SHABBAT (/ʃəˈbɑːt/ ; Hebrew : שַׁבָּת , "rest" or
"cessation") or SHABBOS ( , Yiddish : שבת) or THE SABBATH is
Judaism 's day of rest and seventh day of the week , on which
Jews and certain Christians (such as Seventh Day Adventists
and Seventh Day Baptists) remember the Biblical creation of the
heavens and the earth in six days and the Exodus of the Hebrews, and
look forward to a future
Messianic Age .
Shabbat observance entails
refraining from work activities , often with great rigor , and
engaging in restful activities to honor the day. Judaism's traditional
position is that unbroken seventh-day
Shabbat originated among the
Jewish people, as their first and most sacred institution, though some
suggest other origins. Variations upon
Shabbat are widespread in
Judaism and, with adaptations, throughout the Abrahamic and many other
According to _halakha _ (Jewish religious law),
Shabbat is observed
from a few minutes before sunset on
Friday evening until the
appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night.
ushered in by lighting candles and reciting a blessing. Traditionally,
three festive meals are eaten: in the evening, in the early afternoon,
and late in the afternoon. The evening meal typically begins with a
blessing called _kiddush _ and another blessing recited over two
loaves of challah .
Shabbat is closed the following evening with a
_havdalah _ blessing.
Shabbat is a festive day when
their freedom from the regular labors of everyday life. It offers an
opportunity to contemplate the spiritual aspects of life and to spend
time with family.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Etymology
* 1.2 Biblical sources
* 1.3 Origins
* 1.4 Status as a holy day
* 2 Rituals
* 2.1 Welcoming
* 2.2 Other rituals
* 2.3 Bidding farewell
* 3 Prohibited activities
* 3.1 Orthodox and Conservative
* 3.1.2 Automobiles
* 3.1.3 Modifications
* 3.1.4 Permissions
* 3.2 Reform and Reconstructionist
* 4 Encouraged activities
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 External links
The word "Shabbat" derives from the Hebrew verb _shavat_ (Hebrew :
שָׁבַת). Although frequently translated as "rest" (noun or
verb), another accurate translation of these words is "ceasing ", as
resting is not necessarily denoted. The related modern Hebrew word
_shevita_ (labor strike ), has the same implication of active rather
than passive abstinence from work. The notion of active cessation from
labor is also regarded as more consistent with an omnipotent God 's
activity on the seventh day of
Creation according to Genesis .
Sabbath is given special status as a holy day at the very beginning
Torah in Genesis 2:1–3. It is first commanded after the
Exodus from Egypt, in Exodus 16:26 (relating to the cessation of manna
) and in Exodus 16:29 (relating to the distance one may travel by foot
on the Sabbath), as also in Exodus 20:8–11 (as the fourth of the Ten
Sabbath is commanded and commended many more times in
Tanakh ; double the normal number of animal sacrifices
are to be offered on the day.
Sabbath is also described by the
Hosea , Amos , and
A silver matchbox holder for
Shabbat from the Republic of
The longstanding traditional Jewish position is that unbroken
Shabbat originated among the Jewish people, as their first
and most sacred institution. The Mosaic tradition quotes an origin
from the Bible of special creation , though some suggest a later,
Shabbat did not originate with the Egyptians , to whom it
was unknown; and other origin theories based on the day of
or on the planets generally, have also been abandoned.
The first non-Biblical reference to
Sabbath is in an ostracon found
in excavations at
Mesad Hashavyahu , which is dated 630 BCE.
Sabbath observance has been suggested in the
designation of the seventh, fourteenth, nineteenth, twenty-first and
twenty-eight days of a lunar month in an Assyrian religious calendar
as a 'holy day', also called ‘evil days’ (meaning "unsuitable" for
prohibited activities). The prohibitions on these days, spaced seven
days apart, include abstaining from chariot riding, and the avoidance
of eating meat by the King. On these days officials were prohibited
from various activities and common men were forbidden to "make a
wish", and at least the 28th was known as a "rest-day". The
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia _ advanced a theory of Assyriologists
Friedrich Delitzsch (and of
Marcello Craveri ) that Shabbat
originally arose from the lunar cycle in the
containing four weeks ending in Sabbath, plus one or two additional
unreckoned days per month. The difficulties of this theory include
reconciling the differences between an unbroken week and a lunar week,
and explaining the absence of texts naming the lunar week as Sabbath
in any language.
