, is not "work." At least not the English definition of the word "work." You may not carry a needle out into the street on Shabbat, yet you may drag a heavy sofa across the room. So what Melacha is forbidden on Shabbat?

The 39 categories of activity that are forbidden on Shabbat, are all labors that have something in common - they are creative activities that exercise control over one's environment.

Specifically, the Talmud derives these 39 categories from the fact that the Torah juxtaposes the commandment to cease work on Shabbat in Shmot Parshat Vayakheil, with its detailed instructions on how to build the Mishkan*, and the preparation of its components, as described in Shmot / Exodus 31 and 35.
*[Mishkan - Tabernacle; the portable, temporary version of the Holy Temple that the Jews carried throughout the forty years in the desert into Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel), until they built the Beit HaMikdash]

This is to teach us, explains the Talmud (Shabbat 49b), which activities constitute melacha: any creative act that was part of the mishkan's construction represents a category of work forbidden on Shabbat. These categories are forbidden by the Torah.

2. Toldot - Work which is different from that done in the Mishkan, but which achieves the same result. These types of melacha are also prohibited by the Torah.

3. Rabbinic Decrees - There are a number of additional activities that are forbidden by the Rabbis. There are several categories of decrees that prohibit:

a. Activities that might lead directly to the violation of a Torah prohibition.

b. Use of items not designated for Shabbat use (muktzah).

c. Activities that might lead one to think that a prohibited activity is permissible (Ma'arit Ayin - The appearance of the eye).

d. Activities that are not appropriate for Shabbat, even though they are technically permissible (Uvda D'Chol - [resembles] weekday activity). The Navi Yeshayahu (Prophet Isaiah (58:13-14) recorded a prohibition against speaking of business and against weekday-oriented activities. See below for many more examples.

Lamed-Tet Melachot

Here is the list of the 39 Melachot (main activities) prohibited on the Shabbat:

For more details about the 39 Melachot, click here.

1. Zoreah - Sowing (seeding)

2. Choresh - Plowing

3. Kotzair - Reaping (cutting)

4. M'amair - Gathering (bundling sheaves)

5. Dush - Threshing

6. Zoreh - Winnowing

7. Borer - Sorting (selecting, separating)

8. Tochain - Grinding

9. Miraked - Sifting

10. Lush - Kneading

11. Ofeh / (Bishul) - Baking/cooking

12. Gozez - Shearing

13. Melabain - Whitening (bleaching)

14. Menafetz - Disentangling, Combing

15. Tzovayah - Dyeing

16. Toveh - Spinning

17. Maisach - Mounting the warp (stretching threads onto loom)

18. Oseh Beit Batai Neirin - Setting two heddles (preparing to weave)

19. Oraig - Weaving

20. Potzai'ah - Separating (removing) threads (Unweaving)

21. Koshair - Tying a knot

22. Matir - Untying a knot

23. Tofair - Sewing

24. Ko'reah - Tearing (unsewing - ripping)

25. Tzud - Trapping

26. Shochet - Slaughtering (Killing)

27. Mafshit - Skinning

28. M'abaid - Salting/tanning process [1]

29. Mesharteit - Tracing (scratching) lines

30. Memacheik - Smoothing / scraping

31. Mechateich - Cutting (to shape)

32. Kotaiv - Writing two or more letters

33. Mochaik - Erasing two or more letters

34. Boneh - Building

35. Soiser - Demolishing

36. Mechabeh - Extinguishing (putting out a flame)

37. Ma'avir - Kindling (making a fire)

38. Makeh B'Patish - Striking the final blow (Finishing an object)

39. Hotza'ah - Transferring (transporting) from domain to domain (carrying)

[1] The list of Melachot in the Talmud (Tractate Shabbat 7:2) includes salting hides and tanning as separate Melachot. The Talmud (Tractate Shabbat 75b) states that these two are really the same Melacha, and amends the Mishna by inserting tracing lines, as the twenty-ninth Melacha.

These 39 Melachot are divided into six (6) groups:

Group I = Numbers 1-11
Group II = Numbers 12-24
Group III = Numbers 25-31
Group IV = Numbers 32-33
Group V = Numbers 34-35
Group VI = Numbers 36-39
Group V = Numbers 34-35
Group VI = Numbers 36-39

Group I is connected to the field work.
Group II is connected to the making material curtains
Group III is connected to the making of leather curtains
Group IV is connected to the Krushim (beams of the Mishkan)
Group V is connected to the putting the walls of the Mishkan up and down
Group VI is connected to the final touches of the Mishkan

The 39 melachot are not so much activities as categories of activity. For example, while "sorting" usually refers exclusively to the separation of chaff from grain, it refers in the Talmudic sense to any separation of intermixed materials which renders edible that which was inedible. Thus, picking small bones from fish falls under this category. (Gefilte fish is the traditional Ashkenazi solution to this problem.)

In the event that a human life is in danger, a Jew is not only allowed, but required, to violate any Shabbat law which stands in the way of saving that life.

Some Mitzvot we do not perform on Shabbat

1. We do not put on Tefillin
2. We do not blow shofar on Shabbat Rosh Hashana
3. We do not use the Etrog and Lulav on Shabbat Sukkot
4. We do not read the Megillah on Shabbat Purim

Sample Melachot - Activities Forbidden on Shabbat

Watering Plants,
Squeezing Fruits,
Playing or carrying musical instruments,
It is forbidden to read bills or secular papers.

It is forbidden:

To Cook,
To Write,
To light candles,
To Mince (litchon),
To Pick.


PLEASE NOTE: This is just a VERY BASIC introduction. There are many complex laws regarding Muktzah on Shabbat, and this is not the forum for decisions regarding what is or is not allowed on Shabbat. This is just to give the reader a flavor of the intricate halachot involved. A competent halachic authority should be consulted with any questions.

(Lit. 'set apart.') An object forbidden to be used or carried on the Shabbat and Festivals because of its not being fit or meant for use on that day. One must avoid doing anything on Shabbat that could lead to work - i.e. carrying money. As a result, anything that cannot be used, money, a hammer, etc., also cannot be handled. The broad term for such items is "Muktzah." This includes objects like tools, wallets, money, matches, cigars, electronic devices, writing instruments, tickets, candlesticks, musical instruments, and so forth.

The main categories of muktzah are:

Tools whose primary use is for work prohibited on Shabbat - for example, a hammer.

Muktzah because of (concern about) monetary loss.

This covers expensive items not ordinarily handled at all and items which are only used for work that is not done on Shabbat -- for example, the specialized knife used for kosher slaughtering.

Muktzah in and of itself.

Objects that have essentially no use at all -- for example, garbage, broken utensils.

Muktzah because of prohibition.

Damaged objects which one might be tempted to repair on Shabbat (thereby doing prohibited work) in order to use them -- for example, a chair with a broken leg.

Muktzah because of a mitzvah.

Objects whose only purpose is for a mitzvah - for example, the components of a Sukkah.

Nolad - Newborn items.

Objects that did not exist before Shabbat -- for example, an egg laid
on Shabbat.

(Source: R' Simcha Bunem Cohen, Muktzah: A Practical Guide, ch. 1)

The basic rule with all these categories of objects is not to move or touch them, but the specific guidelines and exceptions vary with each category. The overall effect of observing these rules is to enhance one's detachment, on Shabbat, from the everyday world of activity.

Forbidden Activities

We refrain from other activities, which may be halachically permitted, but are not fitting or appropriate on this special day. The following activities are in accord with Jewish law but are not mandated:

Riding bicycles or skateboards, roller skating

Carrying pocketbooks.

Playing ball in the street or otherwise in public view (within an Eruv) is also included. Children under the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah may play ball in their yards; it is up to parents to weigh how their children's attitude to Shabbat is affected by playing these games.

Taking a nature walk or hike;

Reading magazines, newspapers or books.

Permitted activities

The following activities are encouraged on Shabbat:

Visiting family and friends (within walking distance of home and synagogue);

Spending Shabbat together with your own immediate family;

Synagogue attendance;

Hosting family and friends to sleep over for Shabbat;

Having family and friends for Shabbat meals;

Singing zemirot, etc. (commonly done during the Shabbat meals);

Reading, studying and discussing Torah and commentary, Mishnah and Talmud, halacha and responsa and Midrash.

