The Torah tells us not to burn a fire in our homes on the Sabbath day. Our sages understood this to mean that one should not light a fire on Shabbat, but one need not sit in the dark and cold on this day which the prophet Isaiah called a “day of delight.” To emphasize this, the custom arose of lighting candles on the eve of Shabbat, no later than 18 minutes before sundown and reciting a blessing over this mitzvah (commandment). We use two candles to remind us of the two versions of the fourth commandment, “remember the Sabbath day to make it holy” in Exodus and “observe the Sabbath day...” in Deuteronomy. Some people add additional candles for each member of the household. Before reciting the blessing, we light the candles, extend our hands toward the flames and then make two or three circular motions with our hands as if to bring the light closer. We cover our eyes as we recite or chant the blessing and then uncover our eyes to see the light of the candles. Some use this opportunity to pause and silently offer personal prayers on behalf of their families at this point.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.
Praised are You, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, whose commandments bring holiness to our lives and who has commanded us to light the Sabbath candles.
As the family gathers around the table, we welcome the ministering angels of Shabbat whom the Talmud tells us accompany each person home on Friday evening, to bring blessing to the household.
שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם, מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת, מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן, מִמֶּֽלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא.
בּוֹאֲכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן, מִמֶּֽלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא.
בָּרְכֽוּנִי לְשָׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן, מִמֶּֽלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא.
צֵאתְכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן, מִמֶּֽלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא.
Shalom aleichem, malachei hashareit, malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ham’lachim, hakadosh baruch hu.
Boachem l’shalom,malachei hashalom, malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ham’lachim, hakadosh baruch hu.
Barchuni l’shalom, malachei hashalom, malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ham’lachim, hakadosh baruch hu.
Tzeitchem l’shalom, malachei hashalom, malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ham’lachim, hakadosh baruch hu.
Peace unto you, ministering angels, angels of the most High, from the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy Blessed One.
Come in peace, angels of peace, angels of the most High, from the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy Blessed One.
Bless us with peace, angels of peace, angels of the most High, from the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy Blessed One.
Depart in peace, angels of peace, angels of the most High, from the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy Blessed One.
Blessing Our Children
It is customary to offer blessings to our children (even grown children) at the Shabbat meal. We place our hands on their heads as we offer the appropriate blessing for boys or for girls and then the priestly blessing for all:
For our sons we pray:
יְשִׂמְךָ אֱלֹהִים כְּאֶפְרַֽיִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁה.
Yesimcha Elohim k’Efrayim v’chi-Menashe.
May God bless you like Ephraim and Menashe.
For daughters we pray:
יְשִׂמֵךְ אֱלֹהִים כְּשָׂרָה, רִבְקָה, רָחֵל וְלֵאָה.
Yesimech Elohim k’Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel v’Leah.
May God bless you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.
And we add the priestly blessing for all our children:
יְבָרֶכְךָ יְיָ וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ. יָאֵר יְיָ פָּנָיו אֵלֶֽיךָ וִיחֻנֶּֽךָּ. יִשָּׂא יְיָ פָּנָיו אֵלֶֽיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם.
Y’varech-echa Adonay v’yishmerecha. Ya’eir Adonay panav elecha vichuneka. Yisa Adonay panav elecha v’yaseim l’cha shalom.
May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord smile upon you and be kind to you. May the Lord lift his face to you and give you peace.
Contrary to popular opinion, Kiddush is not the blessing for wine. Rather it is the blessing for the Sabbath Day usually recited over wine (or grape juice). If there is no wine, one may make kiddush over bread and substitute the Hamotzi blessing for the Borei Pri Hagafen bracha in the middle. At home we begin the kiddush by recalling the Creation story and how God rested and sanctified the seventh day as Shabbat. This is followed by the blessing for wine (or bread) and then the final paragraph where we sanctify the Sabbath as a day of remembrance of Creation and of the Exodus from Egypt.
It is customary to fill the wine cup to the top and to pick up the cup with both hands as if receiving a gift. However, we then hold the cup in our stronger hand to indicate that this mitzvah is not a burden at all. Some stand for kiddush, others have the custom of sitting and some stand to recite it, but sit down to drink the cup.
יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי. וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַֽיִם וְהָאָֽרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם. וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה, וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. וַיְבָֽרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ, כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ, אֲשֶר בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת.
Yom HaShishi. Vay’chulu hashamayim v’ha-aretz v’chol tz’va-am. Vay’chal Elohim bayom hash’viyi m’lachto asher asah. Vayishbot bayom hash’viyi, mikol m’lachto asher asah. Vay’varech Elohim et yom hash’viyi vay’kadeish oto, ki vo shavat mikol m’lachto, asher bara Elohim la-asot.
The sixth day. The heavens and the earth were completed and all their host. God finished on the seventh day his labor which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all of his labor which he had done. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for on it he had rested from all his labor which he had created to be done.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri hagafen.
Praised are You Lord our God ruler of the universe who creates the fruit of the vine.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְרָֽצָה בָֽנוּ, וְשַׁבַּת קָדְשׁוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן הִנְחִילָֽנוּ זִכָּרוֹן לְמַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית, כִּי הוּא יוֹם תְּחִלָּה לְמִקְרָאֵי קֹֽדֶשׁ, זֵֽכֶר לִיצִיאַת מִצְרָֽיִם, כִּי בָֽנוּ בָחַֽרְתָּ וְאוֹתָֽנוּ קִדַּֽשְׁתָּ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים, וְשַׁבַּת קָדְשְׁךָ בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן הִנְחַלְתָּֽנוּ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, מְקַדֵּשׁ הַשַּׁבָּת.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’ratza vanu, v’shabbat kodsho b’ahavah uv’ratzon hinchilanu, zikaron l’maasei v’reisheet. Ki hu yom techilah l’mikraei kodesh, zecher l’yetziyat mitzraim. Ki vanu vacharta v’otanu kidashta mikol ha-amim. V’shabbat kodsh’cha b’ahavah uv’ratzon hinchaltanu. Baruch ata Adonay, m’kadeish hashabbat.
Praised are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe who has desired us and provided us with a path to holiness through the observance of mitzvot, and who lovingly and willingly has bestowed on us Shabbat, a measure of God’s holiness, a symbol of the work of creation. For it is the first of sacred times, a symbol of the exodus from Egypt. You have chosen us and sanctified us from among all peoples by lovingly and willingly bestowing on us Your holy Shabbat. Praised are you, Lord, who makes Shabbat holy.
Immediately after the blessing one should drink most of the cup of wine or juice.
Our homes are to be considered as miniature sanctuaries in the absence of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Our tables then are the altars and each Jew serves as a priest, a kohen, at the table. To symbolize this, we follow some rituals that were performed in the Temple surrounding the sacrifices. We ritually wash our hands and we put some salt on the bread, since all sacrifices were offered with salt.
Filling a cup with water, we pour some over our right hand and then over the left and again over the right and then the left. As we dry our hands we recite the blessing below and afterwards we remain silent until we make the blessing for the bread.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָֽיִם.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al netilat yadayim.
Praised are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe who has made us holy through His commandments and commanded us regarding the washing of our hands.
Two loaves of challah should sit on the table to remind us of the double portion of manna that the Israelites gathered in the wilderness on the day before Shabbat. The loaves should be whole loaves, though one can use rolls or a sheet of matzah for one or both if you don’t need that much bread in the house. While all the preceding prayers are said, the challah remains covered. Since on a weekday, the blessing for bread usually precedes that for wine or other items, on shabbat when we make kiddush over the wine, the wine blessing supercedes that for bread. In order not to “embarrass” the challah by slighting it in this way, we cover it over until we’re ready to make its blessing.
Now, having washed our hands and waited silently for the rest of the family to do so, we uncover the challah, take up both loaves in our hands and offer the blessing for bread:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּֽוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz.
Praised are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe who brings bread forth from the earth.
We cut or tear the challah and distribute it to all with a bit of salt sprinkled on it. We now are ready to proceed with the rest of our Shabbat meal.