Let’s play a game - take a deep breath. Breathe in through your nose, real slow, and then breathe out through your mouth. Do it again, and then again.
Focus on your breathing, so that your mind becomes quiet.
Your breath and these words are the only thing in your mind.
And now - SHABBAT!
What’s the first thing that came to your mind when you thought of Shabbat, with a clear head?
Your eyes gently float through this text, from left to right, and what’s your brain doing?
Shabbat - what does this word mean to you?
What thoughts and memories fill your mind when you think about the 7th day of the week?
We hope that happy sensations come up as you think of Shabbat. Maybe thoughts about family, good food, or quality time with a good book.
This article will explore the different aspects around Shabbat and what it means to us, as members of the jewish people.
We will start at the beginning - the source, the reason for Shabbat.
Why on the 7th day of the week?
Why do we stop everything for a day?
Why do we light candles and have a kiddush?
We may not cover all the “why’s” around Shabbat, but let’s try to figure out how it all started.
According to our tradition, Shabbat is the purpose of it all.
The world, the 7 days, were all created for Shabbat.
What does that mean?
God created the world in 6 days, and then ceased his work, making it a special day, a holy day dedicated to rest and contemplation.
As jews, we’re meant to imitate Hashem and to rest on the 7th day, on Shabbat.
Hashem made this day holy just like that. It’s easy for Hashem, as he’s, well, our almighty creator.
Us, mere mortals, need to put in some effort to make the 7th day of the week holy. To differentiate it from the rest of the week.
That’s where all the mitzvahs, the commandments about Shabbat come in.
Leading the chart of Shabbat mitzvot, are of course, the candles and Kiddush.
So our effort to make Shabbat a special and holy day starts when we light the candles.
We’re told to keep and remember the Shabbat - Shamor and Zachor, as the pasuk goes.
To do that, to keep and remember we light the Shabbat candles. One for keeping and the other for remembering.
Returning to the quick mental exercise we started this article with - one of the first things that comes to mind when many think of Shabbat, is the candles. But it’s not just the sight of candles, it’s the whole ceremony around them; It starts from the moment when we set them up in their designated location on the counter top, on Friday afternoon, or even in the morning, if you run a tight household. A peak moment comes when we cover our eyes to light the candles, and then embark on a world tour to distribute noisy smooches accompanied by a ringing Shabbat Shalom for everyone in our vicinity, willing or not. Later in the evening, comes the lovely sight of their flickering light, dancing on the kitchen walls, as the lights went out. High times for the candles end along with shabbat, when it’s time to place the candle holders on their shelf for another 6 days until we bring them down again.
It’s funny how we can attach such strong sentiments to an object like candle holders, but they really do carry the weight of shabbat with them. That’s why many families choose to keep them mounted on a shelf, where they’re visible all week long.
And if you’re keeping them on display, you should have the prettiest set of candle holders as can be.
That’s where the Candle Holder category comes in, with so many unique options to place in the middle of your home all week long and keep Shabbat in your thoughts.
Our two favorites have to be these dazzling Tall Smooth Candlesticks, with their clean and modern look, but on the other hand, and the Wisteria Gold Candle Holders which are probably THE most unique set of candle holders you’ll see in your life. We can go on and about the amazing candle holders in this category, but with so much more to say about Shabbat, we’ll let you browse through it.
Now that we covered the entire experience around Shabbat candles, let’s move on to the second most popular Shabbat activity, and a very important mitzvah - the Kiddush.
We mentioned the fact that Hashem can easily make anything holy, but we need to work for it. Kiddush, in Hebrew, means ‘to make it holy’. We’re told to make the kiddush 3 times during shabbat - in the evening, morning, and at the end of Shabbat during the Havdalah. Every part of the jewish people, and even every family, have their own traditions around the kiddush - if you visit 10 different jewish homes, you’ll hear 10 different tunes for the kiddush, while most of them use the same phrasing. The tune of the kiddush is the soundtrack accompanying many Shabbat memories, and at some point, it’s not just the parents leading the kiddush - it’s everyone around the table, from young to younger.
In our efforts to make shabbat holy, we do our best to dress up nicely - we wear clean clothes, place a clean tablecloth on the table, and use our best tableware. One Shabbat accessory you can probably find in any jewish home, in the kiddush cup.
According to tradition, the kiddush cup needs to respect the shabbat, so it should be nice, and it also needs to contain a minimum amount of liquid. Looking for a Kiddush cup? Have a look at this category, where you can find many different styles and variations, to make your shabbat holy.
The Jerusalem kiddush cup has to be one of the most unique and pleasing options in this category. On the one hand, it has that traditional look to make you feel like you’re in your childhood home. You can almost hear your own father’s voice as he chants the kiddush when you look at this cup.
On the other hand, it has a subtle upbeat quality to it, making it fun and modern.
And let’s not forget the rest of the family - everyone around the table deserves their own Kiddush cup, so you can all chant it together. We have a whole category for baby kiddush cups and it’s the cutest thing you’ll see all day! Look at this darling Elephant Kiddush Cup with its tiny details and decorations.
Looking at this kiddush cup with its cute little holder you can just imagine the chubby little fingers excitedly holding the cup while everyone around the table smiles. Careful not to spill the grape juice or wine of the white tablecloth! Who are we kidding, we’ll just put in the wash when Shabbat ends.
Now that we reviewed the top 2 mitzvahs for shabbat, we can continue to talk about other mitzvahs like prayer, sleep and overeating, but we’ll touch those through our other topics.
Now, let’s look at Shabbat from a wider context -
We’d like to explore the option, along with you, that Shabbat also keeps us at the cool kids’ table. How so? Every religion has their own Shabbat. Every religion has their day of rest, with its unique traditions around prayer, family and also, food.