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"And it shall be on the sixth day (of the week) that they shall prepare that which they shall bring home."
(Shmot / Exodus 16:5)

Taking Challah

Mikveh, Shabbat Outfits

Shnayim Mikrah Ve'echod Targum

Food for the Poor


Set Shabbat Table


Shabbat is the highlight of the Jewish week, eagerly awaited with great anticipation. The countdown to Shabbat begins with the days of the week. Sunday is not called Sunday, Monday is not called Monday, etc. Rather, the days of the week are reminders of Shabbat whenever we mention them. They are named in Hebrew in relation to the Shabbat: Sunday is called 'the first day to Shabbat,' Monday is called 'the second day to Shabbat,' etc." (For more about this, see Ramban, Shmot 12,2 and Bamidbar 20,8).

Shopping - Provisions for Shabbat

Everyone looks forward to Shabbat. Business and social arrangements are made in such a way that they will not interfere with the Shabbat. Shabbat is welcomed with forethought and preparation. Little luxuries bought during the week are stored up for the Shabbat. The careful planning continues until just before Shabbat begins. It is a Mitzvah for every individual to personally prepare something each week in honor of Shabbat. In fact, the Talmud relates many stories of Chachomim (Sages) who made sure to prepare several things before Shabbat by themselves, even though they may have had servants and maids to do it.

It is even recommended that one should arise early Friday morning and immediately begin Shabbat preparations so that they will be ready in time for Shabbat. One may even learn a little less Torah on Friday, in order to spend time preparing for Shabbat.

It customary to spend more in honor of Shabbat, because the Talmud tells us, (Tractate Beitza 16a), that whatever you earn during the year is pre-designated on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, except what you spend to honor the Shabbat, holidays and money that is used for Torah education of children. These expenses are up to the individual; the less one spends, the less one gets in return. But the more one spends on these three categories, the more G-d gives in return. Thus, spending money to honor Shabbat is, in fact, a great investment for which G-d repays us much more in return.

Here are some ideas to consider when preparing for the Shabbat:

· Invite guests to join you for Shabbat dinner or lunch, - especially the needy.
· Use something new or wear new clothing for the first time on Shabbat.
· Plan a special menu for Shabbat meals.
· Prepare for a Shabbat/Torah conversation at the table.

Taking Challah / Hafroshat Challah

Many women bake their own Challah before Shabbat, so that they can do the special Mitzvah of removing a small piece of dough called "Challah." A token amount of dough (the size of an olive) is removed from the dough and thrown into the oven fires while reciting a specific bracha / blessing. This reflects the portion given to Kohanim in the times of the Beit Hamikdash. (Bamidbar / Numbers 15:17-21). Nowadays, since there are no longer officiating Kohanim, the challah is removed and burned. This is one of the three special mitzvot for women. The Shabbat bread that we call “challah” is so named as a reminder of this mitzvah. For specific rules, click here.

Mikveh, Shabbat Outfits

We bathe, put on clean clothes and get ready to welcome the Sabbath. Many men immerse in a mikveh (spiritually purifying bath) Erev Shabbat (Friday afternoon) to honor the Shabbat.

Reading the Parsha twice and Targum once on Erev Shabbat.

In conjunction with the public reading of the Parshat Hashavuah - (the weekly Torah portion), our Sages require that every individual study it on his own and be familiar with its basic meaning. (Talmud, Tractate Berachot 8a, See O.C. 285). To achieve this level of mastery, they instituted a three-tiered review of the parsha: Each verse of the text itself must be read twice, to master the hebrew, followed by the Aramaic translation known as Targum Onkelos' so that it is understood. The name of this mitzvah is "Shnayim Mikrah Ve'echod Targum - twice the Scripture and once the translation of Onkelos."

Food for the Poor

We must not forget those less fortunate than ourselves. In many towns and cities across the country and in Eretz Yisroel, there are organizations that provide food and Shabbat necessities to the needy before Shabbat. Here in Brooklyn, we have a worthy organization called "Tomche Shabbos," which delivers food anonymously to sustain poor families through the Shabbat and Holidays. In Eretz Yisroel, Yad Eliezer is one of the foremost organizations, servicing the poor and the needy.

Tzedakah - Charity

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

It is customary to give tzedakah by putting a few coins in a tzedakah box before lighting the Shabbat candles. Many families place a special tzedakah box next to the Shabbat candle holders to remind them to perform this mitzvah. Encourage even the youngest child to contribute a coin or two! Of course, don't forget to remove the tzedakah box from the table before lighting the candles. (See Muktzah below).


Clear out all pockets and wallets of change before Shabbat for tzedakah.

Place coins in children's hands so they can get used to giving tzedakah.

Set Shabbat Table - Challah & Candles

Tzedakah Box
Candle Holders
Shabbat Candles
Objects on the Shabbat Table:
     Tablecloth, decorations, flowers, etc.
     Kiddish cup(s)
     Wine and/or grape juice
     Challot (two loaves or small challah rolls, pita)
     Challah bread board or plate with challah cover
     Challah knife
Handwashing cup and towel
Siddur (Prayerbook) or Shabbat booklet that includes the Kiddush, Shabbat Zemirot (songs) and Birchat HaMazon (Grace After Meals).

"Reminder List" for Friday Afternoon at Home

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"If you will observe the kindling of the Shabbat lights, I will show you the lights of the redemption of the Jewish people."-

Yalkut Shimoni

"If you proclaim the Sabbath 'a delight'; the holy one of Hashem 'honored'.... then you shall be granted delight with Hashem..."

Isaiah 58:13-14

With a blessing on her lips and a prayer in her heart, the Jewish woman ushers in Shabbat HaMalkah, the Sabbath Queen, into her home.

For centuries, lighting the Shabbat candles has been one of the most significant mitzvot bestowed upon Jewish women. Tradition recounts the miracle of our Matriarch, Sarah, whose Shabbat candles miraculously burned from Shabbat to the following Shabbat. Our Sages tell of our Matriarch, Rivkah, who lit the Shabbat candles at the tender age of three.

The Holy Zohar teaches, "A woman kindling the Shabbat candles, with joy in her heart, brings peace on earth, health and happiness to her family, and is blessed with children who brighten the world with the light of tradition."


Women light candles every Friday evening to mark the onset of Shabbat. In the beginning of Sefer (the Book of) Bereishit / Genesis, the Torah describes the six days of creation.
After each day the Torah says "And there was evening and there was morning... "
This teaches us that the day begins from the previous evening. Thus, Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday evening.

Candles are lit about eighteen (18) minutes before sunset, since lighting fire is forbidden on Shabbat. (This is the custom here in the United States. In Yerushalayim, the custom is to light candles 30-40 minutes before sunset.) By lighting the candles ahead of the sunset and the new day, we eagerly borrow time from the work week to extend the time of Shabbat as well as ensuring that the candles will be lit properly before sunset.
For the correct candle lighting time in your area, consult the list of candle lighting times at www.torahtots.com or those provided by the Orthodox Union.

It is a custom that the husband or man of the house light the candles and blow them out before Shabbat, so that the woman lighting the candles will have an easier time lighting the candles.

The candles should be lit in the dining area where the Shabbat dinner will take place in order to honor the Shabbat by brightening the festive meal. For safety reasons, make sure that the candles
are out of the reach of young children, away from curtains, and are not exposed to an open window. The candles will not be moved or touched after they are lit until Shabbat has ended because they are muktzah, and during Shabbat, one may not handle something that is muktzah.

It is customary for a married woman to light at least a pair of candles as a reminder of both versions of the Fourth Commandment in the Aseret Hadibrot (Ten Commandments - see above). "Zachor - Remember" and "Shamor - Observe" the Shabbat.
Many people light more than two (either with multiple candlesticks or a candelabrum), some following the custom of lighting one candle for each family member and others finding another symbolism in a given number, such as seven (a Kabbalist custom). Single women living alone traditionally light one candle. In some families, as soon as a young girl can grasp the idea of Shabbat and is able to recite the brachot / blessings (about three years old), her mother teaches her to light her own candle. The child lights her candle first, with her mother present in case she needs assistance.

