SHABBAT – How to Begin to Celebrate?

1.  Join Others Who Already Celebrate Shabbat

2.  ‘Newbie’ to Shabbat  and on Your Own – Take Small Steps

3.  Three Central Shabbat Activities

4.  Challah Tips and Recipe

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1. Join Others Who Already Celebrate Shabbat

A question was once posed to Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, the great 18th Century Hassidic leader in Eastern Europe: “What if someone feels distant from God and Torah? How can he enter the ‘loop’ of spirituality which on one hand is so appealing, and on the other hand so intimidating?” Rebbe Nachman answered, “Go to a Shabbat table and sing a niggun [wordless melody]. Sing it with zest and verve, with feeling from deep in your soul. That’s the way to jump in!”

If possible find Jewish friends who already celebrate Shabbat and ask to join them or, if there is a Jewish synagogue and community in your area, approach the Rabbi and share that you would like to learn more about Shabbat and join in a Friday night (Erev Shabbat) family meal.

The Erev Shabbat meal experience offers the participation of all the senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste – and one echoes this delight with songs from the heart in praise of the One who is the Source and the reason for it all. This “jumping in” presupposes a warm gathering of friends and/or family in a well prepared and familiar Shabbat setting, including a meal complete with the singing of special Sabbath songs (called zemirot). If you don’t know the words, you can la,la,la or da, da, dai, dai along with everyone else!

Shabbat is a time to remember that our life is from Him, and in Him, and the desire of our hearts is to express our love and gratitude to Him. It is indeed a blessing if one is able to participate in a true, joyous and God- honoring Shabbat table gathering. However, if that is not possible, as a beloved child of God in Messiah Yeshua, you can create your own. All that you do, no matter how simple, in honor of the Lord and His Word will be blessed in return with the peace and beauty of His Presence, and you will enjoy the beauty and Shalom of the Sabbath as you rest in the Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace.

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2. ‘Newbie’ to Shabbat  and on Your Own – Take Small Steps

How does one approach the celebration of Shabbat if one is not familiar with it?  A dear student of the “A Taste of Torah” series sent me [Keren] a touching appeal, summarized here, which might reflect the situation of many who are being drawn to their Hebraic heritage but find themselves alone in their quest:

I would appreciate any suggestions you may have about keeping the Sabbath. No one [in my family or fellow congregants] seems to have caught my enthusiasm for learning about the Jewish roots of our faith. From reading with you through Leviticus and Deuteronomy, I have a growing sense of urgency about remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy, but I don’t know what I should do!  I crave that Sabbath rest. How do I find peace and holiness when e.g. my family only wants to watch TV! Thank you for your encouragement.

My answer may help to address similar challenges that are being faced.

Shalom dear …,

Your request, as I’m sure you know only too well, has no easy answers! At the outset, please be sure of two things:

1. Our faithful and gracious Father knows the desires of your heart and will, albeit seemingly very slowly, guide you along the way. Rest and trust in Him. Your longing to honor the Sabbath in itself is pleasing to Him, as is any loving attempt on our part to honor and obey His Word. The Sages of Israel encouragingly affirm that God sees the honest and genuine intentions of the heart and accepts them as if one had already accomplished them. He knows our limitations and every small gesture is extremely precious in His sight.

2. One’s efforts in keeping Shabbat need not be “all or nothing” to be meaningful and rewarding. Start with very small things, whatever is possible in a non-threatening way to your family, and trust the Lord to lead step by step. A few suggestions:

* Think of little things that will make the day special; for example, fresh flowers for Friday night, a sit-down family meal; if you bake try making challah bread (recipe below) or a special dessert.

* Have particular Sabbath prayers you can pray, including blessings for your husband, family, friends etc. and for the peace of Jerusalem. [1]

* After offering a simple explanation and emphasizing that this is something you want to do for yourself, light the candles on Friday evening. It’s lovely to have special candlesticks but even two little tea- lights will do.

* Make time for Torah study – in particular the portion for the week (e.g. ‘A Taste of Torah’ or ‘A Dash of Drash’ available by e-mailing a request to his-israel.com@gmail.com; also see Suggested Resources below, or Jewish websites such as Aish.com and Chabad).

