A Circle of Sisters and Brothers of Spirit and Scholarship
My mother told me many stories about how her parents managed the Sabbath Day. They believed Sunday to be the Sabbath Day but they followed the rules of Torah for what they believed to be the Sabbath. My mother and her siblings weren’t allowed to laugh or talk loudly; they walked to church because hitching up the horses was considered work; and once home, they must sit on a hard bench and read the bible or talk quietly until the sun went down. She expressed how my Grandmother had them cleaning up the house so diligently on Saturdays and cooking foods before the sun rised on Sunday. They did not realize that day started at sunset but for some reason they did conclude their Sabbath at sundown.
So I remember thinking how glad I am that my parents were not like that but now I wonder if it would have been much better if they did teach us like her parents taught her. Now that we know the true Sabbath, do we really take time to keep it truly as Abba ordained the day to be kept (Deut. 5:12-15).
12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.
13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
1. I prayed and made decisions about what constitutes work. The Bible isn’t specific about on this point, which is why, over the years, Christian behavior on the Sabbath has varied so much. When I reflect on how my grandparents saw the Sabbath Day, I wonder if they were more correct than we are today. What really constitutes work. Mark 3:1-6 and Matt. 12:1-8, both demonstrates to us that healing another or feeding oneself by plucking corn from a bush was not considered work by The Eternal but had he lit a fire and began to cook the corn, that would have broken the Sabbath Day law of not to light fire. This lead to an interesting discussion about what was and was not work – a discussion I encourage you to have with your family, after Bible study and prayer. Is gardening work? Is a nature walk work? Is reading a book work? Is completing homework work? I think only you and The Eternal can determine this for your family. My belief is that anything that should have been done or could have been done before the Sabbath, should be done then and that the Sabbath is dedicated to and focused on building your and your children’s relationship with Our Creator.
2. I try to prepare meals ahead of time. This is why I begin on Thursdays as my Preparation Day even though Preparation Day does not begin until sunset on Thursdays. Thursdays have always been my traditional shopping day. I literally had to think through three meals for a family of five to seven. Smiles… Beginning with Friday even dinner, which was always large to Saturday afternoon lunch. My trick was to plan a major meat for Friday that could be used for Saturday’s lunch but my back up have always been salads of all kinds, cold sandwiches and canned fish items. Salmon salad and tuna mac salad were their favorite items. Plus they loved pasta salads of all kinds. There were some foods that I only prepared on the Sabbath and even today when my kids drop by on the Sabbath, they expect to see Salmon salad or tuna mac. Smiles…
3. We do all the dishes the day before the Sabbath – and make sure the dishwasher is empty, too. That way my family can just pop their dishes into the washer throughout the day. This avoids a messy sink. My friends tell me they use fancy paper wear but my budget was always to tight to throw out dishes, so I simply use the dishwasher on that eve following the Sabbath.
4. It is impossible with four children to clean up everything on Thursday. So, I try to do a little housework and have them to participate as well. Then on Thursdays, everyone knew we had lots to do that night. No dirty laundry was allowed to be in the house when Sabbath arrives. I do not know where I got that one from but perhaps from my mom’s story about her parents. I thought there was something to having all clean clothes and linen by Sabbath Day.
5. For my granddaughter and myself, I set out the Sabbath day’s our Sabbath clothes also on Thursday night. We do not put them on until day time Sabbath Day. For Sabbath eve, we do not dress up although maybe we should do so to welcome the Shekinah Glory into our home and lighting our menorah.
6. Whatever you forgot to buy, just forget about it after Sundown on Friday. I learned the very hard way that it is not worth having no matter what it is. Instead of sharing my story of disobedience when I bought something on the Sabbath, I prefer to share my story of trusting YAH on the Sabbath. So Sabbath morning I am in my car ready to go to Sabbath Shul and discover that the boys drove all of my gas out. The fuel light is on. I am so out done by this. I drive by the first fueling station and they price is lower than ever before but I just could not get myself to go get the fuel. Then something said go back home and forget Sabbath Shul but I had the lunch prepared for members at our table for the week and my granddaughter was really looking forward to going as well. So what did I do? I asked The Most High to extend the gas for us to get there and He did just that. When we left Shule, the car would not start and I laughed with joy. My sons had to come and give us gas to get home but I so thanked The Eternal for making sure we got there safely. What I am saying is that you have to think ahead of time for everything when you are a single mom. Those with husbands do not have so many worries as I did.
7. I don’t focus on what I can’t do on the Sabbath. Instead, I try to focus on what I can do. For example, like many mothers, I find it difficult to have prayer or Bible time every day. So I embrace the fact that on the Sabbath I at least have a bit more time to do this. Other things that seem easier for me to do on the Sabbath include taking time to really read the Torah portion. This one item has brought me so much closer to The Eternal than anything else I do on the Sabbath Day. Its also a time for bonding family when the Sabbath first enters. When the boys were in high school, they knew to be home before sundown on Fridays. Unfortunately, I was not a successful mom at doing family dinners every night but on the Sabbath night, we had family dinner. Another wonderful focus on the Sabbath for me was on nature. During the summer months, I would go to my backyard patio and sit and just marvel at all of the beautiful flowers, birds, and things of nature that Abba Created for us. Do not forget to REST…. I would lay on my chaise lounge and sleep for hours on my back patio on the Sabbath days before I joined the Temple where I spend most all day with them.
Shalom, thank you for this discussion:) This is a common topic amongst my family. It has been a process to find a way to properly prepare for the sabbath in our modern western society . Especially as you pointed out concerning those last minute purchases like gas that seem to come up sometimes. I think it is very important to look at all facets of our lifestyle and simplify as much as we can to make preparing an easier task. I have decided to go raw on shabbat as a time of rest for my body and it reduces prep work!
I have also found that with children it can be easy for them to feel bored or imprisoned by what they can't do but also for adults especially in the home. So, creativity is another key component in how we connect to spirit and how we can share that experience with family. Using art , a self created game, or meditation will keep focus on spirit and also increase the joy and memories we have in bonding through spiritual studies and practices.
As a new mother with my own family now,it is something that is very important to establish early in my household. I look forward to our Shabbat memories that we will create in preparation and observance.
Growing up my mother made a really great salmon salad as well for the sabbath:)
Dear Sister, I am so appreciative of your contribution. I love the idea of the RAW for the Sabbath. It surely adds to the Sabbath being a time for renewal. While, it places a new focus on providing fresh produce for the family that will be appetizing and fulfilling, this can surely bring in creativity and tremendous health encounters for our children.