Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ann Christine Tabaka writes

Numbered Days

A candle flickers 
A soul is lost 
A match is lit 
But at what cost

Time does not stop 
For man nor beast 
We will be late 
For the great feast

Life pushes forward 
In days and years 
We cannot slow it 
Despite our fears

Days are numbered 
By finger count 
We cannot add to 
The given amount

So make peace now 
And live each day 
Don’t wait too long 
To find your way

"Shabbat Shalom"  Contemporary Judaic impressionistic acrylic painting using a palette knife of a woman lighting Shabbat candles by Peter Theo.
Shabbat Shalom -- Peter Theo


  1. Anytime between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon Jews wish each other an enjoyable Sabbath(Shabbat), though as evening draws near they cease doing so because it was that time of the day that Moses, Joseph, and David passed away. However, they may bid farewell to each other with wishes of a good Sabbath as early as Wednesday. Though various expressions are used, the Hebrew salutation, used by Sephardim of Eastern descent and those who favor modern Hebrew, is “Shabbat shalom,” which means “Sabbath [of] peace.” According to halakha (Jewish religious law), Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night. In preparation, Jews may bathe, get their hair cut, and clean and beautify the home (with flowers, for example). It is also customary to wear nice clothing (different from during the week). As the sun begins to set – in many communities this is 18 minutes before sundown (tosefet Shabbat, though sometimes 36 minutes) -- they gather in their homes and synagogues to kindle the Shabbat lights. Traditionally, a woman lights the candles and says the "brakha" (blessing), surrounded by her family, who all say, "amen" to the ancient formula, "Blessed are You, Source of Life, who has drawn us close to You in holiness through Your commandments, and commanded us to kindle the flames of Shabbat." At least two candles are lit, but some homes light one candle for each person in the family or for each person present that evening so that everyone is represented by a glowing flame throughout the night. The two candles symbolize the two activities that are prescribed for Shabbat, to remember it (with words, thoughts, and actions) and to observe it (refrain from forbidden activity). (The ritual may be done by a man who lives alone.)

  2. Following the candle lighting, the L’kha Dodi ("come my beloved") is recited to invite a mysterious "beloved" (that could mean God or one's friend) to join together in welcoming Shabbat, referred to as the "bride." It was composed in the 16th century by Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, who drew from the rabbinic interpretation of the “Song of Songs” in which the maiden was a metaphor for the Jews and the lover (dod) a metaphor for God. The song is also an acrostic, with the first letter of the first eight stanzas spelling the author's name; it was one of the last Hebrew poems to be regularly accepted into the liturgy. In a synagogue, during the singing of the last verse, the entire congregation rises and turns west towards the setting sun to greet "Queen Shabbat" as she arrives. (Alternatively, the bride is welcomed by singing songs such as “Shabbat Shalom” or by saying the evening prayer service, Ma'ariv, in the home or synagogue.)

  3. Then family and friends gather around the Sabbath table for dinner. Before the meal it is customary to sing two songs, "Shalom Aleichem" (Peace Be Upon You) to welcome two Shabbat angels into the house and another praising the woman of the house for all the work she has done over the past week. A new custom, passing Angel Cards around the table so that each person can draw the angels who accompany him or her for that Shabbat, is becoming popular. These angels are described in qualities like Love, Trust, Balance, Creativity, Surrender, etc. Then the parents place their hands on the heads of their children; sons are blessed with the words that Jacob gave to his grandsons, the sons of Joseph ("May the Holy One make you like Efraim and Menasheh") while the daughters are blessed with the names of the four matriarchs ("May the Holy One make you like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah"). These blessings are followed by the priestly blessing, "May God bless and keep you. May the radiance of God's Presence lift you and be gracious to you. May the radiance of God's Presence shine upon you and bless you with peace." Personal blessings can also be whispered to each child, creating a very special moment between parent and child. Childless couples may bless the ever-present child in each other, and the children might also have blessings for their parents and friends.

  4. Traditionally, three festive meals are eaten: on Friday evening, early Saturday, and a Seudah Shlishit ("third meal") late Sunday afternoon, generally a light repast prepared without meat, milk, or their derivatives. The evening meal typically begins with a kiddush, a blessing over a cup of wine or grape juice, symbolic of abundance and rejoicing. The introductory part of the kiddush recalls the six days of creation which culminated in a seventh day of rest; then the prayer over the wine is recited, "Blessed are You, Source of Life, who creates the fruit of the vine." This is followed by a description of the exodus from Egypt and the importance of a day of rest as an expression of true freedom. Then it is time to wash the hands in a ceremonial act that recalls the Temple priesthood: using a two-handled washing cup, water is poured on each hand three times, the hands are lifted, and a brakha is recited ("Blessed are You, Source of Life, who has drawn us close to You in holiness through Your commandments, and commanded us to raise up the hands"). After the hands are dried it is customary to return in silence to the table, which has now assumed the status of an altar. Everyone waits quietly or together hums a "nigun," a wordless melody, until the bread is shared. Two challot (braided bread rolls made with eggs) which have been covered with a beautiful cloth are uncovered and a new brakha ("Blessed are You, Source of Life, who brings forth the bread from the Earth") is recited. The two loaves (lechem mishneh, "double bread") are symbolic of the double portion of manna that fell for the Jewish people on the day before Sabbath so they would not have to gather it on the Sabbath during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. The challah is cut in slices or broken into pieces and given to each person; some people sprinkle salt on it to represent a basic meal. Finally the meal itself begins It is customary to serve meat or fish, and sometimes both, but may well include chicken and kugel (usually consisting of wide flat noodles, eggs, sugar, cottage cheese, and cream cheese, although there are different varieties--including one made with grated potatoes and onions), humus (a chickpea-based dish) and kibbeh (a lamb casserole that includes onions and bulger), or tofu (made from soy beans) and brown rice. The meal is leisurely, and it is customary to sing Shabbat songs between courses, to talk about the Torah portion of the week, to tell stories, and to engage in conversation. At the end of the meal a spontaneous concluding prayer, "Birkat Hamazon," is recited, based on Deuteronomy 8:10 "You shall eat, and give thanks and bless..." Shabbat closes on Saturday at nightfall with a havdalah (“separation”) blessing over a cup of wine, with the use of fragrant spices and a candle, usually braided.

  5. You are so knowledgeable Duane. Thank you for all of that information. It is facinating to lean.


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