As you plan your Shabbat this way, including relaxing & watching TV with your family (try to suggest a program or good movie more fitting to the spirit of the day!), you will find that it will help to create the unique Shabbat atmosphere – which, with the Lord’s help, will be a blessing upon your family whether or not they are consciously aware of it.

Please be encouraged and persevere. You are on the right track! Every little step counts!

~Keren Hannah

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3.  Three Central Shabbat Activities

There are three central activities one can aim to accomplish in order to highlight the Shabbat as holy to the Lord:

1. Light Shabbat Candles

Send out thy light and thy truth; O God, let them lead me, let them bring me to thy holy hill and to thy dwelling place! (Psalm 43:3)

In a simple and beautiful way, the two Shabbat candles remind us of the lights of the Menorah, God’s Word of Truth, and the Living Word, Yeshua the Light of the world.

The radiance that connects the two resembles God’s Shekinah – the Spirit of Holiness – that joins us together as one, reconciled in relationship with the Father and with one another. Thus, in His light, we experience the sanctuary of His Shalom, His peace.

It is the privilege of a woman to light the Shabbat candles. In her absence, or in certain circumstances, a man is welcome to do so. A blessing is recited after lighting the candles. One shields one’s eyes after lighting to concentrate on the blessing, after which the lights are the first thing seen as the Shabbat enters. The traditional Jewish blessing is found in the Siddur (the Jewish Prayer Book) [2]:

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu be’mitzvotav ve’tzivanu lehadlik ner shel Shabbat.

Blessed are You O Lord, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and has commanded us to light the lights of Shabbat.

If you are so inclined you can amend it, for example:

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu be’Toratcha ve’natan lanu et Ohr ha’Chaim b’Yeshua Mishicheinu Sar ha’Shalom.

Blessed are You O Lord, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with Your Torah and has given us the Light of Life in Yeshua our Messiah, the Prince of Peace.

2. Make or buy Challah Bread

Special festive foods, such as the beautiful braided challah bread of Shabbat, are a central element of Jewish celebration and worship. The importance of challah is highlighted in Midrash Rabba (Leviticus/Vayikra 15:6), where it is written: “One who keeps the mitzvah of challah is counted as though he has abolished idolatry.” A renowned Hassidic Rabbi, the Sfat Emet, commented: “Even bread has something within it that comes from on High.” Even a humble loaf of bread can connect us with our Source, our God, the Creator of all.

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And the first of your dough [challah] you should give to the kohen, in order that blessing will rest on your home (Ezekiel 44:30).

The Hebrew word challah [the ch is pronounced as in Bach] originally referred to the portion of dough set aside as an offering for the kohen (priest) at the Temple. Since the destruction of the Second Temple the word has come to mean the festive Shabbat bread itself. Bread is a staple food the world over and is an important element in the biblical narrative. Yeshua taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3).

After the reminder, “It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”(John 6:32-33), Yeshua made the astonishing claim: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (6:35).

The shape of the challah loaf always reminds me of the “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,” born to the glorious song of angels under the special star that pointed to the new-born King!

The blessing prayed before eating challah is the one for all bread:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, ham’otzi lechem min ha’aretz. Amen.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, sovereign of the world, who brings forth bread from the earth. Amen.

In Hebraic understanding a person is seen as a whole being. Both the body and the soul of a person are gifts from a loving Father and need to be appreciated and nurtured. In similar fashion, dough needs a mixture of both water (which can represent the spirit) and flour (the body). The prepared dough thus becomes a symbol of oneself and is lifted and set apart unto God when a blessing is said and a portion (the challah) is separated as an offering to Him.

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3. Say Kiddush with Wine or Grape Juice

“In Your Presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).

After the rush of the week and the anticipation and preparation for the entrance of Shabbat on Friday evening (Erev Shabbat), the candles are lit, the challot are covered and on the table, the Kiddush cup is lifted and the Shabbat meal begins!

Before partaking of the meal the Kiddush blessing is recited by the father of the home, when applicable. [1]

“…So the heavens and the earth were finished” and we turn our minds to our Creator.

“He made us holy, favored us; gave us His holy Shabbat marking the exodus from Egypt”. He does it all. He sanctifies us, redeems us, delivers us from evil. His is the power and the kingdom and the glory! Amen. Our hearts are filled with joyous gratitude to know that our Father, God, loves us and created the world for our benefit.