Although the mother of a family or the women present customarily lights the candles, it is a household requirement. A man living alone or away from home should light the candles and say the blessing over them. Similarly, in the absence of a woman or when a woman is too ill to do so, the man present is required to light candles.

The time of lighting is considered especially auspicious for praying to G-d for health and sustenance. These prayers are readily acceptable because they are offered during the performance of this great mitzvah.


Have you ever wondered why a woman lights the candles, then covers (closes) her eyes while reciting the bracha / blessing on the Shabbat candles?
The reason is, that generally, Brachot / blessings are recited before a Mitzvah is performed. (Case in point, you say the bracha on the Matzah and then you eat the Matzah; On Sukkot, you say the Bracha "Al Netilat Lulav," and then shake the Lulav and Etrog in six directions),
However, in the case of the Shabbat candles, once the woman makes the bracha, she has already accepted the Shabbat and its restrictions upon herself. In that case, she would no longer be allowed to light the Shabbat candles.
Therefore, the woman lights the candles before saying the bracha, while it is not yet Shabbat. But in order for her to fulfill the concept of saying the bracha before the act, she does so by not completing the mitzvah entirely until after saying the bracha.

Here's how:

After lighting the candles, she immediately covers her eyes. She then says the bracha and only afterwards uncovers her eyes and enjoys the candlelight. This way, she has fulfilled the concept of saying the bracha before the act, since the act of lighting is not complete until she actually enjoys the light.
That is the technical reason. Practically, covering the eyes helps one to concentrate better on the bracha and the silent techinot / prayers that are said at that time - prayers for health, wealth and all good things.


Light the candles - Two candles (minimum) are lit,


Spread your hands around the flames and draw them inward towards the face, in a circular motion, symbolically drawing in the light of the candles and the sanctity of the Sabbath. Some do it three times.

Then cover your eyes and recite the following bracha / blessing:

Please note that this page contain the name of G-d.
If you print it out, please treat it with appropriate respect
Baruch A-tah A-do-nai, Eh-lo-hay-nu Meh-lech Ha-olam, Asher Ki'-de-sha-nu B'-mitz-vo-tov, V' tzi-vanu L'-had-lik Ner Shel Shabbat.
Blessed are You, HASHEM our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Shabbat.

You can also add your own techina / prayer - ask G-d for whatever you wish.

Uncover your eyes, and gaze briefly at soft light of the candles, enjoy the light, and feel the holiness of the Shabbat descend upon you and your household. Wish everyone present "Shabbat Shalom."

This techina / prayer is traditionally said by women after candlelighting.
The words in brackets are included as they apply.

Please note that this page contain the name of G-d.
If you print it out, please treat it with appropriate respect

May it be Your will HASHEM, my G-d and G-d of my forefathers, that You show favor to me [my husband, my sons, my daughters, my father, my mother] and all my relatives; and that You grant us and all Israel a good and long life; that You remember us with a beneficent memory and blessing; that You consider us with a consideration of salvation and compassion; that You bless us with great blessings; that You make our households complete; that You cause Your Presence to dwell among us. Privilege me to raise children and grandchildren who are wise and understanding, who love HASHEM and fear G-d, people of truth, holy offspring, attached to HASHEM, who illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and with every labor in the service of the Creator. Please, hear my supplication at this time, in the merit of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, our mothers, and cause our light to illuminate that it be not extinguished forever, and let Your countenance shine so that we are saved. Amen.

The kindling of Shabbat lights with a bracha designates the beginning of Shabbat (for the person lighting the candles). Of course, by nightfall, Shabbat will have arrived, in any case, for it does not depend on the actions of Man.

For a streaming video demonstration of how to light Shabbat candles (using the Ashkenazic/European Hebrew pronunciation) click here.

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3 Meals

Shabbat - The Ingredient


Divrei Torah


"A semblance of the World-to-Come is the Day of Shabbat."

(Shabbat Zemirot)

The Shabbat Meals

On Shabbat we have Shalosh Seudot - three meals:

  • The opening Friday night dinner after the Synagogue service,
  • The Shabbat noonday meal, and
  • Seudat Shlishit - the third meal, generally a light repast served after Mincha services and before sundown.

The Talmud (Shabbat 117b-118a) relates this to the pasuk in Shmot, Parshat Beshalach, (16:25):
"Moshe said, "Eat it (the Manna) today, for today is a Shabbat for HASHEM; today you shall not find it in the field."
The threefold use of the word HAYOM (today) in reference to eating the Manna is the basis for the rule requiring three meals on Shabbat. One possible explanation for the frequency and amount of food eaten on Shabbat is that on Shabbat every Jew gets a 'neshamah yetairah' - an extra soul that descends from heaven. This soul needs feeding too. Just kidding.

The traditional Friday evening Shabbat meal includes some kind of fish, soup and chicken or meat. The custom to eat fish is to remind us of the mercies of Hashem. Fish have no eyelids, so that their eyes are never closed; so too are the eyes of Hashem open at all times to watch over those who fear Him. The traditional gefilte fish does not require that bones be removed, a form of separation forbidden on Shabbat.

Some have a custom to eat some kind of kugel ([usually noodle or potato] pudding) on Shabbat.

Shabbat - the Ingredient

A story about the special quality of Shabbat foods, from the Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 119a:

Caesar once said to R' Yehoshua ben Chananya:
"Why is it that the food cooked for the Shabbat has such a penetrating aroma?"
[R' Yehoshua] answered him:
"We have this one spice, it is called Shabbat, which we throw into [the Shabbat food], and its aroma is very penetrating."
[Caesar] said to him:
"Give us some of it."
[R' Yehoshua] said to him;
"Whoever observes the Shabbat, for him [the spice] is effective; but for one who does not observes the Shabbat, it is not effective."

Another story from the Midrash:

R' Yehudah HaNassi (Rabbi Judah the Prince) prepared a meal for the Roman King Antonius. It was on a Shabbat and R' Yehudah served him cold foods. A few days later, the rabbi prepared another meal for the king. This time the meal took place on a weekday and hot dishes were served.
The Roman king was satisfied with both meals, but he had liked the Shabbat meal better. He said to the rabbi:
"You served both a cold and a hot meal, but strangely enough I like the cold dishes much better."
"I am not at all surprised at this," answered the rabbi.
"The cold dishes contained an ingredient which the hot dishes did not."
"Why did you not put this ingredient also into the hot dishes?" Antonius asked. "Even if it is very expensive, you should have bought it for me. I would have gladly refunded you the money."
The rabbi replied:
"The ingredient I refer to cannot be bought on weekdays. Its name is Shabbat. Shabbat adds an extra flavor to all dishes, and so they taste much better than on weekdays."

Lechem Mishneh - Two Challot
The Blessing of HaMotzi over two Loaves of Bread - Lechem Mishneh

The grandeur and finery at the Shabbat table makes it clearly distinguishable from any weekday setting. Its crowning glory is the Lechem Mishneh - two braided challot covered with a beautiful cloth. This centerpiece sets the Shabbat (and Yom Tov) seudot (meals) apart from other dining experiences.

The tradition of "Lechem Mishneh" has its roots In Shmot / Exodus, Parshat Beshalach, (16:4) where the Torah relates how Hashem provided the Bnei Yisroel (children of Israel) with 'manna' - 'bread from heaven'. Hashem told Moshe, "I shall rain down for you bread (food) from heaven; let the people go out and gather each day's portion on its day, so that I can test them, (to see) whether they will follow My teaching or not."

For forty years, while the Jews wandered through the desert, Hashem provided them with Manna, a miraculous nutritious food that could be prepared to taste like any food your heart desired. The manna came down each morning, covered with a layer of dew. The Bnei Yisroel were commanded to gather only "one omer" (a standard measure of the time - the volume of about 43 eggs) for each member of the household. Those who tried to gather more than their share quickly learned that no matter how much manna a person collected, when they brought it home it amounted to exactly "one Omer" per person. You couldn't save it either; any manna left over to the next day spoiled.

