For thousands of years, millions of Jews/Hebrews around the world live according to the Jewish Law. Jewish and some non-Jews believe G-d created the world in six days and G-d took the seventh day to rest and reflect on his creation (Exodus 20:11). What is the importance of the Shabbat to the Jewish people, what are some of the symbolic items used during the Holy Day which starts at sundown the night before? The symbolic of the word Shabbat was given to this day because the root of the word Shin-Beit-Tav, meaning “to come to an end” or “to rest”. Shabbat is the only day mentioned in the commandments therefore it is the most important of all the holy days (jewfaq.com).
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While the word shamor, means to observe however the word observe has a different cogitations to the Orthodox Jews, then to the Reformed Jews or Conservative Jews. Generally there are variations amongst the different Jewish communities but for the most part the traditional Jewish lethargy is the same. The Orthodox Jews are the more restrictive and will walk two to and from their place of worship while reformed Jews are likely to drive. It is also customary Orthodox men and women to sit separately to allow for the focus on prayer, while in the Conservative and Reformed synagogues the focus is on family, which prays together.
My wife and I while traveling to Athens, Greece on our honeymoon attended Friday Evening Sabbath services at Beth Shalom Synagogue. The Temple was constructed in 1930 and is extremely Orthodox. We had no prior knowledge but the usher whom spoke no English, pointed upstairs to my wife and the main floor for me. Like the Hebrew’s in ancient times, many religions of the Verdic period and the Roman Catholic faiths only Men are Priests. Perhaps traditions and rituals of the past have symbolic meaning but have not changed all that much? The Conservative and Reformed Jewish movement has already crossed this bridge and my research paper will be written from a conservative to reform traditional Jewish approach. My Wife, Kids and I frequent Temple Beth Elle in Boca Raton where my relatives are members. It’s not unheard of to see more than one Rabbi in a synagogue but is unheard of to see a template with three full time Rabbis two of which are women. In addition they have a female cantor soloist that makes for a beautiful service.
The second candle is lit the welcoming of the Sabbath begins. The welcoming is also known as the Kabbalat Shabbat and is the first of two very short services. Several Psalms are recited such as the L’chah dodi, which is the greeting of the Sabbath Bride. The Psalm is beautiful both in lethargy and the Hebrew melody. My beloved, come to greet the bride; let us receive the Sabbath. The Pslams translation is as follows “The only God caused us to hear “keep” and “remember” in one utterance; the Eternal is One and God’s name is One, for honor and glory and praise. Come, let us go to greet the Sabbath, which is the source of blessing. From its opening it is pouring as from the beginning; the end of Creation from the beginning of thought. Wake up! Wake up! For your light has come! Rise up my light! Awake! Awake! Sing! The Eternal’s glory is revealed to you! Enter in peace, O Crown of Your husband; enter in joy and exultation. Come, O Bride! Come, O Bride! To the faithful people of the treasured nation.” The last prayer, the mourners Kaddish, which is referred to as saying Kaddish and is for those that, have recently lost a loved one(s). The mourners Kaddish does not refer to death at all. The Kaddish is a prayer to praise of G-d in God’s name. The prayer’s main idea goes back to ancient times and is reflected a similar lethargy of the Christians Lord’s Prayer (http://www.britannica.com/).
The Barchu prayer, meaning to “Praise God, the Exalted One” starts the Evening Shabbat Services. Two short prayers are recited before the most important prayer the Shema, which means “Hear, Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One.” The Shema affirms G-ds unity and is often said several times throughout the day but most notability when you wake and before bed. The second paragraph of he Shema is also recited followed by three short prayers, then comes the Amidah, a series of 7 blessings which talks about the Avot – The Ancestors, Gevurot – The Devine Power, Kedushah – G-d’s holiness, again the blessing of the Shabbat, Avodah – The Sacrificial worship, Hoda’ah – The Thanksgiving and Shalom – The prayer for peace. Several more prayers complete the evening service including the silent prayer, which is usually last for a few minutes to give everyone a time for a personal prayer.
