Why do we keep shabbat and what’s the benefit?
shabbat has several things going for it.
1) shabbat is “zecher maaseh bereshit”. Shabbat’s energy links us to creation itself, with all its possibilities and its total separation from current events.
2) shabbat is “zecher yetziat mitzrayim” Gd chose us and separated us the same way shabbat was chosen and separated from the week. Gd took us out from slavery and gave us a day of rest, not only from work itself, but from all creative process, meaning not only can our bodies rest, but our souls can rest as well.
3) shabbat is “me’ein olam haba”. In mashiach age every day will be shabbat, we will have no worries, and be able to learn Torah and contemplate HKB”H’s kindness and awesomeness. When we connect with shabbat, we’re also connecting with what’s to come.
4) “ki eshmera shabbat” shabbat because it’s separate from the week, when observed fully, means that you are essentially not participating in the rest of the world. Even if you’re not fully keeping shabbat, this protection is there when you’re trying to connect.
What is shmirat shabbat?
There are two aspects to shmirat shabbat, shamor, and zachor. Shamor refers to not breaking shabbat, zachor refers to positive commandments that make shabbat special.
How can I tap into shabbat?
We’re going to focus mostly on zachor. If you absolutely need to work throughout the day, you can schedule these things around that, but the best thing is to stay home or be with family or friends or at synagogue. If three bread meals is more than you’re used to, you can snack for the third meal, but don’t eat anything after sunset until you have made havdalah.
This isn’t the minimum, but if you’re able to do all these things, your experience will be more meaningful 🙂
-shower, wash your face, and dress in nice clothing. Set your table with bread and salatim and have your wine and kiddush cup ready.
- light shabbat candles 18m before halachic sunset (they should optimally be able to burn at least an hour, and the longer the better). When you are lighting, the best way to light is to say the beracha and then light. Don’t shake out the match, just place it down and let it burn out. You can then cover your eyes and talk to Hashem with gratitude about your week, any prayers you have for the world, any prayers you have for your loved ones, any prayers you have for yourself, and what you hope to accomplish or what you’re looking forward to on shabbat. After, you can look at the candles a few minutes and contemplate what shabbat is for you, your connection with Hashem, your connection with Am Yisrael and the world.
-if you don’t feel comfortable davening kabbalat shabbat, you can sing a couple shabbat songs to welcome shabbat into your home and heart
-if you didn’t already, sing shalom aleichem and eshet chayil
20m after sunset, make kiddush. You should have at least 112mL of wine or grape juice, optimally with three drops of water. Make the berachot while standing holding the cup in your right hand, and sit to drink. If you are not having a bread meal right away, pour a second cup of at least 112mL, add 3 drops of water, and drink that. You should say the after beracha for wine or grape juice if you do this.
if you have kids, give them a beracha. If you don’t know the formal beracha, just bless them that they should be happy and healthy and proud to be Jewish
have a bread meal with delicious food, if you can have fish, have fish. Before the bread meal, wash netilat yadayim, say hamotzi, and if you can say birkat hamazon afterward, do that- there is a shorter version that you can say if you aren’t up to the full thing.
if you have a family, spend time together during and after the meal, optimally no devices, and not talking about politics or work or things that can be stressful
if you are on your own, sing some shabbat songs
read the weekly parasha in your native language, and think of some questions you have about it, if you’re with family or friends you can discuss them
make kiddush the next morning as well- this can be on wine/grape juice or on an alcoholic beverage. If you don’t daven and aren’t going to synagogue, you should make kiddush before you eat anything. Have cookies or crackers right after. Have a bread meal again if you’re up to it, in the same manner as dinner (wash, motzi, and after birkat hamazon)
try to disconnect from devices for at least an hour in the day and spend the time relaxing
have a third bread meal sometime before sunset, sing some slow songs to wind down shabbat. If you have time and are up to it read the upcoming week’s parasha.
make havdalah at least 40m after sunset, and sing some havdalah songs, light 2-4 tea candles from the havdalah candle, have something to eat, and a hot beverage and talk to Hashem about your shabbat, any prayers you have for the world, your loved ones, yourself, etc for the upcoming week. If you’re unable to make havdalah until later but you need to eat or go out etc you can say “Baruch hamavdil ben kodesh lechol” 3 times (again, at least 40m after sunset)
(I don’t know why it decided to format it like this, sorry for disjointedness with the dashes and dots)
I will do a separate post for shamor.