"'And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.'
"So ends the work of creation; and with nightfall, a new world is about to begin. A world of holiness and tranquility. A world within a day, the seventh day. For on the seventh day, God rested, and God blessed the seventh day, and God sanctified it."
-Yarda Hashabbat (the Sabbath descends)
We've received a number of requests for us to share more about how we observe the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the highlight of our weeks, and we are so blessed and refreshed by its observance! :)
While I don't plan to make this a doctrinal debate of any sort, I will clarify that we observe the Sabbath in a way which we view as Biblical (not "Jewish"). We believe that a day of rest is a blessing, not a burden, and that the Sabbath was set-apart for us by our Creator. :)
The Sabbath is our day of rest. Friday evening (and sometimes Saturday evening, too!) we go to bed early. It is a wonderful reward after a long week -- to head to bed at 8 or 9pm! :) Our children don't have to go to bed early though -- in fact, often they get to stay up a little later than usual with us.
We spend the Sabbath together as a family. We read Scripture, listen to Bible studies/lectures, sing Psalms, play games, have company over, play outdoors, take afternoon naps, or watch part of a Bible movie.
We usually have no trouble filling the whole day with fun and laughter! :) Joshua and I also enjoy the extra time to talk and discuss things together, as our week days tend to be so very busy! :)
Now, a day of rest sounds nice -- but as a mom, I know a "day off" doesn't just "happen"! ;) It takes, of course, planning and preparation.
Before we had children, I did all of my Sabbath preparation on Fridays. I cleaned the whole house (all 600 sq. ft. of it!), made food for Friday evening, and made food for Saturday. Often, we had guests over for dinner on Friday. Friday has always been a busy day here -- I avoid leaving the house for errands and such (though garage sales always tempt me in the summer time!). Grocery shopping gets done on a day other than Friday or Saturday.
Yehoshua stirs the challah dough...
Now that I have little helpers, I find it's easiest to use two days to prepare for Sabbath. Here are my general checklists for Thursday and Friday, with Sabbath in mind.
•Plan meals for Friday and Saturday -- Ideally this would/could be done even earlier in the week, before the week's grocery shopping trip, but if it's not done by Thursday, I do it then.
•Catch up on general cleaning -- I usually clean the bathroom, vacuum and mop the floors downstairs, and do any other cleaning or tidying that needs done. On Fridays, I only have to do touch-up cleaning if necessary.
Braided challah, ready to rise.
I have so much fun braiding with 6 strands!
•Make challah -- We love challah (it's tasty whether you keep the Sabbath or not!) and when I do make it for Sabbath, I start it early in the morning so it will be done in plenty of time.
•Wash diapers/laundry -- I always wash a load of diapers on Friday morning, so we'll have clean diapers for the weekend! :) I also do any other laundry that needs washed, since I don't do any laundry on Sabbath.
•Make Friday evening's dinner -- This is usually something nice, and I try to do most of the preparation early in the day.
•Make Saturday's meals -- I usually make something that can be baked (in the winter) or eaten cold (in the summer). Sometimes, if it's just us (no guests!) I'll serve leftovers for lunch.
Yehoshua does a quick-sweep of the kitchen floor...
•Wash the dishes -- After making two days' meals, there are always mountains of dishes!
•Do any touch-up cleaning needed -- This should only take 10-15 minutes, if I got everything cleaned the day before!
•Baths/showers for everyone
The Friday list should be done by dinner time, since Sabbath starts at sunset. :)
We don't do all of the traditional Sabbath prayers or light candles, but when we have challah and juice/wine, we do sing the Hebrew blessings for the bread and wine. :) I enjoy meaningful traditions, but obviously they are not Scripturally commanded, so we don't feel as though we must observe them. :)
There are different ideas of what is permissible on the Sabbath when it comes to cooking. My general "rule" is to have food prepared the day before, so that on the Sabbath I am just re-warming/baking what has already been made. Since I cook from scratch, I find that a good portion of our dirty dishes are from actually making the meal -- which all gets done during the day on Friday. :) Crock pots are also very handy for Sabbath lunches. :)
It's also okay to keep things simple! :) Like I mentioned above, sometimes I serve leftovers on Sabbath. I really really prefer to have a nice meal on Friday evenings ('erev Shabbat), but truly -- resting is more important than feasting. If my Friday is getting crazy and "nothing" is getting done, then we have simpler Sabbath meals. :) I do find, though, that with forethought and preparation, things don't usually fall completely apart... :)
There are, of course, a few things that don't cease just because it's Sabbath. There are still diapers to change, hands and faces to clean, and crumbs to wipe up from the table. I like to stack the dirty dishes in the sink, so they actually fit (rather than being stacked randomly all over the counters and stove). We use our normal dishes, but if you can't bear the thought of a whole day's dishes to wash after Sabbath, you might find that disposable dinnerware is worth the expense. :) Since I already have all of the dishes washed from making the meals, I don't really mind dirty plates/bowls and a baking dish or two. :)
So, that's really it, I think! :)
If you have any more questions for me, feel free to ask them in the comments. :)
And, if you observe the Sabbath in your home, I'd love to hear what you do to make that day special for your family! :)