STATUS AS A HOLY DAY
A challah cover with Hebrew inscription
Tanakh and siddur describe
Shabbat as having three purposes:
* To commemorate God\'s creation of the universe , on the seventh
day of which God rested from (or ceased) his work;
* To commemorate the Israelites' redemption from slavery in ancient
* As a "taste" of
Olam Haba (the
Messianic Age ).
Shabbat the status of a joyous holy day. In many
ways, Jewish law gives
Shabbat the status of being the most important
holy day in the Jewish calendar:
* It is the first holy day mentioned in the Bible, and God was the
first to observe it with the cessation of Creation (Genesis 2:1–3).
* Jewish liturgy treats
Shabbat as a "bride" and "queen" (see
* The Sefer
Torah is read during the
Torah reading which is part of
Shabbat morning services, with a longer reading than during the
Torah is read over a yearly cycle of 54 _parashioth _, one
Shabbat (sometimes they are doubled). On Shabbat, the reading
is divided into seven sections, more than on any other holy day,
Yom Kippur . Then, the
Haftarah reading from the Hebrew
prophets is read.
* A tradition states that the
Jewish Messiah will come if every Jew
properly observes two consecutive Shabbatoth.
* The punishment in ancient times for desecrating
Shabbat (stoning )
is the most severe punishment in Jewish law.
Reciting blessing over
Shabbat (_kavod Shabbat_) on Preparation Day (Friday)
includes bathing, having a haircut and cleaning and beautifying the
home (with flowers, for example).
According to Jewish law,
Shabbat starts a few minutes before sunset.
Candles are lit at this time. It is customary in many communities to
light the candles 18 minutes before sundown (_tosefet Shabbat_, though
sometimes 36 minutes), and most printed Jewish calendars adhere to
this custom. The Kabbalat
Shabbat service is a prayer service
welcoming the arrival of Shabbat. Before
Friday night dinner, it is
customary to sing two songs, one "greeting" two
Shabbat angels into
the house and the other praising the woman of the house for all the
work she has done over the past week. After blessings over the wine
and challah, a festive meal is served. Singing is traditional at
Sabbath meals. In modern times, many composers have written sacred
music for use during the Kabbalat
Shabbat observance, including Robert
According to rabbinic literature , God via the
_observe_ (refrain from forbidden activity) and _remember_ (with
words, thoughts, and actions) Shabbat, and these two actions are
symbolized by the customary two
Shabbat candles . Candles are lit
usually by the woman of the house (or else by a man who lives alone).
Some families light more candles, sometimes in accordance with the
number of children.
Shabbat is a day of celebration as well as prayer . It is customary
to eat three festive meals: Dinner on
Shabbat eve (
Shabbat day (Saturday), and a third meal (a _Seudah Shlishit
_) in the late afternoon (Saturday). It is also customary to wear nice
clothing (different from during the week) on
Shabbat to honor the day.
Jews attend synagogue services on
Shabbat even if they do not do
so during the week. Services are held on
Shabbat eve (
Shabbat morning (Saturday morning), and late
With the exception of
Yom Kippur , which is referred to in the Torah
(Lev 23:32) as "
Shabbat of Shabbatoth", days of public fasting are
postponed or advanced if they coincide with Shabbat. Mourners sitting
_shivah _ (week of mourning subsequent to the death of a spouse or
first-degree relative) outwardly conduct themselves normally for the
duration of the day and are forbidden to display public signs of
Shabbat laws are restrictive, the fourth of the Ten
Commandments in Exodus is taken by the
Maimonides to allude
to the _positive_ commandments of Shabbat. These include:
Shabbat (_kavod Shabbat_): on Shabbat, wearing festive
clothing and refraining from unpleasant conversation. It is customary
to avoid talk about money or business matters on Shabbat.