The Kiddush includes the blessing over the wine:

Baruch atah Adonai Melech ha’Olam , Borei pri ha’gaffen.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Creator of the vine.

The cup of wine is a symbol of joy. We have met with our God on His appointed, holy and set apart day and we rejoice in His loving Presence.

After the leader drinks from the cup, it can be passed around for everyone to sip from, as a sign of unity in our joy, or each one can have an individual glass in which the wine or grape juice has been pre-poured.

As we share the bread and the wine on the holy day of Shabbat we rejoice in the Lord of the Sabbath and celebrate, with all our heart, mind and strength, the new life we have in Him.

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4. Tips for Challah-baking and a Recipe. [3]

1. Set aside a practice time of at least four hours for a first-time trial run. The steps will be: dough-making, shaping, rising, baking, cooling, bagging and freezing. Each step is important.

2. Practice the braiding technique with Play-dough, or strips of paper, ribbon or fabric, before you actually make the real dough.

3. Cover the raw challahs, once shaped, with plastic while they are rising. This prevents them from drying out and helps them rise.

4. Roll out each piece of dough with a rolling pin and then roll up each strand by hand ready to braid, ensuring the strands are the same length.

5. Use parchment baking paper on the baking tray/s, NOT waxed paper as this smokes when heated.

6. For a shiny look, brush raw challahs with beaten egg, using a brush with real hair so as not to damage the surface of the bread.

7. Last, but not least, say a prayer for success, asking God to bless your efforts.

Also remember that perfecting a challah technique takes time and the more you try the more you will improve until you produce the perfect challah!

There are an infinite number of challah recipes. Here is Lori Palatnik’s Always Successful Challah recipe: [6[

(makes 4 medium challahs – use half the recipe for 2 or freeze the ones you don’t use)

  • 8-9 cups flour
  • 2 1⁄2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1⁄4 – 1 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup oil (canola)
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1⁄4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1-2 oz (50 grams) yeast
  • 5 eggs

Mix together 2 1⁄2 cups flour with the sugar, salt, dry yeast, water and oil. Mix in 4 eggs.

Beat in 11⁄2 cups flour very well. Add 4 – 5 cups flour until a very soft dough is formed. Add raisins. Knead. (Separate portion of challah if necessary.) Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning let warm to room temperature, 1-2 hours.

Make balls, roll them into ropes and braid. Let rise, covered [with plastic] for 1⁄2 – 1 hour.

Beat 1 egg to make egg wash. Brush on challah.

Bake in oven pre-heated to 325 degrees F. (175 deg.C.), for 30-45 minutes.

Do not overbake.

Breathe in the special Shabbat aroma and may it be a blessing!

Shabbat Shalom!

~Keren Hannah 

Footnotes:

1. Lori Palatnik, Friday Night and Beyond, Jason Aronson Inc, New Jersey, 1994, 121. This book is a wonderful reference and step-by-step handbook on Shabbat, with blessings, recipes, and more!

2. There are Scripture-based and meaningful prayers recorded in the Siddur (Jewish Prayer Book) that you can happily base your prayers upon.

3. Tziporah Heller, Introduction to A Taste of Challah by Tamar Ansh, Feldheim Publishers, Israel, 2008; 16

4. Families usually have two challot on the Shabbat table Friday night to remember God’s instruction that the Israelites collect a double portion of manna on Fridays, in order that they not go out to gather any on Shabbat.

5. Blessing for the removal of challah:

Baruch atah Adonai, ELoheiny melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav ve’tzivanu le’hafrish challah min ha’isah.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to separate challah from the dough.

 

SHABBAT 1 – The Sabbath Day

How goodly are your tents (ohalim), Jacob; your dwelling places (mishkanot), Israel! (Numbers 24:5)

This beautiful, poetic blessing has been uttered at the start of synagogue services for centuries. On closer examination, in connection with God’s annual calendar, it yields rich insights that we can well apply to our personal journey through life.

