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Jewish Holidays

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The Origin Of Shabbat

The Origin Of ShabbatWhen we celebrate Shabbat as a day of rest, we commemorate God‘s creation. ‘‘.... It was evening and it was morning, the sixth day. And the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their host. And G-d completed on the seventh day His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. ‘‘And G-d blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because in it he rested from all his work which G-d had created, to make...‘‘ (Genesis 1:31-2:3) Shabbat is the only commandment among the Ten Commandments dealing with a holy day. During the 6first six days of the week we work creating, building, destroying and maintaining. On the seventh day, the Shabbat, we acknowledge that we do not own our world. Our world is G-d’s domain and we thank G-d for it. Shabbat includes many rites and traditions that some of them will be related hereunder.

Lighting The Candles

Lighting The Candles ritualWe have been told that since the matriarch Sarah has ushered the holiness of Shabbat by illuminating her tent with Friday night lights every Jewish is expected to do the same. When looking for a meaningful Jewish symbol, the lighting of the Shabbat candles comes to mind. We picture a Jewish mother lighting the candles as the traditional beginning of the Shabbat. Just before sunset on Friday nights and on the nights preceding festival days Jewish women light two candles for the two important Biblical references to Shabbat: ‘‘Remember the Sabbath‘‘ (Exodus 20:8) and ‘‘Observe the Sabbath‘‘ (Deuteronomy 5:12). However, many people light an additional candle for each child in the family, and others light seven candles for each day of the week. The candles are lit by the woman of the household. Everyone in the household, over the age of bar or bat mitzvah is obligated to light Shabbat candles yet there is a custom that all girls in the household over three years light their own Shabbat candles as well. After lighting, she waves her hands over the candles, welcoming in the Sabbath. Then she covers her eyes with her hands, so as not to see the candles before reciting the blessing, and recites the blessing below. After the blessing, some women add a silent prayer for the family. The hands are then removed from the eyes, and she looks at the candles, completing the mitzvah of lighting the candles. Although the obligation to light candles is an obligation for the entire household, the actual lighting of the candles is given to the woman. It is her special mitzvah to bring peace and joy into her house. Therefore if the husband desires to light the candles, he must ask permission from his wife. The only exception to this rule is the custom for the first Shabbat after the wife gives birth, for husband to light the candles for his wife.

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Shabbat Candle Blessing

Shabbat Candle BlessingHere the blessing on the candles: Barukh atah Adonai E1oheinu, melekh ha‘olam, asher kid‘shanu b‘mitzvotav v‘tzivanu l‘hadlik ner shel Shabbat. Blessed are Thou, the Eternal, Our God, King of the Universe, who hath sanctified us with His commandments, and charged us to light the Shabbat Candles. May it be Your will, Hashem, my God and God of my forefathers, that You show favor to me (my husband, my sons, my daughters, my father, my mother) and all my relatives; and that You grant us and all Israel a good and long life; that You remember us with a beneficent memory & blessing; that You consider us with consideration &compassion; that You make our households complete; that You cause Your presence to dwell among us. Privilege me to raise children and grandchildren who are wise and understanding, who love Hashem and fear God, people of truth, holy offspring, attached to Hashem, who will illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and with every labor in the service of the Creator. Please hear my supplication at this time, in the merit of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, our mothers, and cause our light to illuminate and let Your countenance shine so that we are saved. Amen. Shabbat Shalom – Have a good Shabbos

Kabalat Shabat

Kabalat Shabbat is a meaningful ceremony. All week long we are running around our daily tasks and await the Shabbat. Now just a little bit before Shabbat starts a ceremony takes place to welcome it. Kabalat Shabbat and Ma'ariv should be attended in the synagogue or performed in the home after candle lighting and before dinner on the evening of the Shabbat. Kabalat Shabbat precedes the formal evening service, the Ma'ariv on Friday nights. Translated Kabbalat Shabbat means Welcoming the Sabbath and comprises of several Psalms and the Lecha Dodi, a popular liturgical poem from the 16th century. Come my Beloved to greet the bride, the Sabbath presence let us welcome! The Lecha Dodi was written by Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz and is the highlight of the Friday night prayers. It is a mystical hymn describing how we prepare for and greet the Shabbat; its refrain: Come, my Beloved, to meet the Bride; let us welcome the Shabbat