* Recitation of _kiddush _ over a cup of wine at the beginning of
Shabbat meals, or at a reception after the conclusion of morning
prayers (see the list of Jewish prayers and blessings ).
* _ Two homemade whole-wheat challahs covered by traditional
Shabbat challah cover Eating three festive meals. Meals
begin with a blessing over two loaves of bread (lechem mishneh _,
"double bread"), usually of braided challah , which is symbolic of the
double portion of manna that fell for the Jewish people on the day
Sabbath during their 40 years in the desert after the Exodus
from Egypt . It is customary to serve meat or fish, and sometimes
Shabbat evening and morning meals. _
Seudah Shlishit _
(literally, "third meal"), generally a light meal that may be pareve
or dairy , is eaten late
Shabbat (_oneg Shabbat_): Engaging in pleasurable
activities such as eating, singing, spending time with the family and
* Recitation of _havdalah _.
Havdalah _ Observing the closing havdalah _ ritual
in 14th-century Spain
Havdalah _ (Hebrew: הַבְדָּלָה, "separation") is a Jewish
religious ceremony that marks the symbolic end of Shabbat, and ushers
in the new week. At the conclusion of
Shabbat at nightfall, after the
appearance of three stars in the sky, the _havdalah_ blessings are
recited over a cup of wine, and with the use of fragrant spices and a
candle, usually braided. Some communities delay _havdalah_ later into
the night in order to prolong Shabbat.
Activities prohibited on Shabbat
Jewish law (halakha) prohibits doing any form of _melakhah_
(מְלָאכָה, plural _melakhoth_) on Shabbat, unless an urgent
human or medical need is life-threatening. Though _melakhah_ is
commonly translated as "work" in English , a better definition is
"deliberate activity" or "skill and craftmanship". There are 39
categories of prohibited activities (_melakhoth_) listed in Mishnah
The term _shomer
Shabbat _ is used for a person (or organization) who
Shabbat laws consistently. The _shomer Shabbat_ is an
archetype mentioned in Jewish songs (e.g., _Baruch El Elyon_) and the
intended audience for various treatises on Jewish law and practice for
_Shabbat_ (e.g., _Shemirat
There are often disagreements between Orthodox
Jews and non-Orthodox
Jews as to the practical observance of the Sabbath. The (strict)
observance of the
Sabbath is often seen as a benchmark for orthodoxy
and indeed has legal bearing on the way a
Jew is seen by an orthodox
religious court regarding their affiliation to Judaism. See Rabbi
Joseph B. Soloveitchik 's "Beis HaLevi" commentary on parasha Ki Tissa
for further elaboration regarding the legal ramifications.
The 39 categories of _melakhah_ are:
* plowing earth
* binding sheaves
* shearing wool
* washing wool
* beating wool
* dyeing wool
* making two loops
* weaving two threads
* separating two threads
* sewing stitches
* scraping hide
* marking hide
* cutting hide to shape
* writing two or more letters
* erasing two or more letters
* extinguishing a fire
* kindling a fire
* putting the finishing touch on an object, and
* transporting an object (between private and public domains, or
over 4 cubits within public domain)
The categories of labors prohibited on
Shabbat are exegetically
derived – on account of Biblical passages juxtaposing Shabbat
observance (Ex. 35:1–3) to making the
Tabernacle (Ex. 35:4 ff.) –
that they are the kinds of work that were necessary for the
construction of the
Tabernacle . They are not explicitly listed in the
Mishnah observes that "the laws of
Shabbat ... are like
mountains hanging by a hair, for they are little Scripture but many
laws". Many rabbinic scholars have pointed out that these labors have
in common activity that is "creative", or that exercises control or
dominion over one's environment .
ORTHODOX AND CONSERVATIVE
Different streams of
Judaism view the prohibition on work in
different ways. Observant Orthodox and Conservative
Jews refrain from
performing the 39 prohibited categories of activities. Each _melakhah_
has derived prohibitions of various kinds. There are, therefore, many
more forbidden activities on Shabbat; all are traced back to one of
the 39 above principal _melakhoth_.