Both tents and dwelling places are forms of shelter. They are essentially of a temporary nature, as are the corporal bodies we ‘inhabit’ during our life on this earth. The word ‘tents’, ohalim – ohel (singular), is a masculine noun in Hebrew. A tent is a construction that enables ease of movement, e.g., in camping outdoors. A tent carries the ‘masculine’ connotations of forward movement, energy, advancement, hands on action and accomplishment – the “doing” of life. Dwellings, mishkanotmishkan (singular feminine), are more complex structures, intended for more extended periods of habitation. A dwelling place, or ‘home’, carries the more feminine attributes of settled contentment, comfort, warmth, rooted security – the “being” of life.

The tent is a symbol of our need for growth, change and aspiring to a goal; our need to be constantly moving forward in order to avoid stagnation and deterioration. The more permanent dwelling place, on the other hand, reminds us of our need for seasons of rest. We need time to be quiet and settled, time to absorb the growth made and the lessons learned during the effort and energy of the travelling forward. Change and momentum are vital; also needed are the oases of calm, the respite from constant movement.

In the Festival Cycle we see the provision of God of these oases at critical junctures throughout the year and at the start of each month (Rosh Chodesh). In addition, as a golden, shining thread connecting and holding them all together, He set in place the weekly oasis of Shabbat.

The Sabbath is the crown of the week; the first thing in Creation that the Creator called kadosh, holy. The involvement and toil of the workday week are good and healthy and necessary, but then our Father calls us to meet with Him in the quiet sanctuary of His Presence, in a special way, on His holy, set-apart day, Shabbat.

Shabbat reminds us that there are times to rest in God’s Presence and times to act as His ambassadors or representatives in the earth. The consuming driveness of this present age, if not consciously tempered or balanced, results in separation from God, from one another, and even from one’s true self. There is a deep need to make the time to learn to receive the love of God, to love one another in truth, and to love one’s self in healthy self-acceptance. We need quiet times to locate and strengthen our ‘inner sanctuary’ and personally respond to the love of the Father.

With this understanding, let us start our exploration of the Mo’adim with God’s first appointed time on the seventh day of each week…Shabbat.

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So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation (Genesis 2:3).

The original concept of a Sabbath day was instituted by God Himself at Creation when He saw that all He had made was good and He ‘rested.’ The Hebrew word used in the Genesis account, shin-bet-tav, which also reads Shabbat, literally means ‘to cease.’ He ceased from His work of creation. This unique seventh day, marked by the setting of the sun on the sixth day, yom ha’shishi, was designated by God as holy – kadosh. He appointed this day of Shabbat as a time that was to be set apart for His holy purposes. This informs us that this seventh day of rest is the Creator’s intention for His entire universe, particularly for those “made in His image” whom He loves with a perfect love.

“If you cherish the lights of Shabbat, I will show you the lights of Zion.” (Yalkut Shimoni, parashat Behalotcha, sec. 719)

Two Shabbat Candles

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There are two specific commandments in the Torah regarding the Sabbath that can be remembered and reflected upon as we light the minimum of two lights on Shabbat. We are exhorted in Exodus 20:8 to remember (zachor) – to keep in mind, to center our thoughts upon – the Sabbath day, in order to keep it holy. This alludes to the contemplative aspect of Shabbat, the appreciation of why this day is different. Deuteronomy 5:12, in contrast, exhorts us to guard (shamor) the holiness of the Sabbath day. This connotes a physically active observance; what we do on the Sabbath to protect its holiness and to ensure that it is a day set apart unto God.

The two are closely connected but can be seen to emphasize two perspectives of the God of Israel. Both contexts reference the deliverance from Egypt and the redemption of the enslaved Israelites. God is our personal Redeemer. He also reveals that He is the sovereign Creator of all and both nature and nations are under His control. The two Sabbath lights therefore carry reminders of the Creation and the Exodus; of the God of Israel as both Creator and Redeemer; the One who controls history and who is working out His plan of Redemption – on a universal level and in the individual lives of each of His people.

Sabbath 6A well-known Rabbi always carried two pieces of paper – reminder notes – one in each pocket of his jacket. He considered these the answers for the common afflictions of pride on one hand, and discouragement and depression on the other. He was very well respected for his great knowledge and teaching of Torah and was often venerated and flattered. If ever he was tempted by pride, he would reach into his one pocket and take out the note that read: “You are nothing but dust and ashes!” There were times, however, when he felt discouraged and he was tempted to indulge in self-pity and depression. Then he would quickly reach onto the other pocket, retrieve the note and read: “The whole world was created just for you!”

