6 May 2017

Shabbat ~ Sabbath ~ שַׁבָּת

Observing the closing havdalah ritual in 14th-century Spain. Author Unknown - Detail from a miniature in the Barcelona Haggadah, British Library Add MS 14761, fol. 26.  This work is in the public domain. BL Add MS 14761

The working week in Israel is from Sunday until Thursday.  Friday and Saturday are the weekend.  As an expatriate living here initially it took a little while to get used to this but it's amazing how quickly one adapts and accepts the way of life in a new country.  

 In Israel, as well as adapting to a different working week we were introduced to the concept of Shabbat which begins at sunset on Friday evening and lasts until sunset on Saturday evening.  The word Shabbat means rest or cessation in Hebrew.  In Judaism, it is the seventh day of the week and a day of rest "Shabbat observance entails refraining from work and work activites, oftern with great rigor, and engaging in restful activities to honor the day.  According to halakha (Jewish religious law), Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night  Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles and reciting a blessing. Traditionally, three festive meals are eaten: in the evening, in the early afternoon, and late in the afternoon. The evening meal typically begins with a blessing called kiddush and another blessing recited over two loaves of challah. Shabbat is closed the following evening with a havdalah blessing. Shabbat is a festive day when Jews exercise their freedom from the regular labors of everyday life. It offers an opportunity to contemplate the spiritual aspects of life and to spend time with family.

Shabbat is much more than a day of cessation from work.  There are strict guidelines as to what people of the Jewish faith can and cannot do on this day and there is also a list of 39 categories of prohibited activities known as מְלָאכָה melakha.  I would suggest that those people who are interested in learning more about Judaism and Shabbat ought to read the link below and also carry out their own research on the internet.

From Thursday onwards, it is customary to wish people "Shabbat Shalom" which literally means have a peaceful Sabbath.
שבת שלום ~ Shabbat Shalom 

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