Each religion has its own set of rules around when to meet and where. We have our tefilot at synagogue at their prearranged times. We know who’s going to lead the prayer, we know when the davening stops and it’s time for the rabbi’s talk.
We see many similarities across religions. Looking at all religions in a wider context, we can understand that during older times, one religion learned from another, picked up this tradition or the other, creating these similarities.
One custom that’s pretty unique to us, is the Challah.
No where in the world can you find a better smelling, softer to chew through bread.
We’d like to declare the Challah as the top jewish carb. Who’s with us?
To respect the best bread, on the best day of the week, we use Challah plates.
Indeed, this delicious bread doesn’t just sit on the table - no, it has a plate of its own. And challah plates have become a trending item - they come in all shapes and sizes. We love seeing what our talents artists create and challah plates are a futile ground for their creativity.
Wondering just how creative you can get with a challah plate? Have a look at this beautiful Blessings Tray. This handcrafted tray is fun, colorful and makes the perfect gift for the next time you’re invited for a Shabbat meal.
Another proof of jewish creativity is the Chaos Challah Board. If you only click on a single link throughout this entire article, make it be this link. The abstract design for this beautiful tray will make your challah taste sweeter.
So now that we agree that there are similarities across religions when it comes to the day of rest, but there’s nothing in the world like our dear Challah, we can move on to our next topic:
It all revolves around family, doesn’t it?
It all starts and ends with the people we love and cherish the most.
Memories of Shabbat from our childhood, thoughts of current Shabbats, all carry that scent of family to a certain extent.
We choose to spend this time with the people we love, whether they’re our blood relatives or chosen relatives - they’re our family and we love spending our Shabbat with family.
The world these days is crazy. We rush through our existence.
News updates are streamed directly onto our retinas, social media is injected into our veins.
Never in the history of humanity have people consumed information at such quantity and velocity.
We all know how important it is to disconnect from all this craziness, to take a break from the race.
Some choose to disconnect and take the time to be on their own, while others choose to disconnect along with others, their own private tribe of chosen people, their family.
Shabbat is all about that: a group of people who enjoy each other’s company, choosing to share delicious carbs in their favorite place - home.
Our ceremonies keep us together - Shabbat has its structure:
To kick off Shabbat we light the candles, then we pray Maariv.
In the morning of Shabbat we have our special tefila, followed by the best brunch of the week, and the rest of the Shabbat is somewhat of a blur - we’re dazed on food and schlafstunde. The end of this structured time is the Havdalah. Structures help us keep things going - we’re comfortable when we know what’s going to happen.
Tefilas, our prayers, are also structured. The siddur keeps the whole group of people, the minyan, going around the same order of chants. We’re such a structured religion that we even have an outfit for our prayer - Our tallit.
People can choose to wear whichever color clothes they like, to synagogue. No structure there. But then, they all wear the outfit of Hashem - the Tallit, and order is restored. This random gathering of people looks like an organized group once again.
While the Tallit is an outfit, there’s still room for plenty of creativity around it.
We wonder what our forefathers would have said if they saw the magnificent talitot that we get to wear these days. We can all be Joseph with the technicolor coat.
To help you choose your next tallit, we compiled this category, filled with brilliant Tallit options. Here are a few we’re really fond of:
The Emanuel Embroidered Raw Silk Talit- Miriam features Mirian singing with a drum at the red sea. It’s a unique piece to bestow the spirit of our matriarchs on anyone, for a truly deep prayer.
The Cream Crushed Chiffon Tallit Set will make you feel like you're Kohen Gadol, the head priest in Bet HaMikdash. This luxurious set makes a wonderful gift for any occasion.
Now that we covered the importance of spending this special time with our favorite people, as a part of Shabbat’s structures of organized times and prayers, we’d like to mention a very important topic:
Yes. We’d like you to know that Shabbat is good for you.
Taking a day to rest and contemplate, spending time with the people you love - it doesn’t just make you smile - it can actually make you live longer.
Studies show that people who dedicate time to the things that make them happy, live longer.
Whenever we’re happy, calm and satisfied, the brain releases positive hormones which wash the body with everything good. The body fills up with materials which can gradually help the body heal. Our body creates and releases natural antioxidants and pain relievers whenever we’re pleased with our lives, so why not make a habit out of being grateful?
Shabbat is such a great time to thank Hashem for everything we have - our health, a strong body, the family, the home we live in, the community that keeps us strong. On Shabbat, we can just look around, take a deep breath, and feel good about life. Isn’t it wonderful?
So we’re agreed - we’re now starting the habit of having a Thankful Moment, every Shabbat.
And what about the holidays?
Well, they’re a kind of Shabbat as well, aren’t they?
The structured time that’s filled with meals, prayers and people we love.
We also take the time to unwind and be grateful during the holidays. We wear our finest clothes, and use our best cutlery, like the Pomegranate Celebration Cup.
While holidays are sometimes more than a day long, Shabbat is just the right amount of days - one :)
But there’s no competition. We love the holidays just as much as we love Shabbat. We’ll take every chance we get to use our fancy challah plate, like the Challah Platter - Platinum Band.
So we’re settled - no need to choose between the holidays and Shabbat. There’s room for all the days of rest on our agenda.
All the items we mentioned in this article are grouped under the Shabbat category. We invite you to browse through this fun category - it’s filled with so many wonderful items that can make perfect gift ideas for any occasion. In fact, next time you need to get a gift, no matter for who or what - the Shabbat category is the first place to visit. It has everything, but in the best of Shalom house style!
That’s it, this concludes this article.
We hope you enjoyed this piece and may have found some new appreciation for our special day of the week - Shabbat.
Have a wonderful Shabbat - Shabbat Shalom!