This was fine for weekdays. But what about Shabbat? The Manna didn't fall on Shabbat. Every Friday, they received a double portion of manna in honor of the Shabbat. And it did not spoil overnight.

The two Challot that we place on the Shabbat table commemorate the double portion of manna that fell every Erev Shabbat for forty years while the Jewish people were traveling in the desert. We cover the Challah to commemorate the layer of dew that covered the manna every morning.

Divrei Torah (Torah Discussions)

The Talmud Tractate Megillah 12b states, that when Jewish people eat and drink, they begin with words of Torah and words of praise; Shabbat meals provide a great opportunity for family and friends to share Divrei Torah (Torah discussions), usually relating to the Parsha - the Torah Portion of the Week, which is read in the Synagogue Shabbat morning. Many children attending Yeshivot and Jewish Day Schools come home on Friday with 'Parsha sheets,' usually containing a brief summary of this Torah portion, and often come with Divrei Torah and a list of discussion questions parents can review with their children. Many children are very anxious to show off their newly acquired knowledge at each Shabbat meal. "Parsha on Parade," Torahtot's own famous "Weekly Torah Newsletter for Kids" can also form the basis for very lively discussion.

Zemirot (Sabbath Songs)

The words of praise mentioned in the Talmud are the Zemirot, the Ashkenzic word for the table hymn sung during or directly after the Shabbat meals. Sefer Chasidim considers the singing of zemirot as a mitzvah. Zemirot which date from as far back as the 10th Century have achieved prominence and are printed in most siddurs, composed by great Torah scholars and Kabbalists. Their melody fills the air with delight, and their lofty poetry lifts our hearts in praise of Hashem for giving us the treasured gift: Shabbat! Many also sing modern Israeli or Hebrew songs.

At the end of the meal, as required after every meal (not just on Shabbat), where bread is eaten, the Birchat Hamazon, Grace after Meals, is recited. We add two special prayers - "R'tzei V'Hachalitzeinu" & "Harachaman."

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Sholom Aleichem

Aishet Chayil

Blessing the Children


Netilat Yadayim


(Kaballat Shabbat - Welcoming the Shabbat and Maariv- the Evening Service).

Kaballat Shabbat - The introductory portion of the Friday evening services welcoming the Shabbat, includes Psalms, readings and songs, the most famous is the ...

Lecha Dodi - Come my Beloved

The popular mystical song to the Shabbat was composed by the sixteenth century kabbalist Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz (c. 5260--5340 / 1500--1580 CE), teacher and brother-in-law of the famed kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Codovero.

He based the song;
"Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah,
- Come, my beloved, to meet the [Sabbath] bride,
Penei Shabbat Nekabla,
- The face of the Shabbat Queen we will receive."
on the description in the Talmud, (Shabbat 119a) of the Sages joyous greeting of the Shabbat:
"Rabbi Chanina would wrap himself in his cloak and say, “Come, let us go and greet the Shabbat Queen.” Rabbi Yannai would don his robe and say, “Enter O bride! Enter, O bride!”

The holy Ari Z'l included this hymn in his edition of the siddur, and thus it eventually became an integral part of the Shabbat liturgy of Jewish communities everywhere.

Sholom Aleichem

This song of praise, sung on Friday evening is based on the Talmudic passage (Shabbat 119b) which teaches that a good angel and an evil angel accompany every man home from the synagogue on Friday evening. If they find the house in good order with the Shabbat table set festively bedecked with glowing candles and the family dressed in their best, the good angel says, "May the next Shabbat be as this one," and the evil angel must respond, "Amen, may it be so." If on the other hand, they find the reverse, the house is not fit for the welcoming of royalty (the Shabbat Queen), the evil angel says "May the next Shabbat be as this one," and the good angel must unfortunately answer, "Amen."

It is only proper to greet the two angels, bless them, and seek their blessing.

Aishet Chayil
From "A Taste of Judaism - From A to Z"

Aishet Chayil (Al. Eishet, Eshet)

(Lit. 'The Woman of Valour. An Accomplished woman').
Song/Poem written by Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon). The poem has an acrostic arrangement in which the verses begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in regular order. Traditionally sung Friday night, between "Shalom Aleichem" and the Blessing of the Children prior to the Shabbat meal. Aishet Chayil consists of the concluding twenty-two verses of Mishlei / Proverbs (31:10-31), which, on the surface, is a hymn to the perfect wife who is the mainstay of her home. She is trusted by her husband, obeyed by her servants, and admired by her people. She is kind to the poor and gentle to all. She is self-respecting and dignified. Husband and children praise her as the source of their happiness. Her goal in life is to foster the growth of Torah knowledge and good deeds in her husband and children---her ultimate accomplishment.

Rab' Yitzchak ben Nechemiah says in Yalkut Mishlei: "Just as Hashem gave the Torah to Israel by means of the 22 letters of the Alef-Bet, so He praises the righteous woman by means of the 22 letters."

Although the Commentators agree that the chapter is allegorical - it is variously interpreted: as a reference to the Shechinah, (divine presence), the Sabbath, the Torah, wisdom, and the soul. The very fact that the Jewish woman was chosen as the vehicle through which to describe such lofty spiritual manifestations is in itself a profound tribute to her.

Blessing the Children

The beginning of Shabbat is a particularly appropriate time to bless the children. It is customary to bless children of all ages, either in the synagogue after services or on returning home before Kiddush. Both hands are laid on the head of the child to symbolize a blessing imparted with complete generosity of spirit.

For a boy:
May G-d make you like Efraim and Menashe.
For a girl:
May G-d make you like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah.
For both:
May Hashem bless you and protect you. May Hashem cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May Hashem raise His face to you and establish peace for you.


To sanctify the Shabbat, Friday evening's dinner and Shabbat lunch begin with Kiddush, a testament to Hashem's creation of the world. Kiddush is recited over wine (or grape juice) because wine "gladdens a man's heart" (Psalms 104:15) and wine is the substance designated for singing the praises of Hashem (Talmud, Tractate Brachot 35a).

Some Laws of Kiddush

1. The goblet should be beautiful, usually a silver cup reserved for this purpose, which holds at least 4 1/2 liquid ounces. It should be filled to the rim.
2. The wine should be of good quality.
3. We stand during the Kiddush of Friday night (at least during Vayechulu), because the Friday night Kiddush testifies that Hashem, the Creator of the world, rested on the seventh day, declared it holy, and gave us, the Jewish people, this gift, this holy day to observe.
4. When there is no wine, the Friday night kiddush may be recited on the Challah.
5. Women, too, are obliged to hear Kiddush.
6. The Challah should be covered during Kiddush..

Friday Night Kiddush

Va-ye-hi Erev Va-ye-hi Boker
Yom Ha-shi-shi. Va-y'chu-lu Ha-sha-ma-yim v'ha-a-retz, v'chawl ts'va-am. va-y'chal e-lo-him ba-yom ha-sh'vi-i, m'lach-to a-sher a-sa va-yish-bot ba-yom ha-sh'vi-i, mi-kawl m'lach-to a-sher a-sa. va-y'va-rech e-lo-him et yom ha-sh'vi-i, va-y'ka-deish o-to ki vo sha-vat mi-kawl m'lach-to a-sher ba-ra e-lo-him la-a-sot.

Sav-rei ma-ra-nan ve-ra-banan ve-ra-bo-tai!

Ba-ruch a-tah, A-do-nai, Eh-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam, bo-rei p'ri ha-ga-fen. (All present respond: Amen.)

Ba-ruch a-tah, A-do-nai, Eh-lo-hei-nu, me-lech ha-o-lam, a-sher ki-d'sha-nu b'mits-vo-tav v'ra-tsa va-nu, v'sha-bat kawd'sho b'a-ha-va uv'ra-tson hin-hi-la-nu, zi-ka-ron l'ma-a-sei v'rei-shit. ki hu yom t'chi-la l'mik-ra-ei ko-desh, ze-cher li-tsi-at Mits-ra-yim. Ki va-nu va-char-ta v'o-ta-nu ki-dash-ta mi-kawl ha-a-mim, v'Shabbat kawd-sh'cha b'a-ha-va u-v'ra-tson hin-chal-ta-nu. Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai, m'ka-deish ha-Shabbat. (All present respond: Amen.)