The two candles also remind us of these truths. On one hand, to Remember that on one hand we are but dust and ashes; as my husband has observed: “Adam was nothing but a glorified mudball!” Yet, on the other hand, we need to Observe, to keep and guard the truth of who we are in Yeshua – a redeemed, beloved child of God!

Indeed, the Sabbath lights radiantly reflect the light of Yeshua, who as the Word Incarnate said:

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life”. “And whoever sees me sees Him [our Father-Creator, the God of Israel] who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.” (John 8:12; 12:45-46)

Let us protect the beauty and holiness of the light that is given us in the Lord of the Sabbath; and may it remind you that our Father loves you so deeply that He would have created the whole world just for you!

Unity in the Spirit of Holiness

The beauty of the glow of the candles can evoke another picture. We can envision that the two candles represent God and man – or man and woman – separate entities and yet there is a longing in each for relationship, for unity, for the delight there is to be found in one-ness. There is a longing to be echad (one) – united in a harmonious whole; to experience once again the delight of unity that was enjoyed in Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden.

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The desire of God’s heart, and the aim of His entire plan of Redemption in mankind’s history, is to be in loving relationship with His people, His children.

There is a corresponding yearning in the heart of man – even when it is ignored or unrecognized – for restored unity with our Abba, Father. There is, in addition, a desire to be in loving unity with one another both in the intimate covenant relationship of marriage and on a wider scale with friends, family and community. We long to belong.

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The spirit of a person is the lamp of the Lord. (Proverbs 20:28).

The flickering flames of the candles also reflect the unique and God- breathed human spirit. True unity is forged in and by the Spirit of God. The powerful light of His Presence and truth draws us into relationship with Himself and with one another. When the two candles are lit, the light of the flames is what unites them. In the same way, we are truly united as one in the Spirit of God and in the Light of His Truth.

It is no coincidence, I believe, that the Holy Spirit appeared as flames of fire both at Shavuot on Mount Sinai, where God forged for himself one people from the large multitude He had redeemed from Egypt, and at Shavuot/Pentecost on Mount Zion, where He poured out His Spirit on the disciples of Yeshua. A flame of fire represents the purifying light of His holiness and truth; the glory of His Presence and the revelation of His Word.

The first symbol of God’s Word, in the wilderness Tabernacle and the Temples in Jerusalem, was the menorah that the priests kept lit every day as the Ner Tamid, the Eternal Light. The flames were a reminder of God’s Presence and of the fact that He constantly was watching over His Word in order to perform it. This reassurance is relit in our hearts every Shabbat when we light the candles and wonder at the beauty of their radiance.

The seven branches of the menorah are a picture of the week, with the central flame representing Shabbat as the shammash, the servant candle from whose light the remaining six are lit. We trust that the peace and holy light we can experience on the seventh day will sustain us and be reflected through the week days ahead.

Abraham Joshua Heschel describes “…the vision of life as a pilgrimage to the seventh day; the longing for the Sabbath all days of the week which is a form of longing for the eternal Sabbath all the days of our lives.” [1]

In Jewish literature one description of eternity is “Yom she’kulo Shabbat”, the day that is all Shabbat, when at the end of the ages we will move beyond time. Shabbat is designed to remove us from the limitations of time and the constraints of our earthly existence and to enable us to view things with an eternal perspective. On Shabbat we can enjoy a taste of the light, peace, joy and harmony of the eternal Presence of God.

Challah – Bread of Life

There are many “doubles” or sets of two in connection with Shabbat. Traditionally, two challot (special, braided bread) adorn the Sabbath table. This relates to God’s sovereign provision of manna in the wilderness. The Israelites were instructed to collect a double portion of manna on the morning of the sixth day, enough to feed their family on the sixth and seventh days. The manna was such that it only lasted from morning to morning. Miraculously, the manna collected on the sixth day would stay fresh through Shabbat until the morning of the first day. The challah, then, serves to remind us today that although He works in more subtle ways, the Almighty is still our Provider.

