Shabbat (the Sabbath day) is a 24 hour day of rest that occurs every week on the 7th day.
Shabbat officially begins at sunset on Friday evening and ends at sunset on Saturday. Many people add a grace period of a few minutes before sunset on Friday and a few minutes after sunset on Saturday as a precaution.
According to Jewish tradition, for example, Shabbat begins 18 minutes before sunset on Friday and ends Saturday when 3 stars are visible in the night sky. Or if the sky is cloudy, they end Shabbat 52 minutes after sunset.
What are we commanded to do on Shabbat?
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the stranger who is within your gates.
Several times throughout the Torah, we are told to remember Shabbat.
This is really telling us that we are to commemorate and celebrate creation itself. So that we never forget the mighty works performed by Elohim at creation.
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Another purpose I believe for remembering Shabbat is to recall the fact that we were slaves in Egypt which would certainly not have included any break from hard labor.
A day off from the backbreaking labor of a slave would have been quite literally a Godsend.
Make Shabbat holy
Making Shabbat holy refers to setting it apart from the other 6 days of the week.
This will probably look different from household to household but here are a few suggestions about how one may choose to set the day apart:
- Separate the day with a prayer at sunset
- Make it a joyful celebration
- Eat a special meal
- Use a different set of dishes specifically for Shabbat
- Drink wine or other celebratory drinks
- Sing songs
- Read Torah Portions
- Attend synagogue
Rest on Shabbat
We are told to do all of our work within 6 days and on Shabbat to cease all work.
This commandment applies to you and anyone staying in your house or on your property. This includes your family of course but would also include any guest that is staying with you.
Therefore if you have a mother-in-law or a nanny living with you, they would need to keep Shabbat also or get a hotel room.
Additionally, causing someone to work should be avoided as well. This would especially apply to someone who owns a business with employees. Your employees should not be allowed to work or provide you a service in any way.
And this goes beyond just your business. It also applies to anyone who performs work on your property or place of business as well such as a maid, landscaper, plumber, or any other service provider.
Prepare for Shabbat
In the Torah, Elohim explicitly commands us to prepare for Shabbat on Friday.
He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.”
It’s through this preparation that we can help ensure we are able to successfully keep Shabbat.
Because we know we need to eat well if we are to have a peaceful Shabbat, so having meals prepared beforehand ensures we aren’t just winging it on the big day.
But ensuring a peaceful Shabbat doesn’t just stop at food…
It’s also a good idea to tie up any loose ends that could disturb our peace during Shabbat.
- Return any work emails
- Make any necessary work-related phone calls
- Run any last-minute errands
- Perform any necessary chores
- Do any other task that may otherwise disturb your peace on Shabbat
Things to avoid on Shabbat
Shabbat is a delightful day and is truly a gift to man…
Nevertheless, there are of course still certain restrictions we have to be careful not to violate.
Here are a few things we should keep in mind to avoid:
- Tasks related to your job
- House chores
- Allowing employees or any others to work for you
- Lifting heavy objects – Jerimiah 17:21-22
- Preparing food – Exodus 16:23, Ex 16:29
- Lighting a fire – Exodus 35:3
- Traveling – Exodus 16:29
- Buying or selling – Nehemia 13:15-22
- Planning or preparing anything for the other days of the week (grocery lists, etc)
- Talking about secular things – Isaiah 58:13
How one ultimately chooses to keep Shabbat will differ from person to person and that’s ok.
Remember Yeshua’s words: “Sabbath was made for man. Not man for the Sabbath.”
Some may choose to go on a bike ride or walk to a nearby park. Others may prefer to sleep all day. Simply do what brings you the most peace and joy.
As long as what you’re doing does not oppose scripture then enjoy your Shabbat how you want to enjoy it.
What if Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat?
Yom Kippur is called “Shabbat Shabbaton” or the “Sabbath of Sabbaths” in English. Yom Kippur definitely takes priority over the weekly Shabbat. So rather than a joyous celebration as a typical Shabbat would be, it then would become a day of afflicting one’s soul as commanded for Yom Kippur.
How do I keep Shabbat when traveling?
If we’re traveling during Shabbat, we need to hunker down in the hotel room or camp area or wherever we are and observe Shabbat in the same way we do at home. That means ensuring that you’ve gathered all the food you will need for Shabbat before sunset. Also, I believe a light walk to the beach or an easy hike would not be a problem.
What about doing good on Shabbat?
Yeshua demonstrated to us that we are allowed to do good on Shabbat. I do believe, however, that what we can do during Shabbat depends on the urgency of the situation. Can it wait till Sunday without causing physical harm? For example, if a friend needs help moving, this could wait till Sunday, and even if not it could have been done on Friday. However, if you see someone in the street dying of thirst, I believe you absolutely can go purchase a bottle of water (typically forbidden) to help this person.
What about plucking grain as described in Mark 2:23?
The key thing to note here is Yeshua and his followers plucked the grain and ate it. They did not pluck more than they needed. And there was no cooking or food preparation involved. This could be likened to walking to the pantry, opening a bag of chips, and eating it. This was perfectly fine and did not violate the written Torah. It only violated the “traditions” of the elders that they were trying to enforce as law. So if you have a garden in your backyard and you want to go grab a tomato and eat it, then Yeshua showed us that this is fine.
Do people who are renting rooms in my house have to keep Shabbat?
When you have a rental agreement with someone, you are legally conveying your rights to that part of your property to a 3rd party. The property (bedroom, travel trailer, etc.) no longer is under your control and therefore you are not responsible for their actions.