Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath)
The most important of all Jewish holidays is the Sabbath. In Judaism, it is observed as the seventh day of the week and a day of rest (no deliberate work). The Sabbath begins on Friday at sundown and continues until Sundown on Saturday. In Judaism, the origins of this day is found in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) book of B’reshit describing God creating the heavens and the earth in six days, and resting on and sanctifying the seventh. In addition to this belief, the special status of Shabbat as a holy day is found in B’reshit 2:3 of the Tanakh: “And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made.” Through the course of this essay, we will explore and identify events and rituals traditionally celebrated/observed during this holiday.
Shabbat is a day of celebration as well as one of prayer. God commands the Jews to remember and observe the Sabbath. These two actions are symbilized by two Shabbat candles that are lit late afternoon on Friday. It is customary to eat three festive meals on Shabbat. These include dinner on Shabbat eve, lunch on Shabbat, and another meal before the conclusion of Shabbat later in the afternoon. Many Jews attend synagogue services on Shabbat even if they do not do so during the week. Services are held on Shabbat eve and Shabbat morning. Upon returning home from synagogue, a special hymn called Shalom Aleikhem (Peace Unto You) is sung. According to legend, two angels (one bad and one good) accompany each Jew home from the synagogue, blessing or cursing his table depending upon whether he honors or dishonors the Sabbath. Meals begin with a blessing over two loaves of bread, usually a braided challah, which is symbolic of the double portion of manna God gave the Jewish people on Sabbath during their time in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. Bread, in this blessing, is the symbol of all food. At the conclusion of the meal, Birkat...
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