Another element in the pattern of twos is to be found in ourselves…the fact that we are both physical and spiritual beings. Necessarily, the week is bound up with all the physical demands of life and living, which are good, but the gift of Shabbat is its ability to free us from the narrow confines of materialism. We are invited to enter the endless dimension of the spiritual. It is designed to enable us to shift our focus from the world of physical creativity and to enfold ourselves in creative spiritual awareness; to move as Heschel says “…from the world of creation to the creation of the world.” [2] I would add, “…from [the goals of] the world of creation to [the Goal] of the creation of the world!”

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When placed on the table, the challah is covered with a special cloth – there are many beautiful challah covers available or, if you are so gifted, you can make your own. In Jewish tradition the blessing over the wine is done first, so in order that the challah not feel ‘slighted,’ or of lesser importance, the bread is modestly covered until it is brought forth at the time for its blessing.

Also according to tradition, salt is sprinkled on the challah when it is served to indicate that it is representative of a covenant offering (Leviticus 2:13).

Wine – Cup of Joy

The Friday night Kiddush, or blessing over the wine, begins with the words: Yom ha’shishi va-yekhulu hashamayim… “On the sixth day completed were the heavens…”

Interestingly, the first two Hebrew words, yom hashishi, “the sixth day,” close the first chapter of Genesis, the chapter describing the creation of the world. The second two words, va-yekhulu hashamayim, “completed were the heavens,” are the first two words of the second chapter, in which God rests from the labor of creation.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi points out that “only on Shabbat does the acronym of these four words – YHVH – become joined together to complete the holy name of God. [3] This is another little reflection of the end of days, when time will give way to the “Day that is all Shabbat” – that glorious day when “His Name will become one”!

And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His Name shall be one (Zechariah 14:9).

Shabbat or Sunday?

The Christian observance of ‘The Lord’s Day’ on Sunday has much in common with Shabbat. The first disciples and followers of Yeshua attended synagogues on Shabbat (e.g., Paul, Acts 18:4). Gentiles who had come to know the God of Israel through the “good news” – the evangelion (Gr.) – and were thereby “grafted in” to the olive tree of Israel (Romans 11:24), were exhorted to attend the communal services on Shabbat, “…where Moses [the Torah] is read every Sabbath” (Acts 15:20) in order to learn more of God’s Word and His ways.

We know that the first disciples, the “early Church”, adhered to Shabbat and the biblical calendar. The question is raised, “When was the present day Christian ‘Sunday’ instituted as the day of worship?” The first law commanding Sunday rest was issued by the Emperor Constantine in March, 321A.D. His decree was worded: “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in the cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.”[4]

In the year 386 A.D. under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church, Theodosius I forbade litigation on Sunday and established the practice: “No person shall demand payment of either a public or private debt [on Sunday].”

Theodosius II, in the year 425 A.D., forbade all amusements, both circuses and theaters on Sunday. [5] Gradually all quarters of Christianity transferred observance of the day of rest from the seventh day to the first day. Today most Christians are of the attitude, “What difference does it make? A day is a day.” The answer to that lies in the heart of each individual in the framework of their communion with God.

Following the removal of the followers of Jesus from the Jewish community and the Hebraic framework of worship, a schism was created that would prove to be ever-widening through the centuries that followed. However, certain elements of the “day of rest” would endure and the central goals have remained similar for Christians and Jews alike. The Sabbath is a day to focus on the Almighty, to seek His face and purposes; also to set aside the regular activities and concerns of the week to worship communally and to find refreshment and, if possible, to spend time with family and friends.

This was a day that was observed nationally in Western Christian culture, just as the Shabbat is in Israel today. It saddens one to observe that the modern popular culture, with its focus and emphasis on materialism and the physical dimension of life, and 24/7 commercialism, has forfeited and ignored the gift that God has provided for both spiritual and physical health – the Shalom of Shabbat.

~Keren Hannah Pryor

Footnotes:

1. Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, The Noonday Press, NY, 1951, 90.
2. Ibid, 10.
3. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Jewish with Feeling, The Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Books, NY, 2005, 35.
4/ Mark A. Finley,The Almost Forgotten Day, The Concerned Group, Inc., Siloam Springs, AR, 1988, 46.
5. Ibid, 46.