And there was evening and there was morning..
The sixth day. Thus the heavens and earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day G-d completed His work which He had done, and He abstained on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. G-d blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He abstained from all His work which G-d created to make.

By your leave, my masters, rabbis and teachers!

Blessed are You, HASHEM, our G-d, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine. (All present respond - Amen)

Blessed are You, HASHEM, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, took pleasure in us, and with love and favor gave us His holy Shabbat as a heritage, a remembrance of creation. For that day is the prologue to the holy convocations, a memorial of the Exodus from Egypt. For us did You choose and us did you sanctify from all the nations, and Your holy Shabbat, with love and favor did You give us as a heritage. Blessed are You, HASHEM, Who sanctifies the Shabbat. (All present respond - Amen)


The one reciting the Kiddush drinks at least three ounces, and then distributes the rest into smaller cups to those at the table.

Netilat Yadayim - Washing the Hands

Following Kiddush, everyone washes their hands in the prescribed ritual manner* to prepare for eating bread, and recites the appropriate bracha / blessing.
*(Fill a large cup that holds at least four and a half ounces with water and pour water on each hand front and back, starting with the right hand. Many people use special Handwashing Cups, which have two handles to them to make the pouring of the water easier).

Baruch A-tah A-do-nai, Eh-lo-hay-nu Me-lech Ha-olam, Asher Ki'-de-sha-nu B'-mitz-vo-tov, V' tzi-vanu al N'tee-lat Ya-da-yim.
Blessed are You, HASHEM our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us regarding washing the hands.
Once you make this bracha, you may not speak until you eat your first piece of Challah.


Before saying the bracha "Hamotzi" over the two Challot, the head of the household lightly draws the knife across the Challah making a slight indentation in the Challah to indicate the place for cutting, then raises the Challot to recite the bracha. At the end of the bracha, everyone responds "Amen."

Baruch A-tah A-do-nai, Ehlo-hay-nu Me-lech Ha-olam, Ha-motzi Leh-chem Min Ha-aretz. (All present respond - Amen)
Blessed are You, HASHEM our G-d, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth. (All present respond - Amen)

The head of the household cuts a piece of Challah for himself, and dips it in salt* and eats it so that there is no unnecessary lapse of time between the blessing and the act of eating. He then cuts and distributes the rest of the Challah to those around the table.
*(as a commemeration of the sacrifices which were salted when offered up on the Mizbayach / altar in the time of the Beit Hamikdash).

Enjoy the Friday night meal.

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Shabbat as a "special spice" for the Shabbat meals:

Shabbat 119a


Meal II



Shacharit Prayers

It is customary to begin the morning service on Shabbat later than on the weekdays. The reason for this custom is found in Bamidbar Parshat Pinchas. The morning service is in place of the morning sacrifice. When speaking about the daily morning sacrifice in this Parsha, the Torah uses the expression "in the morning" (28:4). But when mentioning the Shabbat sacrifice the expression is, "On the Shabbat day" (28:9) which implies a later time than morning.

The Shabbat Morning services usually take more time than the weekday morning services. Here's why.
1. The Sh'liach Tzibur (leader of the prayer service) takes his time singing the prayer melodies on Shabbat.
2. After Shacharit, we have Kriat HaTorah - Reading of the Parshat Hashavua, Torah portion of the Week.
3. After the Parsha is read we read the Haftorah - a selection chosen from Nevi'im / Prophets that usually relates to the Torah portion read that day.
4. Finally, we have the Musaf prayer - in commemoration of the Musaf (additional) sacrifices in the Beit HaMikdash.

The Shabbat Meals - Part II


The Shabbat noon day meal begins with Kiddush. The daytime Kiddush is of later origin, established by the Sages, and is of less prominence than the Kiddush of Friday night. It is also shorter - just one Bracha (blessing), which led the Talmud - (Tractate Pesachim 106a), in irony, to call it "Kiddusha Rabbah - Great Kiddush."

To add prominence to the morning Kiddush, there is a custom of including additional Torah verses. There are various customs as to which p'sukim [verses] are recited with the morning Kiddush. Some begin at "Al Kain Beirach - Therefore He Blessed" [which may be problematic because it begins in the middle of a verse (Shmot / Exodus 20:11)]. Some begin with "Im Tashiv - If you restrain..." (Yeshayahu / Isaiah 58:13-14). Others begin with the verse, "V'Shamru Vnei Yisrael et ha-shabbat, - The Children of Israel shall observe the Shabbat..." (Shmot / Exodus 31:16-17). Still others begin with "Zachor et Yom HaShabbat L'kadsho - Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." (Shmot / Exodus 20:8-11).

Many omit some or all of these verses and begin with 'Al kein bei-rach '


Im ta-shiv mi'Shabbat Rahg-leh-cha ah-sot cha-fah-tzecha b'yom kodshi v'ka-rata la-shabbat oh-neg lik-dohsh HASHEM m'chu-bawd v'chi-bah-deto me'asot d'rah-cheh-cha mim-tzo chef-tzecha v'dah-bair da-var. Az tit'ah-nag al-HASHEM v'hir-kav-ti-cha al-ba-ma-tei ah-retz v'ha'ah-chal-ti-cha nah-cha-lat Ya-ah-kov ah-vi-cha ki pi HASHEM dee-ber.


Ve-shamru v'nei Yisroel et ha-Shabbat, la'asot et ha-Shabbat le-doro'tam brit olam. Bei-ni u-vein b'nei Yisroel ot hi le-olam, ki shei-shet ya-mim ah-sah A-do-nai, et ha-sha-mayim ve-et ha-aretz uva-yom ha-shevi'i shavat va-yi-nafash.


Zachor et yom ha-Shabbat le-kade-sho. Shei-shet ya-mim ta'avod ve-asisa kol melachtecha. Ve-yom ha-shevi'i Shabbat LA-do-nai, Elo-hecha, lo ta'aseh chol melachah ata u-vin-cha u-vi-techa av-decha va-amat'cha uv-hem'techa ve-geir-cha asher bi-she'arecha. Ki sheishet ya-mim ah-sah A-do-nai et ha-sha-mayim ve-et ha-aretz et ha-yam ve-et kol ah-sher bam, va-ya-nach ba-yom ha-shevi'i -
Al kein bei-rach A-don-ai et yom ha-Shabbat va-ye-kad-shei-hu.


Sav-rei ma-ra-nan ve-ra-banan ve-ra-bo-tai!

Ba-ruch a-tah, A-do-nai, Eh-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam, bo-rei p'ri ha-ga-fen. (All present respond: Amen.)

Many omit some or all of these verses and begin with 'therefore HASHEM blessed.'


If you restrain, because of the Sabbath, your feet, refrain from accomplishing your own needs on My holy day; if you proclaim the Sabbath 'a delight,' the holy one of HASHEM, 'honored one, and you honor it by not doing your own ways, from seeking your needs or discussing the forbidden. Then you shall be granted pleasure with HASHEM and I shall mount you astride the heights of the world, and provide you the heritage of your forefather Jacob - for the mouth of HASHEM has spoken.' (Yeshayahu / Isaiah 58:13-14).


And the Children of Israel observed the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath for their generations an eternal covenant. Between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever, that in six days did HASHEM make the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.'
(Shmot / Exodus 31:16-17).


Always remember the Sabbath day to hallow it. For six days you may labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath for HASHEM, Your God; you may do no work - you, your son and your daughter, your slave and your maidservant, your animal, and the stranger who is in your gates. For in six days did HASHEM make the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them and He rested on the seventh day;
therefore HASHEM blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.
(Shmot / Exodus 20:8-11).


By your leave, my masters and teachers:

Blessed are You, HASHEM, our G-d, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine. (All present respond - Amen.)


