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Loving that Shabbat

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Topic: Customs of Shabbos

Robert Fairhurst from Fruitvale, BC, Canada wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Do you have any ideas on how to get the children to love the Sabbath? Such as activities that are in accordance with proper Sabbath observance.

Dear Robert Fairhurst,

Love of Shabbat can be instilled in children (and adults) through a gradual process of experiencing and appreciating the physical and the spiritual beauty of Shabbat. I think the most important point is that the children must have a role model who really enjoys Shabbat. Seeing you enjoying Shabbat will serve as a magnet for their own enjoyment of Shabbat.

You can do many things to enhance the special quality of the day and foster a feeling of togetherness: Leisurely meals, singing Shabbat songs, and discussing the weekly Torah portion are excellent, as are going on family walks or playing games. Telling stories with Jewish content is a proven method of sparking children's interest and instilling love and appreciation of Shabbat.

Robert Fairhurst responds:

Thank you for your reply to my question. I thought your answer was a good one. I would like to know where I could get a copy of the Torah readings. I would also like to know what kind of traditions you follow with your family in keeping the Shabbat? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. PS Do you know of any Shabbat-keeping groups in my part of the world that I could visit?

Dear Robert Fairhurst,

The Stone Chumash published by Artscroll is probably the best copy of the Torah readings for you. It has a modern translation and wonderful commentaries. It's available in Jewish bookstores.

Regarding customs, one custom I practice is blessing our children Friday night before the meal. I place both hands on each child's head and say "May Hashem make you like Ephraim and Menashe" for the boys and "May Hashem make you like Sara, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah" for the girls. We bless our sons to be like Ephraim and Menashe because they were the first two children to be born in exile; nevertheless, they retained their Jewish identity, grew to great spiritual heights, and even reached the stature of the previous generation; thus forging an unbreakable link in the chain of Jewish continuity.

The customs for Shabbat are many and diverse, so I'm sending you a list of some books about Shabbat.

  • The Sabbath, Dayan Grunfeld (Feldheim)
  • Sabbath: Day of Eternity, Aryeh Kaplan (NCSY),
  • Menuchah VeSimchah, Mordechai Katz (Feldheim, JEP)
  • Book of Our Heritage, Eliyahu Kitov, (Feldheim)
  • Shemirath Shabbath, Yehoshua Neuwirth, (Feldheim)
  • Zemiroth: Sabbath Songs, (Artscroll)

For Shabbat groups in your part of the world, I suggest contacting Rabbi Avraham Feigelstock (604) - 275-0007 or Rabbi Mordechai Feurstien (604) - 731-7184. Shabbat Shalom to you and your family.

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