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Shabbat

Ceasing of an ordinary, everyday work on the seventh day of the week is one of the main precepts of the Old Testament.

“Remember the Shabbat day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Shabbath day and made it holy”. Exodus 20:8-11

For this reason, the most important holiday of the Jewish year occurs every week.

Some scholars believe that the origin of this holiday is in close connection with the sacred number “seven” (Sheva). From ancient times this magic number was widespread among many peoples of the East. The number “seven” (and multiples thereof) in the Middle East considered to be lucky. This number is an expression of fullness, completeness. There is the Shabbat year (Shemita) – every seventh year, during which all the debts should be forgotten and arable land must rest for a year. Seven days were to celebrate the holidays of Sukkot and Unleavened Bread, seven weeks separated the holidays of Passover and Shavuot, etc.

Celebrating the Shabbat includes compliance with the requirements of the Torah and the sages associated with the consecration, separating this day from other days.

Some of these regulations have a specific expression: Sabbath candles must be lightened accompanied by reciting a special blessing; on Saturday three festive meals must be arranged, and the first two of them should begin with a special prayer – Kiddush – the consecration of the Shabbat over a glass of wine.

Shabbat Eve

Shabbat eve table.

Other traditions are aimed to create a special festive atmosphere: people wear beautiful clothes, the family comes together for a festive dinner table; they eat delicious food and drink wine. It is a joyous and happy day. Saturday enters the Jewish home when the Shabbat candles are lit. On Friday night, at sunset, mistress of the house lights Shabbat candles and pronounces a blessing over the lighting of the candles. After that the Shabbat begins.

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