MORE IDEAS FOR
THE SHABBAT MEAL
Six years ago, I sent out an email Devotion about the Shabbat meal. I asked if people would like to share about what they do in their home. I saved the responses to share with you. Here I am, six years later, preparing them for you. I am sorry it has taken so long!
I am sure you will be blessed. Some celebrate their Sabbath rest on Saturday and others on Sunday. However, this is not a doctrinal issue on which is the right day. We do not discuss doctrinal issues in Above Rubies. It is for you to pick up practical ideas from others on how to enjoy the day of rest in your home. If you want to refresh on the devotions I sent out, go to THE PREPARATION DAY and THE SHABBAT MEAL.
EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR
Our family finds complete joy and delight in the blessing of the Sabbath. As the days of the week pass, our boys often ask me, "How much longer 'til Sabbath?" and on Friday morning the suspense begins to build as we all eagerly anticipate the beginning of the Sabbath at sundown.
For Friday night dinner we always have seven candles on the table. This
represents the days of the week. I keep this affordable by using six small tea lights and one large more expensive short'n'stumpy one. I put the tea light candles in a flat dish of water to float rose petals on and to catch any dripping wax, hence no cleanup! The larger candle is fragranced and always a beautiful colour. This "special candle" represents the Sabbath as a "special day.” I always remind the boys that God gave us six days to work but then He made us something extra special, "The Sabbath" for us to enjoy and to spend learning more about God's great love.
I find pure delight in watching the sparkle in the boy’s eyes as I share this beautiful thought with them each week. When the whole family is sitting around the table there is so much excitement in the air you could just about catch it! The boys shut their eyes while I light the candle. As the last candle is lit I call out, "Happy Sabbath" at which point the boys take their hands away from their eyes and the whole family shouts out "Happy Sabbath"! It is such a joyful time!
Cup of Blessings
As the meal progresses, my husband pours each of us a glass of non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice. Then we begin our sharing time which we call our "Cup of Blessings.” Before each person takes a sip of their drink, they first share with the family a "blessing" from their week. Each person gets to share and we always find that our "cup runneth over.” The children just LOVE it and when we have guests it is a wonderful witness to the goodness of God.
I’d love to share the following excerpt from my personal journal. This was written on the first Friday night after we lost our little baby at 14 weeks gestation. Our
children were aware of the miscarriage. This story demonstrates the beauty of the "Cup of Blessings" we share each Friday evening.
Journal Entry... Feb '09.
"Last night we had our special Friday evening “cup of blessings.” Joshua loves this time. I usually do too, but last night felt too emotionally raw to want this time to begin. Joshua began with one blessing then my mum said hers. Paul’s blessing was that he felt “blessed to have come to the end of the week and by the grace of God to still be intact emotionally, mentally, and spiritually… and that his wife was in the same position also.” At this point I started to cry (because all that he said was so very true).
Then Joshua began again with more blessings and on and on and on he went saying, “…and my ‘nother blessing is… and my ‘nother blessing is… and my ‘nother blessing is…” and so on and so forth! His list went on and on. You would have thought that his week was full with God’s goodness in his life, which indeed it was!
Finally he said “and my ‘nother blessing is our baby and knowing that I will meet our baby in Heaven one day soon.” At this point he happily stopped his list of blessings as if to indicate that this last blessing had been the “Blessing of all Blessings” and that his cup had just overflowed! Wow! My eyes just filled and overflowed as my heart broke again. What a Hope we have!"
WE RECORD OUR BLESSINGS
Most Fridays, we have what we call our "Blessing Meal,” complete with white table cloth, white dishes, white candles and specially made nameplates that specify significant character traits of each family member. We discuss the meaning of the bread and wine and share communion as a family. We also use a beautifully bound notebook to record "blessings" to each other throughout the week and my husband reads these aloud at our blessing meal.
