"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

By Rabbi Yaakov Sandler

Director of Project Development

Heritage Outreach Centers, Israel

Anyone that has ever sat at a Shabbat table of an Orthodox Jewish family will tell you that they experienced something very special.

 On Friday night the family comes home from synagogue to a clean and tidy house, with everybody dressed in their finest clothes. We sing ‘Shalom Aleichem’ to the angels that accompany us home from the Synagogue, we invite them into our home, we ask them to bless us, and then we bless them to go on their way in Peace. Then the man of the house sings ‘Aishet Chayil’ to his wife – the words that King Solomon wrote about the perfect woman of valor.

 We then say ‘Kiddush’ – a blessing over a cup of wine to sanctify the day. The first part of Kiddush is verses from the Torah taken from immediately after the 6th day of creation – ‘……and he rested on the 7th day from all of the work which he had done. G-d Blessed the 7th day and sanctified it…..’ The second half of Kiddush is thanking G-d for his commandments, thanking G-d that he gave us this special holy day which is to remind us of the creation, and of our coming out of Egypt.

 We then wash our hands and start the festive meal with a blessing over 2 Challot (special braided loaves of bread – usually sweetened with honey or raisins). The reason why we have 2 Challot is to remind us that when the Jewish nation was in the desert they survived by eating Manna. Each day they would receive exactly what they needed for that day, but on Friday each person received a double portion, so that they would have enough for Shabbat.

 There are traditional foods that are eaten on Shabbat, but the most important aspect of the meal is that the family is together. It’s a time to catch up and it’s a time to share thoughts and ideas. The Shabbat table is the perfect time for the parents to take an idea from the weekly Parsha and show how it is applicable in our lives and how we can use that lesson to become a better person.

 There are essentially 39 laws of Shabbat which are forbidden, each one is learnt out from an activity that was done when the tabernacle was built, but in truth these 39 laws have many sub categories that one needs to constantly learn so that they are not forgotten. There are many aspects of Shabbat that one gets accustomed to, like not turning lights on and off, and preparing food in a way that doesn’t desecrate Shabbat, but one often finds himself in a situation that isn’t common, and so he needs to constantly learn the laws of Shabbat so that he is always prepared for the unexpected.

 What if ones wife starts going into labor on Shabbat and needs to get to hospital to give birth ? What if my kid is playing outside and grazes his knee, can I clean it and put a plaster on it the same way that I would during the week ?

 Keeping Shabbat in its entirety every week can sometimes be challenging but someone that is constantly learning the laws will always have the answers at his fingertips.

 I have been asked in the past – Why can’ t a Non-Jew keep Shabbat ?

The answer to that question is quite simple, but difficult for some to fully accept……

 Shabbat is called a Bris Kodesh ‘a holy covenant’, just like Brit Mila (Circumcision) is a holy covenant, so too is Shabbat.

 But what is a ‘holy covenant’ ?

Kedusha ‘Holiness’ according to Judaism isn’t separating oneself from this world, rather, it is using this world in order to elevate ones soul and reach great spiritual heights. The Torah is the guidebook of how to reach the greatest spiritual heights possible.

 Since Shabbat is one of the commandments that gives us a great spiritual lift, one can only truly benefit from the spiritual aspect of Shabbat if he is keeping all of the other commandments to the best of his ability – family purity, only eating Kosher, praying 3 times a day in synagogue, and is committed to learning Torah in depth whenever he is able to, along with all of the other commandments.

 A Non-Jew that wants to keep Shabbat clearly wants to also benefit from that connection with the creator, but that level of connection needs to come as part of a complete package.

 Being Jewish comes with great responsibility and commitment. It also means that if one makes a mistake – there are great consequences. Only those that are fully committed and willing, at any cost, to go through the hardships that a Beit Din will put them through, will succeed in converting.

 There is no reason why a Non-Jew cannot enjoy family meals together on Shabbat, and recognize that it is a special ‘family day’.

 If that’s not enough, I would suggest supporting outreach organizations that are educating Jews that have no connection to their heritage the importance of keeping the commandments.

 As Director of Program Development for an outreach organization that has 5 outreach centers across Israel, I have seen hundreds of Secular Israelis become strengthened in their beliefs, become more committed and keep more of the commandments.

 Here is a short clip about our outreach center in Haifa…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rkHXDrSwUFY

 If you would like to find out more about our outreach centers and other organizations in Israel that are educating Jewish students and young professionals about their heritage, please join our mailing list, we send out occasional e-mails to Noahides and Jews alike.

 http://eepurl.com/k-3E1

Rabbi Yaakov Sandler

Director of Project Development

Heritage Outreach Centers, Israel

 

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add your own }

Randy December 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I am an American and a Gentile, and have been disheartened by the way my country has fallen from God’s graces.  After recently realizing that God often ‘shows His hand’ according to the Hebrew calendar, I had intended to start observing the same day of Sabbath as the Jews.  Now I read it is the wrong thing to do.
I will readily admit (to my personal belief) that the Jews have always been His ‘chosen people’, and that even the most worthy of the Gentiles will still have a lower status in the new Kingdom than any of His chosen people.  
I understand what the author is saying here about the Sabbath being a covenant with the Jewish people.  But what concerns me now, after reading this article, is the possible implication that the Ten Commandments were also intended solely for the Jews.  
More digging… more soul searching…

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drydend June 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I hope your soul-searching leads you to good places. I myself had to do a lot of searching before I realized that there is a way of righteousness for a Jew and another way of righteousness provided for a Gentile provided by the same God. If you need help on that search let us know. Just look for articles on our site about the Seven Laws of Noah.

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