THE SHABBATH IS A HEBREW WORD FOR REST OR TO CEASE. The
shabbath is the Jewish day of rest and seventh day of the week, on which religious Jews
remember the Biblical creation of the heavens and the earth in six days and the Exodus of the
Hebrews, and look forward to a future Messianic Age. Shabbath observance entails refraining
from work activities, often with great rigor, and engaging in restful activities to honor the day.
You will be giving the choice and chance to break up into smaller groups and if times are
willing, even get to enjoy a Shabbat eve with a family or a rabbi, the lighting of the Shabbath
candle and prayers in Hebrew as well.
According to halakha, 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 morning, and late in the afternoon. The evening dinner typically
begins with 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.
The main meal of the week in Jewish households in Israel and around the world is the Friday
night dinner, Aruchat Shabbat (ah-roo-chaht shah-baht). The meal begins after sundown.
Because Aruchat Shabbat is the focal point of the week, families often set the table with a
Mapah Levanah (mah-pah leh-vah-nah; white tablecloth) and their prettiest dishes. Atop the
table sits the Kos L'Kiddush (kos leh-kee-doosh; Kiddush cup), which is held when the blessing
angels and follow it with Brachot (brah-choht; blessings) over the Yayin (yah-yeen; wine) and
Lechem (leh-chehm bread).
In some traditional households, people ritually wash their hands — this act is called Netilat
Yadaim (neh-tee-laht yah-dye-eem) — before consuming bread. Traditionally Sabbath dinner
foods include Of (ohf; chicken), Tzimis (tzi-mehs; a stew made with carrots), and sometimes
Basar (bah-sahr; red meat). Eating Dag (dahg; fish) on Shabbat is also a traditional practice.
One of the reasons for this custom is connected to the Gematria (geh-mah-tree-ah;
numerology) of the fish. In Gematria, each Hebrew letter is assigned a numerical value. And the
numerical values of the letters in the Hebrew word for fish total seven. And Shabbat is the
seventh day of the week!