Brooklin, Ontario, Canada
SHINE LIKE LIGHTS IN THIS WORLD
We have been enjoying the Preparation Day and Shabbat for a number of years. It has brought us to a place of true honor for our Lord's Day.
We homeschool so we “school'' Monday to Thursday, then Fridays are set aside for total house cleaning. We call it “Life Skills!” Once the house is clean, I set the table for Erev Shabbat (evening of Shabbat). We are not very formal, nor do I have nice china yet. But, I have two crystal candlestick holders that my sweet husband purchased for me. We have also added our own tradition of lighting a votive candle for each child, saying as I light them, “May the light of Yeshua (Jesus) shine through you this week.” The children love it!
Our dinner is always the same--PIZZA! Whether bought or homemade, we all look forward to this! We have grape juice and challah. My oldest daughter usually makes the challah, whole grain with cake spice and raisins in it. YUM!
This is such a lovely tradition for us! On Shabbat (Saturday for us) we have a home fellowship. We worship together, with my husband and oldest daughter playing guitars and the rest of us joining in with tambourines. Sometimes we all participate in dance worship. Do you know how awesome it is to see the men dancing in worship to our Lord?
We then study Scriptures together. Right now we are doing a wonderful study on Wisdom. My husband then blesses the children and me, sometimes individually, sometimes all together. When we were first new to blessings, we found the neatest little book written by a grandmother for her grandchildren, called Bless Your Children Every Day by Dr. Mary Ruth Swope.
We conclude the Shabbat evening with Havdallah, which means “separation” in Hebrew. This is not a Biblical tradition, but one which we love and incorporate into our traditions. Essentially, it is recognizing the separation of Shabbat from the rest of the week, and saying good-bye to it. My husband speaks of the holiness of Shabbat as compared to the rest of the week, the distinction between the light of Jesus and the darkness there is without Him. We light a Havdalah candle, which are usually six slender candles wound into one so that the light is quite brilliant from it. We remind the children that Jesus is the light that shines above all other lights and that during the coming week we must shine His love just as brightly.
There is a brief blessing over the wine (juice) left from the evening before as it is poured into a cup and deliberately overflowed (as the joy of this Shabbat was overflowing). A little box with fragrant spices is passed around for everyone to sniff as a reminder of the sweetness of this Shabbat. Then the candle is extinguished into the overflow of juice on the plate, again reminding us of the end of Shabbat. Our children take turns reading Matthew.6:25-34 and then we sing and I conclude with a prayer for the week.
Once this is over, we enjoy our traditional Saturday evening meal of nachos and quesadillas!
Justin, Texas, USA
ANTICIPATING ALL WEEK
What a wonderful, precious reminder to me about what I am preparing for. I used to think it was terrible to begin Sunday preparing for the following Sabbath and looking forward to it. But, then, the Father showed me it is the beautiful picture for us of looking forward to our eternal rest with HIM--the same way our salvation is a rest from living in sin and a looking forward to abiding in HIM forever eternally. So it is not wrong to begin immediately preparing for the NEXT rest.
|Dunlap, Tennessee, USA
One thing we have made a tradition in our family is "candle time.” Each Sunday after dinner we turn off all the lights in the house. We turn off all other distractions (phone, etc.) and gather around a candle. We talk, sing, play games, and pray. The children look forward to this time of family togetherness and it is always a blessing!
Waterford, Michigan, USA
LIVING IN ETERNAL SHABBAT
Bless the Lord who has given us the wonderful gift of Shabbat! Praise our awesome Creator who knows our inward parts and has not neglected a single detail… lovingly providing absolutely everything we need! In His tremendous love and wisdom, He ordained the Sabbath rest. He even made it one of the Ten Commandments…not to tie us down with legalistic burdens we can't bear, but to see His children prosper in every part of their being.
I am so thankful for the Sabbath's day of rest. This is the time when the Lord replenishes me both physically and spiritually, enabling me to have all the energy I need for the busy week ahead of mothering, home-making and practicing hospitality. Somehow I manage to get more done working six days and resting one day, than if I worked all seven days. This is the blessing of the Lord. His ways are not our ways. And oh, what bliss it is to rest for a day without the guilty feeling of knowing that so much needs to be done!