Zmirot ShabbatZemirot the plural of Zemer- Song - are hymns sung by Jews during the evening meal on Friday and the afternoon meal on Saturday or the holydays, Yamim Tovim. Most of the hymns speak of the gift of the Sabbath as the greatest religious treasure of Israel, and of the spiritual reward to those who faithfully observe the holy day. The words to many zemirot are taken from poems written by various rabbis and sages during the Middle Ages. Others are anonymous that have been passed down from generation to generation. Here two examples: Shalom Aleichem: The family or community, at the table, sing Shalom Aleichem - Peace Be unto You. This is a welcoming and an offer of hospitality to the angels who accompany us and the Bride as the Shabbat Queen.

Eshet Chayil

Eshet Chayil traditionThe Eshet Chayil is a twenty-two verse poem with which King Solomon concludes the book of Proverbs 31: 10-31. The poem has an acrostic arrangement in which the verses begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in regular order and describes the woman of valor as one who is energetic, righteous, and capable. Allegedly the poem was originally composed by Abraham as a eulogy for his wife Sarah while according to the Kabbala; the poem is a reference to the Shabbat Queen that is the spiritual soul-mate of the Jewish nation. Judaic Artists illustrated the Eshet Chail Poem each artist and his or her special talents and style. TO SEE ONE OF THE EXQUISITE SAMPLES OF ESHET CHAYIL ART, PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK.

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Eshet Chayil Translation

Here the Eshet Chayil translation. A woman of valor, who can find? Far beyond pearls is her value. Her husband‘s heart trusts in her and he shall lack no fortune. She repays his good, but never his harm, all the days of her life. She seeks out wool and linen, and her hands work willingly. She is like a merchant‘s ships; from afar she brings her sustenance. She rises while it is still nighttime, and gives food to her household and a ration to her maids. She considers a field and buys it; from the fruit of her handiwork she plants a vineyard. She girds her loins with might and strengthens her arms. She senses that her enterprise is good, so her lamp is not extinguished at night. She puts her hand to the distaff, and her palms support the spindle. She spreads out her palm to the poor and extends her hands to the destitute. She fears not snow for her household, for her entire household is clothed with scarlet wool. Bedspreads she makes herself; linen and purple wool are her clothing. Well-known at the gates is her husband as he sits with the elders of the land. Garments she makes and sells, and she delivers a belt to the peddler. Strength and splendor are her clothing, and smilingly she awaits her last day. She opens her mouth with Wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She anticipates the needs of her household and the bread of idleness, she does not eat Her children rise and celebrate her; and her husband, he praises her: Many daughters have attained valor, but you have surpassed them all. False is grace, and vain is beauty; a G-d-fearing woman, she should be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and she will be praised at the gates by her very own deeds.


Kiddush ritualThe word Kiddush means Sanctification. Kiddush refers to the ritual of sanctification, with blessings recited over a cup of wine that is performed at the beginning of Sabbath on Friday eve and Shabbat morning and at festive meals on the Jewish holidays. The purpose of the Kiddush is to remind Jews of the sanctity of the day as we were told; Zachor at Yom HaShabbat LeKadesho -Remember the Day of Shabbat to keep it Holy. Exodus 20:8. After returning home from Synagogue on Friday, Shabbat and the holidays everyone stands around the set table as the head of the household cradles a full cup of wine and recites the Shabbat Kiddush, or Sanctification Prayer. Any kind of glass or cup can be used for the Kiddush. However for the purpose of Hidur Mitzvah, the principle of enhancing a mitzvah through aesthetics we try to find a special goblet that will only be used for the purpose of the Kiddush. We have collected for you a great number of beautiful Kiddush cups that you may choose as gifts for friends and family or for you. We have also some lovely Kiddush cups that will add to the joy of a wedding when Bride and Groom have their first sip of wine, or special cups for a bar and Bat Mitzvah.


