How To Keep Shabbat?
(Please Note: This is just a small sample but there
are a lot more Halachot! Please consult with a Rabbi!)
Shabbat is a special day where the Jews are liberated from doing any labor.
Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles and reciting a blessing at Sundown. Three festive meals are then eaten: on Friday night, Saturday morning, and late Saturday afternoon. Friday night dinner begins with kiddush and a blessing is recited over two loaves of challah. Shabbat ends at nightfall on Saturday. A small ritual called Havdalah signals the end of Shabbat.
Why is it important to keep Shabbat? Shabbat is a G-d given commandment. It is listed fourth on the list of Ten Commandments. Hashem first commanded it after the Exodus from Egypt, in Exodus 16:26 and Exodus 20:8–11.
Our sages stated that whoever keeps Shabbat in accordance with its laws is viewed as though he has fulfilled the entire Torah, and whoever disregards Shabbat is like one who utterly refutes the whole Torah. Moreover, Jews keep Shabbat, but in reality the Shabbat keeps and protects the Jewish nation.
How should one prepare for Shabbat? One should prepare for Shabbat by bathing, having a haircut, and cleaning the home. It is typical to buy flowers in honor for Shabbat. The woman of the house cooks special delicious meals for Shabbat. On Shabbat itself it is customary to wear festive cloth and abstain from unpleasant and/or regular everyday conversation.
Friday night usually starts with candle lighting. Most men (and some women) go to shul (synagogue) before dinner for the services. Afterwards, it is customary to sing two songs to welcome the Shabbat angels into the house (Shalom Alechem ) and to give thanks to the woman of the house for all her work (Eshet Chayil). After blessings over the wine (Kiddush) and challah, a festive meal is served. It is coming to sing during the meal as well as to speak about the weekly parsha (the weekly Torah portion). After the meal, it is customary to bench, a Yiddish word (to read the Grace After Meals prayer).
Saturday includes going to shul, praying, resting and eating two festive meals. The second meal of Shabbat is served after lunch. The third meal (seudah shlishit) is served in the late afternoon.
At the conclusion of Shabbat, we perform another ritual called havdalah at the time when three starts appear in the night sky. There are three important elements needed during havdalah. They are: wine, havdalah candle and fragrant spices.
After havdalah there is another meal called the fourth meal (Melaveh Malka – Hebrew word). Although this meal is optional rather than a “requirement”, kabbalists attach a great significance to this meal. The fourth meal is connected to King David and the Messiah (Maschiach) and must take place before Jewish midnight. Melaveh Malka means to “escort the Shabbat queen”.
How to Prepare for Shabbat (in no special order):
• Kiddush cup
• Challah cover
• Fresh tablecloth
• Aromatic spice for havdalah
• Braided candle for havdalah
• Hot plate (or blech) to keep food warm
• Electric hot urn for tea and coffee
• Grape juice and/or wine for kiddush
• Timers (to set the lights)
• Prepare main course and side dishes in advance
• Bake or buy Challah (two loaves for every meal)
• Set AC or Heat
• Separate kosher dishes for meat and dairy
• Put tape on the refrigerator light
• Cover light switches (so you don’t accidentally flip them on)
• Clean the house in honor of Shabbat
• Prepare your best clothes in honor Shabbat
• Do not use or carry an umbrella on Shabbat
• Open any packages and wrappers prior to Shabbat
• If you open wrappers on Shabbat, be sure not to tear the words or pictures
• Set dining room table with a table cloth, candles and candlesticks, two whole loaves of challah placed on a tray and covered with a cloth, a Kiddush cup, wine for Kiddush, and fancy tableware
• Put away or cover muktzeh items so you don’t accidentally use them
• Have tissue ready instead of toilet paper
• Do not wash dishes on Shabbat using a sponge (Use a special synthetic pad with wide or large fibers).
• It is permitted to put dishes in a dishwasher during Shabbat but not to use the dishwasher until after Shabbat
• If you spill anything during Shabbat don’t wipe, just blot
• Do not use a sponge at all on Shabbat because you are not allowed to squeeze water
• Do not use a bar of soap on Shabbat, just liquid soap. Some poskim rule to add some water into the liquid soap prior to Shabbat to make it more fluid.
• Women: Apply makeup prior to Shabbat as it is forbidden to apply on Shabbat (Use special Shabbat make-up allowed within the laws of Shabbat)
• Do not use ointments (as that is considered smoothing), or spread cream or lotion on the face or body
• You are allowed to wash dishes that you may need for Shabbat.
• If you stain your clothes on Shabbat, do not pour water on the stain. Leave it. Same with carpet spills
• It is forbidden to eat before Kiddush. Don’t eat from the time of lighting candles to Kiddush
• It is forbidden to write, draw or delete letters and words
• It is forbidden to surf the Internet even if the computer was open prior to Shabbat
• It is forbidden to get a haircut, cut nails, or to tweeze eyebrows
• Not allowed to water plants
• Not allowed to drive
• Not allowed to braide the hair