Monday, September 1, 2008

SPIRITUALITY & MISSION // The Jewish Sabbath

By way of information a typical Jewish Sabbath looks something like this:

Mid-afternoon on Friday observant Jews leave work to begin Sabbath preparations. Everything that is not done during Sabbath is readied and Sabbath begins at sunset. Sabbath candles are lit after a blessing is recited several minutes before sunset. The family then attends a brief evening service.

After service, the family returns for a leisurely, festive dinner. Before dinner, the man of the house recites Kiddush, a prayer over wine sanctifying Sabbath. The usual prayer for eating bread is recited over two loaves of challah and the family then eats dinner. After dinner, the birkat ha-mazon (grace after meals) is recited.

The next morning Sabbath services last from nine to noon. The family says Kiddush again and has another leisurely, festive meal. A typical afternoon meal is cholent, a very slowly cooked stew. Once birkat ha-mazon is done, the family studies Torah for a while, talks or does some other leisure activity. A third meal is required before the Sabbath is over.

Sabbath ends at nightfall, when three stars are visible, approximately 40 minutes after sunset. At the conclusion of Sabbath, the family performs a concluding ritual called Havdalah (separation, division). Blessings are recited over wine, spices and candles. Then a blessing is recited regarding the division between the sacred and the secular.

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