The one reciting the Kiddush drinks at least three ounces, and then distributes the rest into smaller cups to those at the table.

Following Kiddush, everyone washes their hands in the prescribed ritual manner* to prepare for eating bread, and recites the appropriate bracha / blessing.

*See above for Some Laws of Kiddush. Netilat Yadayim, Hamotzi and Lechem Mishneh.

The noon day meal is highlighted by Cholent, a hearty dish usually composed of beans, barley, potatoes and meat. True to its etymological origins, the French words chaud (hot) and lent (slow), Cholent simmers all night and makes a hearty meal at Shabbat lunch. One of the reasons for Cholent is to remember the Manna which, in honor of Shabbat, remained fresh and delicious from Friday through Shabbat, so too the Cholent is placed on a Shabbat hot plate (blech) or slow cooker (crock pot) before Shabbat in order to stay hot and delicious for the Shabbat afternoon meal.

Divrei Torah (Torah Discussions)

Again, the Shabbat meal provides a great opportunity for family and friends to share Divrei Torah (Torah discussions).

Zemirot (Sabbath Songs)

For Shabbat Afternoon, some Zemirot which date from the date from as far back as the 10th Century have achieved prominence and are printed in most siddurs, composed by great Torah scholars and Kabbalists.

At the end of the meal, as required after every meal (not just on Shabbat), where bread is eaten, the Birchat Hamazon, Grace after Meals, is recited. We add two special prayers - "R'tzei V'Hachalitzeinu" & "Harachaman."

V'shinantom Levonecho -Torah Learning

One of the benefits of Shabbat is that it affords us the opportunity to learn Torah, and to share that learning with others. Shabbat is the appropriate time to devote to Torah study especially with the children.

Shabbat Walk

Shabbat afternoon is the perfect time for families to take a walk, visit and spend time with relatives and/or friends.


"Sheina B'Shabbat Taanug - Sleeping on Shabbat is regarded as a special pleasure - (from the Piyut 'Mah Yedidut') - also the acronym to the letters of Shabbat. (See Yalkut Ruveini, Va'etchanan).
Taking extra-long naps and super-extended beauty sleeps also discharge one of the duty to "rest."

We recite many blessings on Shabbat in order to complete the daily requirememnt of 100 brachot.

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The word Mincha means rest and at this point of the day, we are rested (hopefully), then the mood shifts to be more quiet and even a little pensive, acknowledging that the Shabbat is coming to an end.

Shabbat Mincha includes some opening prayers (beginning with Ashrei), a short Torah reading* with only three aliyot, followed by a recitation of the Amidah and the closing prayers. We concluded the weekly Torah reading on Shabbat morning, and now begin the new week's Torah reading at the Mincha service, so that there is a "changing of the guard" as far as the Parshat Hashavuah (weekly portion) is concerned.

[*Ezra established that three people be called to the Torah at every Shabbat Mincha service, to read at least ten verses from the Torah portion to be read during the coming week. This is so that people who work throughout the week, and do not hear the Torah reading of Mondays and Thursdays, will have an added opportunity on Shabbat to hear the Torah read. Even if a holiday falls on Shabbat, the portion for the coming week is read and NOT the portion that is read on the holiday. This is because there is no correlation between the Mincha Torah reading and the holiday - if it wouldn't be also Shabbat, they would not read from the Torah during Mincha at all. ]

Seudah Shlishit or the third meal, follows the Minchah (afternoon) service. Some may choose to eat this meal at home, but most synagogues serve a meal minimally consisting of bread rolls. This provides members with good conversation, (if not good food), another opportunity to listen to interesting Divrei Torah, and to sing more Shabbat zemirot. Mizmor L'David is traditional for this meal; some say/sing it three times. Y'did Nefesh is also a traditional Seudah Shlishit song.

As with the other 2 Shabbat meals, Lechem Mishneh is a requirement. After the meal, as required after every meal (not just on Shabbat), where bread is eaten, the Birchat Hamazon, Grace after Meals, is recited. We add two special prayers - "R'tzei V'Hachalitzeinu" & "Harachaman." Regardless of how far into the night one's Seudah Shlishit has been extended, "R'tzei" is recited unless one davened Maariv before bentching.

The Talmud says that the person who fulfills the obligation of eating three meals on Shabbat will merit a "good judgment" in the World to Come, for he has shown good judgment in not overeating during the first two Shabbat meals, so he could fulfill the mitzvah of eating a third meal, in honor of the holy day.

During the first two meals of the day we are actually hungry and eat with particular enjoyment. By the time of the third meal we may no longer be hungry, but we sit down to partake with song and rejoicing in order to fulfill Hashem's commandment that we eat at least three meals on Shabbat. It is not the food which draws us to the table, but the desire to carry out His precepts.

Women are obligated to eat Shalosh Seudot too. Women were equal beneficiaries of the miracle of the Manna, the source/reason for Shalosh Seudot (3 meals). (Mishna Berura).

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We conclude Shabbat with Havdalah. Its fragrant spices cheer us as our neshamah yetairah departs, and its candle burns brightly with the promise and potential of the week ahead.

(From A Taste of Judaism - From A to Z)

HAVDALAH (Heb: 'distinction or separation')
The Havdalah service, attributed to the men of the Great Assembly, (Talmud Berachot 33a), formally marks the end of Shabbat, affirming the distinction between the Sabbath and the other days of the week, between the sacred and the secular.

Havdalah should be performed no earlier than nightfall on Saturday night. Nightfall is the time when three stars can be seen in the sky. It is normally about 45 minutes to an hour after sundown, depending on your latitude. For the precise time when Shabbat ends in your area, consult the list of candle lighting times here or those provided by the Orthodox Union.

The Havdalah service uses wine, spices and candles. The wine for the Havdalah is allowed to flow over as a symbol of the overflowing blessing expected in the coming week.

The Havdalah service consists of four brachot:

The first blessing is over wine to mark the distinction between the sacred and the profane and the difference between the Shabbat and the weekdays.

The second is a blessing over spices. In a sense, this is the last blessing of Shabbat. This is the only place in Judaism when aromatics are used ritually. Abudraham writes that we receive a second soul (neshamah yetairah) on Shabbat, which gives a person heightened spiritual sensitivity. When Shabbat ends, this soul departs. Smelling the pleasant odor of fragrant spices eases the loss of the departing additional Shabbat soul. Smelling the spices also signifies the hope for a fragrant week. When a Yom Tov directly follows Shabbat the spices are omitted, because the soul then rejoices with the incoming festival. Any aromatic mixture may be used. A common Ashkenazic custom is to use cloves, bay leaves or other pickling spices. Sephardic communities use rosewater, myrtle, lemon or mint, and the precise wording of the Sephardic Havdalah depends on whether it comes from a tree, from an herb, or neither. The Zohar specifies myrtle. Spices are usually held in a spice box, and artists have created a marvelous variety of these.

The third blessing is over the light of the Havdalah candle flame, which is lit just before the service starts. The light signifies the hope for a week of brightness and joy. A twisted candle of several wicks is used, because the phrase "Meoray Ha'aish - the illuminations of the fire" is in the plural. (If such a candle is unavailable, two candles with flames touching may be used).

The Talmud (Pesachim 54a) gives the reason for the institution of this blessing. Fire was created at the end of Adam's first Shabbat on earth. Then, G-d gave Adam the instinctive understanding to rub stones together in order to bring forth a fire for light and heat. Midrash Rabbah (11:2) elaborates that HASHEM did so in response to Adam's fear when he saw darkness falling. He was terrified lest, having been banished from the Garden of Eden, he would be faced with mortal danger that he could not even see. Therefore, we recite the blessing over fire, because it was at the end of Shabbat that it was created.

As in the case of all such blessings, we do not recite a blessing over something that we do not use or enjoy, in this case, the illumination of the fire. Therefore, we cup the hands around the Havdalah candle as we hold our fingers up to the flame -- seeing the reflection of the flame on our fingernails, or the shadow on the palm of the hand, thus indicating the distinction "between light and darkness."