I am not Jewish, and grew up in a secular home in South Africa, where the concept of Shabbat was alien. I ended up marrying an Israeli I met in my travels, during which time the Lord revealed Himself to both of us. Soon after our salvation He impressed on us to return to Israel. In the beginning, we weren't paying any specific attention to Shabbat…it was just not the day to do shopping as everything was closed.
Constantly, in the Word, we bumped into Scriptures: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8); "And call the Sabbath a delight," (Isaiah 58:13). It took a little time to get into the "swing" of how to prepare for the Sabbath to make it as restful as possible. But with some practice and Holy Spirit inspiration, keeping the Shabbat has become a center pillar in the physical aspect of our lives… and Oh, such a sweet blessing!
When I arrived in Israel, the first thing that struck me was how closely-knit so many families are. I strongly believe that keeping Shabbat has a lot to do with it. On "Erev Shabbat" (the Friday evening before the Shabbat day), families all over the country gather to welcome the Shabbat and eat dinner together. Breaking bread and sharing a cup of wine begins the meal. The father often blesses his wife and each of his children. Many end the meal singing songs of praise to God. Even though much of this is done because of tradition, it still has a visible impact on the family in society. Imagine how strong the impact on families who do it with meaning and a true love for God!
It's been quite a few years now that we have been keeping the Shabbat and my life has changed. It sounds crazy, but I sometimes feel that I'm almost already living in an eternal Shabbat (and I have a busy week!). Whenever I stop to take account of where I am, it is Shabbat. I feel like I go from Shabbat to Shabbat. I hardly notice the busy week flying by and it's Shabbat again. Even my children comment on it. Before we know it we will meet our Lord face to face! Sigh…
Even my week points to the Shabbat: the beginning spent clearing up after Shabbat, then as the end of the week approaches, getting more and more things in order and ready… to rest. I find that, in giving me a deadline ('Erev Shabbat'), the Lord helps me not to procrastinate, but get the things done which need to get done. And I have the power and will to do things because I know that a rest is coming. I guess it's a picture of us spiritually… we have the power to labor for the Lord in this life, often denying the temporary pleasure, comfort and rest that the world seeks, because of the hope of our eternal Shabbat rest. The hope of Shabbat, the joy set before us, gives us strength.
God has commanded us to rest on Shabbat. As a mother one may think that sounds impossible. It's not. Obviously there are always little things to do… stinky diapers show up on Shabbat too. But with careful preparation, we can avoid the main weekday work. I always try and ensure that the laundry basket is nearly empty, the house is clean and in order, and meals for the Shabbat have been prepared in advance.
I was taught by my Yemenite Jewish friends how to prepare their traditional Shabbat meal, a pastry that cooks all night in a low oven. What a blessing it is to wake up on Shabbat morning with the aromas of "Jachnun" filling the house. It's something that even enters one's dreams on Friday night, that even in sleep you remember it is Shabbat. Great joy! On Shabbat morning the children know to leave Mommy and Daddy to sleep in a bit. "Jachnun" is a heavy meal, which we eat in the late morning, and it even fills up hungry children for the rest of the day. In fact, you are forced to take a day of rest after eating this one!
The day is spent resting, reading the Word, singing, going for a walk and sometimes fellowshipping with close brothers and sisters. We used to have our home group meeting on this day, but found it added too much stress to the Shabbat, for the family hosting the meeting as well as those having to travel to the meeting. Now it is a day to refresh oneself as a family, and any guests staying with us enter into this rest with us. This is how our family keeps the Shabbat. But let the Holy Spirit teach you what is beneficial for your family.