Given the above, the 39 _melakhoth_ are not so much activities as
"categories of activity". For example, while "winnowing" usually
refers exclusively to the separation of chaff from grain , and
"selecting" refers exclusively to the separation of debris from grain,
they refer in the Talmudic sense to any separation of intermixed
materials which renders edible that which was inedible. Thus,
filtering undrinkable water to make it drinkable falls under this
category, as does picking small bones from fish (gefilte fish is one
solution to this problem).
Electricity on Shabbat
Orthodox and some Conservative authorities rule that turning electric
devices on or off is prohibited as a _melakhah_; however, authorities
are not in agreement about exactly which one(s). One view is that tiny
sparks are created in a switch when the circuit is closed, and this
would constitute lighting a fire (category 37). If the appliance is
purposed for light or heat (such as an incandescent bulb or electric
oven), then the lighting or heating elements may be considered as a
type of fire that falls under both lighting a fire (category 37) and
cooking (i.e., baking, category 11). Turning lights off would be
extinguishing a fire (category 36).
Another view is that a device plugged into an electrical outlet of a
wall becomes part of the building, but is nonfunctional while the
switch is off; turning it on would then constitute building (category
35) and turning it off would be demolishing (category 34). Some
schools of thought consider the use of electricity to be forbidden
only by rabbinic injunction , rather than because it violates one of
the original categories.
A common solution to the problem of electricity involves preset
Shabbat clocks ) for electric appliances, to turn them on and
off automatically, with no human intervention on
Shabbat itself. Some
Conservative authorities reject altogether the arguments for
prohibiting the use of electricity. Some Orthodox also hire a "Shabbos
goy ", a Gentile to perform prohibited tasks (like operating light
switches) on Shabbat.
Driving during Shabbat
Orthodox and many Conservative authorities completely prohibit the
use of automobiles on
Shabbat as a violation of multiple categories,
including lighting a fire, extinguishing a fire, and transferring
between domains (category 39). However, the Conservative movement's
Committee on Jewish Law and Standards permits driving to a synagogue
on Shabbat, as an emergency measure, on the grounds that if
contact with synagogue life they would become lost to the Jewish
A halakhically authorized
Shabbat mode added to a power-operated
mobility scooter may be used on the observance of
Shabbat for those
with walking limitations, often referred to as a
Shabbat scooter. It
is intended only for individuals whose limited mobility is dependent
on a scooter or automobile consistently throughout the week.
Seemingly "forbidden" acts may be performed by modifying technology
such that no law is actually violated. In
Sabbath mode , a "Sabbath
elevator " will stop automatically at every floor, allowing people to
step on and off without anyone having to press any buttons, which
would normally be needed to work. (
Dynamic braking is also disabled if
it is normally used, i.e., shunting energy collected from downward
travel, and thus the gravitational potential energy of passengers,
into a resistor network.) However, many rabbinical authorities
consider the use of such elevators by those who are otherwise capable
as a violation of Shabbat, with such workarounds being for the benefit
of the frail and handicapped and not being in the spirit of the day.
Jews avoid the prohibition of carrying by use of an
eruv . Others make their keys into a tie bar , part of a belt buckle,
or a brooch , because a legitimate article of clothing or jewelry may
be worn rather than carried. An elastic band with clips on both ends,
and with keys placed between them as integral links, may be considered
Shabbat lamps have been developed to allow a light in a room to be
turned on or off at will while the electricity remains on. A special
mechanism blocks out the light when the off position is desired
without violating Shabbat.
Shabbos App is a proposed
Android app claimed by its creators to
Jews , and all Jewish Sabbath-observers, to use a
smartphone to text on the Jewish Sabbath. It has met with resistance
from some authorities.
In the event that a human life is in danger (_pikuach nefesh _), a
Jew is not only allowed, but required, to violate any halakhic law
that stands in the way of saving that person (excluding murder,
idolatry, and forbidden sexual acts). The concept of life being in
danger is interpreted broadly: for example, it is mandated that one
Shabbat to bring a woman in active labor to a hospital. Lesser
rabbinic restrictions are often violated under much less urgent
circumstances (a patient who is ill but not critically so).