Lastly, there is a blessing of HASHEM, who makes distinctions, who separates the day of rest from the six days of work, who separates the holy from the ordinary. If a Yom Tov directly follows Shabbat the wording is changed slightly, since a Yom Tov is not "ordinary."

The custom of dipping the finger in the wine (plate) of the Havdalah and passing it over the eyes alludes to Tehillim / Psalms 19:9, where HASHEM's commands are described as "enlightening the eyes." It is customary in some communities to dip fingers in the wine and then to put them in one's pockets as well. These usages are not applicable whenever the Havdalah is recited as part of the Kiddush for Yom Tov.

In Talmudic literature, great importance is attached to Havdalah: future salvation as well as material blessings are promised to those who recite the Havdalah over the wine cup: "He who resides in Eretz Yisroel / Israel, he who teaches his children Torah, and he who recites the Havdalah at the conclusion of the Sabbath will enter Olam Haba (The World to Come) (Pesachim 113a).

(From A Taste of Judaism - From A to Z)

MELAVE MALKA (Lit. 'Accompanying the Queen').
On Saturday evening, after Shabbat, following Havdalah, a farewell banquet is prepared for a most important guest, the Shabbat Queen.
Just as one must honor Shabbat at its entry, so must one honor it at its departure. This is done by partaking of a post-Shabbat meal, called Melave Malka. This custom originated with David HaMelech (King David), who knew he was destined to die on Shabbat. After every Shabbat, he celebrated his survival with an elaborate feast. Some people begin their Melave Malka by lighting candles, in the hope that the spirit of Shabbat will linger in their homes all week.
Everyone is obligated to eat Melave Malka. Women, and children old enough to be trained in mitzvot, are also included in this obligation. It should be eaten at a nicely set table. It is also proper not to remove one's Shabbat clothes until after the Melave Malka.
The Seudat Melave Malka should preferably be eaten soon after Shabbat is over and before the end of four hours into the night. If one does not have an appetite for eating the meal right away, it would be proper not to do any work until after the Melave Malka, except for food preparation. It should not be delayed past Chatzot (midnight).
Ideally, one should eat bread and meat (or some other cooked food) like the other meals of Shabbat. If that is difficult for a person to eat, one should eat cake or some other mezonot, or at least some fruit. (There is an opinion that if one cannot even eat fruit, one may fulfill their obligation by drinking coffee or tea.)
Even if one is full from the Shabbat meals, one should push themselves to fulfill the Mitzvah of Seudat Melave Malka.
The Seudat Melave Malka is not necessary on Motzo'ei Yom Tov. However, some people are accustomed to eat this meal even on Motzo'ei Yom Tov. One may not eat meat for Melave Malka on Motzo'ei Shabbat Chazon.

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Some Sabbaths have a special name and special significance. Some of them have a special Maftir (additional Torah readings) read in the Synagogue after the regular Torah readings replacing the regular Shabbat Maftir readings, while others do not.
Shabbat Bereishit
The first Shabbat after Simchat Torah on which the Parsha of Bereishit is read.
Shabbat Chazon
(Lit. 'Shabbat of Vision');
The Shabbat before Tisha B'Av - the Ninth of Av, is called the 'Shabbat of Vision,' because of the Haftorah which is read from the first chapter of the Book of Yeshayahu / Isaiah: (1:1-27), which begins "Chazon Yeshayahu - (the vision of Yeshayahu...)". In it, he prophesies about the destruction of Yerushalayim and the Beit Hamikdash.
Shabbat HaChodesh
The Shabbat preceding Rosh Chodesh Nisan, or when Rosh Chodesh Nisan falls on Shabbat, the Shabbat of Rosh Chodesh Nisan, is called Shabbat HaChodesh. The Maftir, from Shmot / Exodus, Parshat Bo, (12:1-20), starts with the first Mitzva given to the Bnei Yisroel, while they were still in Mitzrayim, even before the Mitzvot of the Yom Tov Pesach (Passover festival) - the Mitzva of Kiddush Hachodesh (the sanctification of the new moon). The reading begins with the declaration that the Hebrew month of Nisan, and not Tishrei, is to be considered the first month of the year. The passage then continues with some of the mitzvot of Pesach / Passover, which are certainly appropriate to be read and studied as the holiday approaches.
Shabbat Hagadol
(Lit. 'the Great Shabbat');
The Shabbat preceding Pesach / Passover is called Shabbat HaGadol because it was the day when the Jews were to take the sheep (which the Egyptians worshipped) to be used for the Korban Pesach (Pascal offering) four days later. (This means that the first Pesach was on a Wednesday).
After nine plagues, the Egyptians were powerless to react to the slaughter of one of their gods. The Israelites, of course, didn't know this, and therefore displayed tremendous faith in Hashem prior to Yetziat Mitzrayim (the Exodus). We remember this event with a special Haftorah where again great faith and trust in Hashem is emphasized. The Haftorah concludes with the call to remember the teachings of Moshe and informs us that Hashem will send Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet) to herald the great and awesome day when Bnei Yisroel will again experience redemption. This is yet another possible reason for the name Shabbat HaGadol, - that "great day" mentioned in the Haftorah.
Traditionally on Shabbat HaGadol the Rabbi lectures about the observance and meaning of Pesach to his congregation, teaching the laws of Pesach, so that the families can prepare properly for the Yom Tov. Which leads to another interpretation of Shabbat HaGadol - "the Shabbat of the Leader" or of the Rabbi. A more novel explanation is that the people returning from the synagogue later than usual on this Shabbat because of the unusually long speech that was customary on this day. Thus this Shabbat seemed "great," i.e., longer than the other Shabbatot.
Whatever the reason for the name, it is customary to recite part of the Haggadah on Shabbat HaGadol, from 'Avadim Hayinu' "we were slaves in Egypt" to 'Lechaper Al Kol Avonoteinu.'
Shabbat Mevarchim
The Shabbat that precedes Rosh Chodesh, on which the coming new month is blessed with a special prayer. If Sunday is Rosh Chodesh, then the regular Shabbat Maftir readings is replaced with "Mochor Chodesh."
Shabbat Nachamu
The Shabbat of consolation or comfort, the Sabbath after Tisha B'Av - the Ninth of Av. The Shabbat is called Shabbat Nachamu, for the Haftorah which begins with the words: "Nachamu, Nachamu Ami - Be comforted, be comforted, my people..." (Yeshaya / Isaiah 40). In this chapter, the Navi describes the Ultimate Redemption (Moshiach) which we have yet to experience. May it be speedily in our days.
Shabbat Parah
The Shabbat immediately following Purim is designated as Shabbat Parshat Parah. The Maftir, from Bamidbar, Parshat Chukat, (19:1-22), describes the preparation of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer), whose ashes were used in the spiritual purification process during the time of the Beit Hamikdash. This purification was carried out at this time of the year to ensure that everyone would be able to partake in the Korban Pesach (Pascal Lamb) to be offered on the 14th day of Nisan.
Shabbat Shekalim
The Shabbat preceding Rosh Chodesh Adar (or Adar II in a leap year) is called Shabbat Parshat Shekalim. If Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat itself, then that Shabbat is Parshat Shekalim. The Maftir, from Shmot, Parshat Ki Sisa, (30:11-16), describes the census or counting of every Jew and the obligation to give a Half-Shekel terumah (contribution) during the month of Adar to pay for the public Korbanot (sacrifices) in the Beit Hamikdash in Yerushalayim.
Shabbat Shirah
Lit. Shabbat of Song;
The Shabbat on which Parshat Beshalach (Shmot / Exodus) is read is called Shabbat Shirah, because it contains the song, Az Yashir, (ibid 15:1-18), sung by the Bnei Yisroel after the splitting of the Red Sea.

