Jewish Living: Sabbath

The word Sabbath derives from the Hebrew Shabbat which means to cease or stop. It was derived first in the Biblical entries of Genesis, telling the story of the seven days of Creation. Sabbath is observed as the seventh day of the week, on which we are required to rest, in remembrance of the creation of the universe by God in six days, and then rested on the seventh day.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3)

Sabbath is also recognized as part of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses in Mount Sinai (also called Mount Horeb). It is the fourth commandment base on the Jewish and protestant traditions and third in Roman Catholic traditions. It commemorates the redemption of the Israelites’ from slavery in ancient Egypt; it also symbolizes the recognition of the Israelites as the chosen people, and a sign of covenant between God and his people for generations to come.

And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: ‘Verily ye shall keep My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, which ye may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore, for it is holy unto you; every one that profaneth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD; whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested.’ (Exodus31:12-17)”

Jewish tradition observed Sabbath specifically on Friday from sundown, and until three stars is visible in the sky on the eve of Saturday. The exact times, therefore, may differ from week to week and from place to place, depending on the time of sunset at each location. Traditionally, Shabbat candles are lit by Jewish women, usually the mother or wife of the household, on Friday evening, minutes before sundown to welcome Sabbath, although in the absence of a woman, single men living alone are required to light the candle themselves. Traditionally, two candles should be lit, although some families light more, depending on the number of children they have. After lighting the candles, the woman waves her hands over them, covers their eyes, and recites a blessing.

“Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the Shabbat candles.”

Activities Prohibited on Sabbath:

·            Sowing

·            Plowing

·            Reaping

·            Binding sheaves

·            Threshing

·            Winnowing

·            Selecting

·            Grinding

·            Sifting

·            Baking

·            Shearing wool

·            Washing wool

·            Beating wool

·            Dyeing wool

·            Spinning

·            Weaving

·            Making two loops

·            Weaving two threads

·            Separating two threads

·            Tying

·            Untying

·            Sewing two stitches

·            Tearing

·            Trapping

·            Slaughtering

·            Flaying

·            Salting meat

·            Curing hide

·            Scraping hide

·            Cutting hide up

·            Writing two letters

·            Erasing two letters

·            Building

·            Tearing a building down

·            Extinguishing a fire

·            Kindling a fire

·            Hitting with a hammer

·            Taking an object from the private domain to the public, or transporting an object in the public domain.

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