We did everything to save lives, despite Shabbat. People asked, 'Why
are you here? There are no
Jews here', but we are here because the
Torah orders us to save lives .... We are desecrating
pride. — Mati Goldstein, commander of the Jewish ZAKA
rescue-mission to the
2010 Haiti earthquake
Various other legal principles closely delineate which activities
constitute desecration of Shabbat. Examples of these include the
principle of _shinui_ ("change" or "deviation"): A violation is not
regarded as severe if the prohibited act was performed in a way that
would be considered abnormal on a weekday. Examples include writing
with one's nondominant hand, according to many rabbinic authorities.
This legal principle operates _bedi'avad_ (_ex post facto _) and does
not cause a forbidden activity to be permitted barring extenuating
REFORM AND RECONSTRUCTIONIST
Generally, adherents of Reform and Reconstructionist
that the individual
Jew determines whether to follow Shabbat
prohibitions or not. For example, some
Jews might find activities,
such as writing or cooking for leisure , to be enjoyable enhancements
Shabbat and its holiness, and therefore may encourage such
practices. Many Reform
Jews believe that what constitutes "work" is
different for each person, and that only what the person considers
"work" is forbidden. The radical Reform rabbi Samuel Holdheim
Sunday for many no longer observed it, a
step taken by dozens of congregations in the United States in late
More rabbinically traditional Reform and Reconstructionist Jews
believe that these _halakhoth_ in general may be valid, but that it is
up to each individual to decide how and when to apply them. A small
Jews in the Progressive Jewish community accept these laws
much the same way as Orthodox Jews.
Jewish denominations encourage the following activities on
* Reading, studying, and discussing
Torah and commentary, Mishnah
Talmud , and learning some halakha and midrash .
Synagogue attendance for prayers .
* Spending time with other
Jews and socializing with family,
friends, and guests at
Shabbat meals (_hachnasat orchim_,
* Singing _zemiroth _ or _niggunim _, special songs for Shabbat
meals (commonly sung during or after a meal).
* Marital relations between husband and wife.
Special Shabbatoth are the Shabbatoth that precede important
Jewish holidays : e.g., _
Shabbat haGadol_ (
Shabbat Zachor_ (
Purim ), and _
Shabbat Shuvah_ (or
Rosh HaShanah and
Yom Kippur ).
Main articles: First-day
Sabbath and Seventh-day
Most Christians do not observe Saturday Sabbath, but instead observe
a weekly day of worship on
Sunday , which is often called the "Lord\'s
Christian denominations, such as the Seventh-day Adventist
Church , the
Church of God (7th Day) , the Seventh Day Baptists , and
many others , observe seventh-day
Sabbath . This observance is
Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Some of Messianic
Judaism considers its
Sabbath to be kept according to Jewish doctrinal
tradition, while most of Rabbinic
The principle of weekly
Sabbath also exists in other beliefs.
Examples include the
Babylonian calendar , the
Buddhist _uposatha _,
the Islamic _jumu\'ah _, and the
Unification Church 's
Ahn Shi Il .
Jewish services for
Sabbath in Christianity
Sabbath in seventh-day churches
Shabbat in Karaism
Shulchan Aruch ,
Orach Chayim 293:2
* ^ _Every Person's Guide to Shabbat_, by Ronald H. Isaacs, Jason
Aronson, 1998, p. 6
* ^ _A_ _B_ Landau, Judah Leo. _The Sabbath_. Johannesburg, South
Africa : Ivri Publishing Society, Ltd. pp. 2, 12. Retrieved
* ^ Graham, I. L. (2009). "The Origin of the Sabbath". Presbyterian
Church of Eastern Australia . Archived from the original on December
3, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
* ^ "Jewish religious year: The Sabbath". _Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
Scholars have not succeeded in tracing the origin of the seven-day
week, nor can they account for the origin of the Sabbath.
* ^ Bechtel, Florentine (1912). "Sabbath". _The Catholic
Encyclopedia _. 13.
New York City
New York City : Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved
* ^ _A_ _B_ Sampey, John Richard (1915). "Sabbath: Critical
Theories". In Orr, James . _The International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia_. Howard-Severance Company. p. 2630. Retrieved
* ^ "Mezad Hashavyahu Ostracon, c. 630 BCE". Retrieved 2012-09-12.
