There are only a few commands given in the written Torah on how to observe the sabbath day. Of course, we are not to work. We are to rest. We are to assemble. We are not to cook. We are not to buy and sell.
But how exactly do we set aside this day as special?
Traditions have arisen over the past few thousand years, and these traditions vary based on location and culture. Judaism has codified some of her traditions in the oral Torah (called the Talmud), as “fences” to help her people guard the Sabbath and make it holy.
Yet they are still traditions. It’s okay to have traditions, by the way. Traditions help families and nations have a unique identify. Much of the time, traditions are just practical. (For instance, covering a loaf of bread keeps it from drying out. Washing hands before a meal is just good sanitation.)
Traditions are often filled with beautiful object lessons and teaching tools, too. That’s fun when you have children!
Traditions are fine — until they become “the commands of men.”
And the Pharisees and the scribes asked [Yeshua], “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! (Mark 7:5-9, ESV)
Moses warns us that we’ll be tempted to “add to” the commands of God:
“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2, ESV).
So it is with these thoughts in mind that I share the special Sabbath prayers and blessings that we often do in the Elliott home on Erev Shabbat. They are just traditions! Some of them are adopted from Judaism. Some are just adopted from others whose homes we’ve been in on Erev Shabbat. Some are just made up by the Elliotts!
We don’t do these every week. We have small children still, and some weeks they’re too tired. (Some weeks Dad and Mom are too tired!) Sometimes we have guests who would feel uncomfortable with all of this, so we’ll just pray a prayer of blessing over the food like we did in our Baptist days. And sometimes, Dad reaches back into his “pastor days” and gets even more long winded than what you see here. LOL!
But if you’re wondering how to make the Sabbath special in your home, maybe you’ll get some ideas. I’m giving the document to you as both a Word file and a PDF, so that you will free to customize it further for your family.
I would love to feature your family and tell how you celebrate Sabbath! Send me an email, and we’ll put you on the schedule.