It is easier to keep the Shabbat in Israel where shops close and most of the country goes into rest-mode. But I have met brothers and sisters from other countries who have chosen to stand against the flow of the rat race, keeping Shabbat, and the Lord rewards them richly. Obviously there are situations where it is impossible to rest on the day of Shabbat, and resting on the first day of the week is better than not resting at all. But there is a special blessing in resting on the seventh day, which is when God rested after He created the world. I believe that where there is the will, the Lord will show the way. Even having Church services on a Sunday is an advantage as it leaves the Shabbat free to rest.
I also believe that there is such a special testimony to the Jewish community to see Christians resting on Shabbat. At this point, Christianity is such a foreign religion to them. They are waiting for their Messiah, and we know that their Messiah is Yeshua (Jesus), but they can't even start to look into our faith because it has deviated so far from its roots. God hasn't changed. It would be interesting to look into Church History and see when Sunday was introduced as the day of rest instead of Shabbat. It certainly wasn't during the time of the first Church in the book of Acts. That early Church was obviously resting on Shabbat, and they had not replaced the feasts that God ordained with Christmas and Easter. They were the most powerful Church in all Church History! Makes you think, doesn't it?
I know the devil shakes at the thought of salvation coming to the Jews. He knows that at this time his end is at hand, and thus is doing all in his power to deceive both Jews and Gentiles from the truth. I believe that, in these end times, God is calling the Church to stand with Israel. Anti-Semitism is rising and negative anti-Israel media is infiltrating the minds of the people, but as the Church, we cannot be blinded by this. Our future is intrinsically tied up with the future of Israel.
I have learned that to prepare for a day of rest (Sunday for us) requires preparation throughout the week (menu planning for the week to include meals on Sunday.
While our small children nap on Sunday afternoon, my husband and I read one section from a godly parenting book and a marriage book, as well as catch up on any Bible reading that we haven't done (we read through the Bible annually). We also share a chocolate (treats always help...wink) and then we talk about what we've read. It has strengthened our marriage and become something we look forward to.
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA
PREPARING OUR HEARTS MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
We love our preparation for the Sabbath day. Our children all love helping prepare everything and look forward to our Shabbat meals. One or the other always says, "Are we having our Shabbat meal tomorrow?" Then their response is "YEAH!"
The other thing we added into our time of asking forgiveness of one another is sharing jelly beans. For every jelly bean we eat, we share one positive thing about everyone in our family or one thing we like or love about each other. This usually takes up the rest of the evening. I'm trying to think of something healthier than jelly beans.
When I first read your article about Shabbat Meals, I jumped right on it. I was really excited! Right now we do Saturday evening because my husband works six days! He also looks forward to Shabbat Meal time and has told many folk about it. We really miss the times when we have other family gatherings and miss our Shabbat mealtime and it shows! This time of preparing our hearts for the Lord's Day really makes a difference on how we enjoy the Lord’s Day.
When I was a young girl, I remember every Sabbath day being at someone’s home for food and fellowship. Their preparation time was Friday until sunset, and no more work was done until Saturday night at sunset. Those times were so very sweet to me.
Tacoma, Washington, USA
THE CHILDREN ARE BLOSSOMING
We have begun observing Shabbat (though we aren't as consistent as we
should be). The children love it and so do my husband and I. Dave wasn't sure that he would be very “good “at blessing the children but he had nothing to worry about. His very heart-felt blessings have been wonderful and the children have blossomed under this demonstration of Dad's love.
Riverbank Kings Co, New Brunswick, Canada
TIME TO RECHARGE AND REFOCUS
A few years after I accepted Christ, I began to wonder why Christians didn't celebrate the biblical holidays. At the time, I accepted the thought that the biblical holidays were for the Jewish faith and/or Messianic Jews. It was never far from my mind, though.
Last year, I began doing some research into our heritage as Christians and found a wonderful website and book on the Biblical Holidays. I decided to do a study on the biblical holidays with my children, as we homeschool. One of the feasts that has moved my heart the most has been the Sabbath. For years, I "thought" I observed the Sabbath, because I went to church on Sunday. I never really understood the true meaning of the Sabbath, and consequently, never observed it, until now.