HamotzieHamotzi is the Blessing over the Bread. Hamotzie has to be recited even when alone but is also held at banquets like Bar Mitzvah parties, or at the Kiddush in synagogue before dinner. At each Shabbat meal, when we place two whole loaves of bread on the table. We bless Hamotzie with the Challah cover draped over the loaves, and remember the wonder and freshness that the Mannah and morning dew represents. Read more about the Challah cover by scrolling down. The Hamotzie blessing is; Baruch ata ad-onay, elo-heinu melech haolam Hamotzie lechem min ha‘aretz, and translated; Blessed are you G-D, our Lord King of the world Who brings forth bread from the ground. The head of the household than cuts a piece of Challah for himself, and then either dips it in salt or sprinkles salt over the slice and than serves every one of the participants each a piece of salted Challah. Salting the Challah was instituted because the table resembles and altar and our food, a sacrifice hence we are commanded: On all your sacrifices, offer salt Leviticus 2:13. TO SEE ONE OF OUR CHALLAH COVERS, PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK.

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Seuda Shelishit

Enjoying Shabbat , Oneg Shabbat, means engaging in pleasurable activities such singing, spending time with the family and marital relations. Eating is one more way to enjoy the Shabbat thus we are advised to have three meals on Shabbat. This is the time when families can sit leisurely together bond relax and be inspired. The enjoying of the three meals is reflected in How friendly is your rest,one of the Zemirot: From the eve before we order all sorts of tasty foods. In the day before we prepare fattened chickens and arrange some herbs, seasoned wine drinks and delightful delicacies. In all three times.


Havdalah ritualHavdalah may be recited as soon as three stars are visible in the night sky. Havdalah is intended to require a person to use all five senses. Taste the wine, smell the spices, see the flame of the candle and feel its heat, and hear the blessings. The rite of Havdalah employs three important objects: A cup of wine symbolizes the wish for a sweet week to come. A spice box filled with aromatics such as clove and cinnamon gives off sweet aromas to comfort spirits that are saddened at the departure of the Sabbath. A candle with two or more wicks burning as a single flame is the third element. AS the blessing we recite on the candle is addressed to “He who creates the illuminations of fire.” we, light multiple sources of illumination. Some Havdalah candles contain 6 -12- even 21 wicks. The Havdalah candle is usually held by hand. Sometimes the candle stands in a special wide-mouthed candlestick. To conclude the ceremony, celebrants extinguish the flame in the wine. A plate inscribed with the closing benediction into which wine is poured and then the candle snuffed - is yet a fourth item common to Havdalah. After reciting the Havdalah We wish Shavoa Tov; A good week. TO SEE ONE OF OUR HAVDALLAH SETS, PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK.

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ChallahIn Hebrew there are two words for bread: Lechem and Challah. While Lechem is the everyday bread Challah is the special one reserved for the Sabbath and holidays. According to Jewish tradition, Sabbath and holiday meals begin with a blessing over two loaves of bread called Challah. This lechem mishneh, double loaf in Hebrew, commemorates the Manna that fell from the heavens when the People of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt to Canaan. Manna could be found every morning. The manna did not fall on the Sabbath or holidays; instead, a double portion fell before the Sabbath and holidays. When Challah dough is kneaded it is a Mitzvah to separate part of the dough and to give it to the priest. Today the custom of separating Challah is a symbolic act when Jewish women knead homemade dough and then separate a piece of the dough and burn it This mitzvah is based on Numbers 15:18-21, which states, ''…when you come into the land that I will bring you, when you eat from the bread of the land, you shall set aside a portion to G-d. From the first of your dough, Challah is set apart as a gift like that which is separated in the threshing, so also with this. From the first of your dough, give a portion to G-d for all of the generations.'' The moment of separating Challah is an especially propitious moment for praying for family and loved ones. One may also offer a personal prayer in their personal wording instead Challah usually is braided in threes, but it may be served round as is the custom on Rosh Hashanah.

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Challah Cover Origin

Why Challah CoverWhile its appearance adds a decorative and ceremonial aspect to the set table, its presence serves both a halachaic and symbolic function. At the beginning of a Shabbat or holiday meal, a blessing must first be made over the wine – the Kiddush. This is followed by the blessing over the bread which begins the meal. We are told that in order to preserve the priority of the wine, and not to shame the bread the bread is covered and concealed from view with the challah cover. For generation artist decorated lovely Challah covers with symbolic and decorative thems. Sometimes wording were embroidered on the challah napkin like: Lichvod Shabbat ve Yom Tov, in honor of Sabbath and holidays. Today you can purchase such Challah covers made of silk, velvet, or cotton by many Israeli artists. The Challah cover shown here is by Israeli artist Yair Emanuel.

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