The Shabbat is the seventh day of the week, considered to be a Jewish day of rest. The symbolism of the day stems from the fact that the Creation was achieved in six days and the seventh was destined for rest. Observing the Shabbat consists of refraining from any work and engaging in relaxing activities which would help one better honor the significance of the day. Its aim is also to provide one with time to contemplate on life and/or spend more time with his or her family.
The word “Shabbat” is of Hebrew origin and means “ceasing to work”. Throughout history, the Shabbat became a holy day when it was first mentioned in the Torah, in Genesis 2:1-3, after the Exodus from Egypt.
Observing the Shabbat begins on Friday evening before the sunset and continues until three stars have appeared on the Saturday night sky. The Shabbat begins with a Preparation Day, when all members of the household are to bathe and have haircuts and the house is cleaned as well. Such an observance is accompanied by lightning candles and reciting two blessings. One is for the welcoming of two Shabbat angels into the house and the second one is to the woman of the house, praising her for all the work she has done the previous week.
Other traditions include also three festive meals which occur in the evening, morning after and late afternoon. During the evening dinner, people drink from the Kiddush cup and another blessing is recited over the wine and challah. The second evening the Shabbat is closed by the reciting of the Havdalah blessing.
It is also common to attend the synagogue for Shabbat. There are three Shabbat services held: one on Friday evening, one on Saturday morning and another one on the same day, but late in the afternoon.
Other traditions on Shabbat include wearing festive clothes, refraining from approaching unpleasant topics, refrain from mourning, should that person be on mourning at the time of the Shabbat, refrain from fasting, should the Shabbat coincide with periods of public fasting.