Since our first Sabbath, our family looks to the Sabbath with great anticipation and looks forward to the preparation, and observance of the day.
When my husband arrives home from work, our four children race to the door to announce, "Shabbat Shalom, Daddy!" At sundown on Friday night, we begin our Sabbath with candles. My husband leads the family in prayer and prays a blessing over the children and me. I pray for him as the leader of our home. What a delight and blessing it is to see the children's eyes light up as their Daddy prays for them.
When we break bread and share the Kiddush cup, we discuss what Jesus did for us and how He is our Sabbath rest and the fulfillment of all of the biblical holidays. After dinner, my husband leads the children in Bible study. We spend the rest of the evening together as a family enjoying each other's company.
Our Sabbath ends on Saturday night as we leave for worship. (We attend 6:00 service, so it is dark when the service is over).
A beautiful aspect of the Sabbath is rest. I have never actually known what rest was. I was raised in a household where rest is considered laziness. The Sabbath rest was never observed. My father, God bless him for being such a hard worker who did his best to provide for his family, went overboard. He has retired three times, I believe, only to take another full time job the next week. I have never known him to have only one job either. He usually has at least two going at once.
Because of the way I was raised, I worked like a dog seven days a week. That’s what I was raised to do. When we began our Sabbath observance, I was at the point of complete exhaustion and burnout. It is exhausting to never take a break! On our first Sabbath, I was a nervous wreck. I didn't know what to do with myself. I almost felt guilty for resting. It was so strange. Then I studied the work of God and saw how rest is biblical! Amazing! It is a time of peace, renewal, recharging, focus, refocus, preparation and connection---to loved ones and to our First Love.
Easthampton, New Jersey, USA
WE HAVE MORE PEACE
We have Shabbat every Friday, into Saturday. It is our "family time"--a time of peace and relaxation. We have made pizza our preferred meal of Shabbat. It is fine to supplement your pizza crust in place of the challah, but we love an old-fashioned egg bread that my grandma has made for many years and enjoy making it too.
I have learned Hebrew and say the traditional Hebrew prayers over each meal, as well as lighting of the candles, to be done 20 minutes before dark on Friday night. The Havdalah candle is supposed to be lit at the end of the Sabbath, Saturday night. It symbolizes the close of the day.
We have a white lace tablecloth that my mom sewed for me years ago that we use and our very best dishes (which aren't fine china by any means, but they are nice to us).
We have something we call "High-Low” that we say each night before leaving the dinner table. We ask each person about the "High" of their day, something good that happened to them. We then ask their "Low"--something that may have happened that upset them. This is very helpful to the children, a time for them to be acknowledged and heard. They are then free to let go of whatever was upsetting them that day. We are often happy to hear that most have had only highs and very few lows! What a joy to a mother's heart!
At the end of the meal, we all hold hands and ask the Lord to bless us the rest of the night and into the next day and thank Him for our time together. We then spend the rest of the night as a family and go to bed content. The following morning is the Sabbath and we rest and read to each other, play board games and hang out. Then Sunday, we have a family home church with my mom and dad and we all learn together as a family. We have a "Sunday School" class for the children; they learn about God, do crafts and other projects and then we do Bible study together. Often the children will get bored and go outside to play or in the other room and the grown-ups will sit around for hours talking about God and discussing what we've learned.
Our weekends are always filled and happy. We are a happy family and feel much more peace since we've started celebrating this special time together.
Henning, Tennessee, USA
We have kept Shabbat for several years now and are growing in it more and more. It is such an encouragement to see what our Father is doing in His people. I made the Ezekiel 37 twist in my challah bread this last Shabbat after reading about it in your email. It turned out very beautiful. I usually make a larger braid of six braids and a smaller braid of six braids that I place on top of the larger one, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, but I like the variety that doing something different brings, too. Doing the twist was great since I was short on time this last Friday. I usually sprinkle my loaves with poppy seed or sesame seed, too. They represent life or the Seed who is Messiah.