The Mourners Kaddish said a second time followed by one of two medieval poems Adon Olam, meaning, “Before creation shaped the world, God, eternal, reigned alone” or my personal favorite, Yigdal meaning, “Revere the living G-d”. The poem has always had a great tune and I have always felt something spiritual to the Yigdal prayer. While reading the comments written by R. Eliesers I have learned the Yigdal poem is a poetic variation of Maimonides thirteen principles of faith (myjewishlearning.com). Meaning summarizes the required beliefs of Judaism. It is also the name of a hospital in Brooklyn where my Grandmother had passed on. Now I understand why I felt so connected to the Yigdal and what a great way to end the service reaffirming my beliefs.
The festive meal awaits, the Kiddish, which is an overflowing glass of wine or grape juice is said. The overflowing reminds us of the fullness of joy that we have in the Shabbat. We proceed to wash our hands with a short prayer and finally the blessing of the Challah, called the Ha-Motzi or just the Motzi for short. Symbolically, two Chalot are used for the reason during the time in Egypt on Fridays a double portion of Manna fell from the heavens. The prayer is as follows: Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe who brings forth bread from the earth. (Amen). Many years ago my wife and I befriended an Israeli couple and adopted the dipping of the Challah into sea salt. Not understanding why, we looked it looked it up and found sea salt never spoils or decays, therefore, it is symbolic of our eternal covenant with G-d (http://www.askmoses.com.) Finally, the festive meal begins filled with an evening of singing, laughing, rejoicing with family before repairing to bed.
Around 9:00am Saturday morning Jews begin to congregate to synagogue also called Shul. The adult men are required to place a Yamaka and a Tallit which both sanctifies a personal space between you and g-d. The Shacharit service begins; the Torah is taken from the Ark and a series of selections are read which are based on the past weeks teaching. The Torah is written with no vowels and is difficult to read even by most skilled Torah readers. It is so important two proof readers called biguys follow along carefully to ensure its accuracy.
The Hoftorah is recited, which many Jews like I ask why the Hoftorah is read when it’s reading are linked to the same torah portion. My understanding is during a period of time Jews were forbidden from reading the Torah and the Hoftorah was a substitute. The Hoftorah reading had continued although the Torah was once again allowed to be read. The Ashrei prayer is repeated and the Torah scroll is returned to the Ark again in a care but accurate procession. Usually, the Rabbi will offer a weekly spiritual sermon, something that is related to the weekly Torah portion.
The liturgy in the Musaf service has been changed, identifying the State of Israel as the Jewish homeland, but recognizing the Temple only as historical and not as a structure that will one day be restored (Wikipedia – find other source). The Musaf service also includes the Amidah and it follows the same service read Friday evening. The Mincha begins; the second Torah is removed from the Ark using the same procession as the first. The first portion of the upcoming weeks Torah is read and the Torah is returned to the Ark.
By the time birkat ha-mazon is done, it is about 2PM. The family studies Torah for a while, talks, takes an afternoon walk, plays some checkers, or engages in other leisure activities. A short afternoon nap is not uncommon. It is traditional to have a third meal before Shabbat is over. This is usually a light meal in the late afternoon. Shabbat ends at nightfall, when three stars are visible, approximately 40 minutes after sunset. At the conclusion of Shabbat, the family performs a concluding ritual called Havdalah separation, division). Blessings are recited over wine, spices and candles. Then a blessing is recited regarding the division between the sacred and the secular, between Shabbat and the working days.
As you can see, Shabbat is a very full day when it is properly observed, and very relaxing. You really don’t miss being unable to turn on the TV, drive a car or go shopping.
Cersus the Christian point of view as a day of prayer much different then that of the Jewish faith.
While the following day
for morning services. For everyone Simcha, I assure you the oldest grandparent will also do the Mostzi regardless of how shaky their hand is.
What does Shabbat mean to me and why is it after all these years
I don’t consider the things I do on Saturday as working
My Grandmother Ida, may she be rested and I’m sure she would be very proud to know that we continue to use her candle stick holders each Friday night as she did for some seventy plus years
Do not get me wrong here there are variations amongst the different Jewish communities but for the most part the traditional Jewish liturgy are the same and are sung or chanted with traditional melodies.
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