* ^ "Histoire du peuple hébreu".
André Lemaire . Presses
Universitaires de France 2009 (8e édition), p. 66
* ^ Eviatar Zerubavel (1985). _The Seven Day Circle: The History
and Meaning of the Week_. University of Chicago Press. ISBN
* ^ Craveri, Marcello (1967). _The
Life of Jesus_. Grove Press. p.
* ^ Joseph, Max (1943). "Holidays". In Landman,
Isaac . _The
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia: An authoritative and popular
Judaism since the earliest times_. 5. Cohen,
Simon, compiler. The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc. p. 410.
* ^ Joseph, Max (1943). "Sabbath". In Landman,
Isaac . _The
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia: An authoritative and popular
Judaism since the earliest times_. 9. Cohen,
Simon, compiler. The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc. p. 295.
* ^ Cohen, Simon (1943). "Week". In Landman,
Isaac . _The Universal
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Judaism since the earliest times_. 10. Cohen, Simon, compiler. The
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* ^ See e.g. Numbers 15:32–36.
* ^ Proverbs 31:10–31
* ^ Ferguson, Joey (May 20, 2011). "Jewish lecture series focuses
Sabbath Course at Chabad center focuses on secrets of sabbath\'s
serenity". Deseret News. The more we are able to invest in it, the
more we are able to derive pleasure from the Sabbath." Jewish belief
is based on understanding that observance of the
Sabbath is the source
of all blessing, said
Rabbi Zippel in an interview. He referred to the
Sabbath as a time where individuals disconnect themselves from
all endeavors that enslave them throughout the week and compared the
day to pressing a reset button on a machine. A welcome prayer over
wine or grape juice from the men and candle lighting from the women
invokes the Jewish
Friday at sundown.
* ^ http://www.milkenarchive.org/artists/view/robert-strassburg/
Shulchan Aruch ,
Orach Chaim 261.
* ^ Derived from
* ^ Klein, Miriam (April 27, 2011). "
Sabbath Offers Serenity in a
Fast-Paced World". Triblocal. Chicago Tribune.
* ^ Neulander, Arthur (1950). "The Use of
Electricity on the
Sabbath". _Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly_. 14: 165–171.
* ^ Adler, Morris; Agus, Jacob; Friedman, Theodore (1950).
"Responsum on the Sabbath". _Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly_.
* ^ Klein, Isaac. _A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice._ The
Jewish Theological Seminary of America: New York, 1979.
* ^ Hannah Dreyfus (October 2, 2014). "New
Shabbos App Creates
Uproar Among Orthodox Circles". _
The Jewish Week _. Retrieved October
David Shamah (October 2, 2014). "App lets Jewish kids text on
Sabbath – and stay in the fold; The ‘Shabbos App’ is generating
controversy in the Jewish community – and a monumental on-line
discussion of Jewish law". _The Times of
Israel _. Retrieved October
* ^ Daniel Koren (October 2, 2014). "Finally, Now You Can Text on
Saturdays Thanks to New \'Shabbos App\'". _Shalom Life_. Retrieved
October 12, 2014.
* ^ "Will the
Shabbos App Change Jewish Life, Raise Rabbinic Ire,
or Both?". Jewish Business News. October 2, 2014. Retrieved October
* ^ 8 saved during "
Shabbat from hell" Archived 2010-01-19 at the
Wayback Machine . (January 17, 2010) in _
Israel 21c Innovation News
Service_ Retrieved 2010–01–18
ZAKA rescuemission to Haiti \'proudly desecrating Shabbat\'
Religious rescue team holds
Shabbat prayer with members of
international missions in Port au-Prince. Retrieved 2010–01–22
* ^ http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3835327,00.html
* ^ Faigin, Daniel P. (2003-09-04). "Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers".
Usenet . p. 18.4.7. Retrieved
* ^ The Sunday-
Sabbath Movement in American Reform Judaism:
Strategy or Evolution
* ^ Shulkhan Arukh,