In our household, Erev Shabbat (the Eve of the Sabbath) is my favorite night of the week. We usually spend the evening at home with family, and I like to cook a special meal for us to share. I always serve comfort food– no counting calories. It’s a time for togetherness, when you can sit back, tune out the noise of the world, and appreciate all the gifts that God has given you.
Shabbat (pronounced Shuh-baht) is the holiest day of the Jewish week. It starts at sundown on Friday and ends at nightfall on Saturday, when the first three stars appear in the night sky. Shabbat is the Hebrew word for what most English speakers refer to as the “Sabbath.” It is a sacred day of rest and reflection.
In the Book of Genesis, it says that God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day He rested. Shabbat is celebrated in honor of God’s creation, and its observance is actually mandated in the Ten Commandments. It’s considered the holiest day of the year, above all other holidays. Even Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is known as “The Sabbath of Sabbaths.”
Most modern Jews celebrate Shabbat casually with a family dinner on Friday night. You light candles, say a blessing, drink wine, say another blessing, and then break bread with your family—a special kind of bread called challah. Challah is a traditional loaf of egg bread, twisted in two intertwining braids, which is symbolic of the double portion of manna God gave the Jews after their exodus from Egypt. Many Jews also celebrate on Saturday afternoon, with a family meal after the synagogue service.
Even if you don’t observe the religious aspect of Shabbat, I think it’s a great idea to spend one day a week in gratitude, rest and reflection. Don’t you?