Shabbat is the Hebrew word whence our English word – and indeed concept – Sabbath, is derived.
It is a twenty-five hour long day to refrain from ‘doing’ and engage in ‘being’; to stop, mistakenly, believing that we control our world and hand the reins back to God instead.
The meal that ushers in Shabbat, on a Friday night, is replete with meaningful ritual – if that is not an oxymoron!
We begin with a song (all of our songs and rituals are in Hebrew, but we have both translation and transliteration in order for those not versed in Hebrew to follow) to welcome angels, spiritual beings to our homes. On a day when we look to the spiritual, the spiritual responds by looking to us also.
This is followed by a song, sung by the father of the home, that is three thousand years old. A song sung to his wife in appreciation and gratitude.
After this, we bless our children with a blessing that is three thousand five hundred years old.
The next ritual is ‘Kiddush’. We stand and say a blessing over Shabbat, reminding ourselves of the spiritual gifts that it offers us.
Then we wash our hands for bread. The custom is not to speak between washing our hands and eating the bread. It is fine if one forgets, we are all human, but it may just be that no one will answer!
Finally, we say a blessing over the bread and the meal begins.
Once we have tasted the bread, after the Jewish blessing, I would like to offer each religion to recite a blessing also.
During the meal, we have a custom, unique to our home, which is to say ‘hashgacha’ stories. Each person around the table has the opportunity (without obligation) to say a story that happened to them during the week, or at another time, in which they saw God’s hand in their life. It might be as simple as finding a parking space right outside the place you needed to be, or as significant as a seeming ‘coincidence’ that was of life changing significance. If you have a story, we would love to hear it.
At the end of the meal, we say the customary blessings of gratitude. Again, we will invite those of other religions to share with us any customary blessing that they might usually say.
We are very much looking forward to hosting, and sharing our Shabbat, with you sometime.
Rabbi Shaul and Chana Rosenblatt