Shabbat Shuvah
(Lit. 'Shabbat of Return';)
The Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuva because the Haftorah which is read on this Shabbat begins with the words Shuva Yisroel, (Repent O' Israel). Others call it Shabbat Teshuva (Repentance), as it falls in the Aseret Ymay Teshuva, (Ten Days of Repentance).
It is customary for the Rabbi of the Congregation to give a sermon on this Shabbat which includes the basic laws of Yom Kippur and Sukkot, and devoted to the theme of Teshuva and hopefully awaken and inspire people to correct their ways with Teshuva.
Shabbat Zachor
The Shabbat immediately preceding Purim is called Shabbat Zachor. The Maftir, from Devarim, Parshat Ki-Teitze, (25:17-19), deals with the commandment to "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way, upon your departure from Mitzrayim (Egypt).... ... how they perpetrated a cowardly and unprovoked attack... You shall erase the memory of Amalek from the heavens, you shall not forget."
This commandment, to remember Amalek, is one of the 613 commandments. It is incumbent, therefore, upon every person to attend services on Shabbat Zachor in order to hear this special reading and remember its message.
What is the connection between erasing the memory of Amalek and Purim? The wicked Haman, who intended to destroy all the Jews in one day and claim their spoils, was the descendant of Agag who was the king of Amalek in the time of King Shaul. Thus we know that Haman was an Amalekite. This is why our sages ordained carrying out the commandment of remembering to erase the memory of Amalek before Purim. Zachor means remember - "Remember... do not forget!"

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Aishet Chayil - "The Woman of Valour"-- Written by King Solomon. Traditionally sung Friday night, between "Shalom Aleichem" and the Blessing of the Children.

Aliyah - (pronounced: ah-lee-yah) To be "called up" to the Torah. Common usage: "I got an aliyah", or, "This is the last aliyah". (Also refers to the act of moving to Israel..."Our neighbors have decided to make aliyah").

Amidah - (also called Shmoneh Esrei)-- The silent prayer said at home or in shul. (see Shul)

Bentching - Yiddish, meaning "blessings". The Grace After Meals-- recited at the conclusion of the three meals, if one "washed" and ate bread. Common usage: "Let's bentch", or, "I already bentched", (see Birchat HaMazon).

Birchat HaMazon - Bentching See Above. Grace after meals.

Blech - The covering for your stove top, usually made of sheetmetal.

Bracha - Blessing. Common usage: "It's time for the children's bracha", or, "No rain on Shabbat is a real bracha".

Challah - Bread traditionally used on Shabbat, often braided. Can be white, whole-wheat, sweet, "water", or egg. Originally referred to the taking of a piece of dough....

Cholent - A Shabbat stew, consisting often of stew meat, potatoes, beans and barley, usually served for lunch Shabbat day, after shul.

Davening - Prayer service, or, praying. Common usage: "I'm late for davening", or, "The chazzan davened nice". Daven - to Pray.

D'var Torah - "A Word of Torah" (sometimes called a "vort", Yiddish for a "word"). A short talk or discussion at the Shabbat table, usually centred around the Torah Portion of the Week. Common usage: "Shhh... He's giving a D'var Torah", or, "Do you have a vort?"

Erev - Eve. Common usage: "I'll drop the flowers off at our hosts erev Shabbat" - as in the hours just before Shabbat.

"Good Shabbos" - Traditional Shabbat salutation, said upon meeting or departing. Can be said as early as Thursday, meaning, "Hope you have a 'Good Shabbat'". See also, "Shabbat Shalom".
Note: "Good Shabbos" is really from the Yiddish, "Gut Shabbos", and uses the Ashkenazi pronunciation, with the "s" sound at the end of Shabbos. "Shabbat Shalom" is hebrew, using the Sephardi pronunciation, with the "t" sound at the end of "Shabbat".

"Gut Vuch" - (Yiddish) Meaning "Good Week". Said to one another at the end of Shabbat. See also "Shavuah Tov".

Hamotzi - The blessing over the bread.

Havdalah - The short ceremony done at home that concludes the Shabbat. Performed with a a cup of wine, a multi-wicked braided candle, and besomim - sweet smelling spices.

Kiddush - The blessing that sanctifies Shabbat. Blessing over the wine at the first meal (Friday Night), in Shul Shabbat after Mussaf, and/or at home at the second meal (Shabbat lunch). Friday night's Kiddush recalls Hashem's resting on Shabbat, and the Jewish people's status as free individuals who are able to observe this day of rest.

Kippah - (Yiddish, "Yarmulka")... headcovering for a Jewish male.

Lechem Mishneh - "Two Breads"-- the two challahs used for Hamotzie (see above).

Maariv - The evening prayer service, said after sundown daily.

Manna - The food Hashem provided the Jews during the years in the desert after they were redeemed from Egypt, which tasted like whatever food they wanted. They were provided with two portions on Friday so they wouldn't have to gather it on Shabbat.

Matzoh - Unleavened bread, resembles large crackers.

Mayim Achronim - Literally, "After Waters"-- the washing of one's fingertips at the conclusion of the meal, so as to have clean hands for bentching (see above).

Mazel Tov! - Congratulations! Literally, "Good Luck!" Common usage: "Mazel Tov to the _____s on the recent birth of their baby daughter."

Melava Malkah - Celebration Saturday night after Shabbat.

Minchah - The afternoon prayer service.

Minyan - A quorum of ten adult males needed for prayer. Usage: "We need a minyan", or, "I'm going to minyan," meaning, "I'm going to shul".

Motzei Shabbat - Saturday night, after Shabbat is over.

Muktzah - (Lit. 'set apart.') An object forbidden to be used or carried on the Shabbat and Festivals because of its not being fit or meant for use on that day. (eg., money, pens, etc...). One must avoid doing anything on Shabbat that could lead to work - i.e. carrying money. As a result, anything that can be used, money, a hammer, etc., also cannot be handled. These items are referred to as "Muktza."

Musaf - A late morning service recited on Shabbat, on Holidays, and on Rosh Chodesh (the first day(s) of the new month).

Parsha - Torah Portion of the Week.

Sefer - A book containing words of Torah.

Sefer Torah - The hand-written scroll containing the Five Books of Moses.

Seuda Shlishit - The Third Meal of Shabbat, eaten late Saturday afternoon. (Also called Shalosh Seudos)

Shabbat - Sephardic pronunciation of the Jewish Sabbath, also called Shabbos. See Shabbos.

Shabbat Shalom - Shabbat greeting, meaning a "Peaceful Sabbath" (see also "Good Shabbos").

Shabbos - Ashkenazic pronunciation of the Jewish Sabbath, also called Shabbat. See Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom - A greeting given on Shabbat, meaning - [may you have] the peace of the Shabbat. Alternatively, Gut Shabbos in Ashkenazic or Yiddish.

Shabbaton Pl. Shabbatonim

1. The singular term 'Shabbaton', is used in the Torah to describe the Yomim Tovim.
2. Modern day usage (s. & pl.) refers to a special Shabbat program of study and celebration.

Shacharit - The morning prayer service.

Shalom Aleichem - First song at the Friday night meal, welcoming the visiting "angels." Also a greeting, meaning "Peace Be With You"...answered with "Aleichem Shalom,"- "And With You, Peace".

Shalosh Seudot - The third meal of Shabbat in the late afternoon. (Also called Seudah Shlishit)

"Shavuah Tov" - Literally, "Good week"...said to one another at the end of Shabbat. (Also see "Gut Vuch")

Shir Hamalot - The psalm sung before bentching.

"Shkoyach" - A mashed together version of "Yasher Koach", (literally, "May Your Strength be Straightened"), but more effectively translated loosely as "Way to Go", or "More Power to Ya'" Often said at the conclusion of the D'var Torah (see above) by those listening.

Shul - Synagogue-- house of prayer.

Siddur - Book containing formal prayer service.

Siyum - A party held in celebration of the completion of something (eg/ learning an entire book of the Torah).

Synagogue - (see Shul)

Tallit - Prayer shawl.

Torah - Five Books of Moses. (also see Sefer Torah)

"Washing" - "We're washing", "Let's Wash", or, "Did you wash for bread?"-- meaning the ritual cleansing of hands before the blessing over bread. Usually performed with a two-handled washing cup, pouring water over each hand, followed by a blessing.

Yarmulka - (see Kippah)

Zmirot-- Shabbat songs. (see Zemirot )


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