Pikeville, Tennessee, USA
WEEKLY REPLACING OUR RINGS
Richard and I have always followed the practice of blessing our children on Friday night, but never did anything ritually to recognize each other. Now, following hand-washing (before which we remove our wedding bands), we each replace the other’s ring, creating a moment each week reminiscent of our time under the huppah.
Even though I'm a Jewish believer, most of the inspiration for this recipe and for incorporating homemade bread into my Sabbath observance has ironically come from my Gentile, believing friends! Since I am not at the point where I can make this bread each week, I am grateful that the recipe yields four loaves. I freeze the other three. I have only been observing the Sabbath for about eight years or so, since I was not raised observant. Each step I take in this process yields more fruit in my life.
Whole Wheat Challah
Using the wheat gluten provides a soft texture to this bread made with all whole grains. You may omit it, but your loaves will be quite dense. A fabulous resource for bread making is the Bread Beckers (www.BreadBeckers.com).
Makes 4 loaves
3 packages of yeast
1 Tbs. brown sugar
3/4 cup warm water
6-7 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra for kneading
1 Tbsp. wheat gluten
1 Tbsp. salt
2/3 cup olive oil
1 egg beaten for brushing over the top
Sesame, poppy or caraway seeds
1. Mix yeast, brown sugar, and warm water in a glass measuring cup. Let stand for five minutes, until mixture bubbles.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, gluten and salt.
3. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, oil, water and honey. Set aside.
4. Add the yeast mixture and the egg mixture to the flour. Stir, and add more flour if needed. Dough should be soft, not too sticky.
5. Knead dough on a flat surface until well combined.
6. Cover and rise at least two hours.
7. Punch down and divide dough into 4 equal balls. Divide each ball into three parts, roll each part into long ropes, and braid groups of three ropes into 4 loaves. Let rise again for 1 or more hours.
8. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush the tops and sides of your loaves with beaten egg, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until outside is golden brown.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
THE TRADITIONAL BLESSINGS
One of the most moving Shabbat traditions are the blessings given over the children. There are many variations on how the blessing is made. The most common custom is for the father to put his hands on the child's head and recite the blessing. In some homes the blessing is followed by a kiss, and in other homes it is followed by personal words of praise. In some homes the mother gives the blessing together with the father. In other homes the mother gives the blessing in addition to the father, and still in other homes the mother gives the blessing instead of the father. In some homes each child gets up at the table and stands before the parent to get the blessing, and in other homes the parent walks around the table and blesses each seated child.
Whatever procedure followed, the blessing is sure to make the child feel special and loved, boost the child's self-esteem, and give the child fond memories of being blessed and encouraged.
The Blessing for a Son
“May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.”
Why? Just before he dies, Jacob blesses his two grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh. He says they should become role models for the Jewish people in the future. “On that day Jacob blessed them, he said, ‘in time to come, the people of Israel will use you as a blessing. They will say, 'May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh'" (Genesis 48:20).
Ephraim and Manasseh did in fact become role models worthy of emulation. Unlike those before them, including Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers, Ephraim and Manasseh were not rivals. Rather, Ephraim and Manasseh were brothers united by their drive to perform good deeds.
The Blessing for a Daughter
“May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.”
Why? Each of the matriarchs has qualities that qualify them to be role models. The matriarchs were strong and laudable women. They endured difficult home lives, hardships in marriage, infertility, abduction, envy from other woman, and difficult children. Nevertheless, these righteous women, through their individual passion, their partnerships with the patriarchs and their loyalty to God, succeed to build a nation.
The Blessing for Children
After the above blessing is recited for a son or daughter, some people continue with THE BLESSING FROM Numbers 6:22-27 for both boys and girls.
“The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance n you, and give you peace.”
Blessings from NANCY CAMPBELL
Finally edited, July 2011