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THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT - THE SABBATH
1 -The Greatest Holiday - The Sabbath
When most people think of holidays, they think of annual celebrations, but there is one holiday that occurs every week.
This holiday is central to life.
The Sabbath truly has been a unifying force for those who believe in God the world over.
2 - When to observe Sabbath
Sabbath is observed on the seventh day of the week in fulfillment of the biblical commandment: "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God." (Exodus 20:9-10)
3 - Sanctification of Sabbath Time
Sabbath is more than simply another day in the week. It is a very special day, and we invest it with much specialness.
Sabbath takes place only when we make it happen. We must do this. We must make the decision to establish Sabbath in our own lives and in our family life if we want to have it. It is up to us and nobody else.
In order to allow Sabbath to enter our lives, it is necessary to prepare ourselves and our environment. We prepare for Sabbath by insisting that the whole family come together promptly and properly for the happy meal at a table specially prepared and set with flowers if possible.
We light Sabbath candles appropriately before we eat followed by singing a prayer over wine and cutting a loaf of bread to set apart this special time from the rest of the week. It is a special time and the whole family should enjoy being together and having a very festive meal at least on this one day.
Invite some of your friends or friends of your children over to join in with your family festivities.
4 - Sabbath and the Messianic Age.
Sabbath is such a special time that it has been likened to the Messianic Age. A well-known story expresses this thought:
When God was about to give the Torah to the Hebrew people, God summoned the people and said to them: "My children, I have something precious that I would like to give you for all time, if you will accept My Torah and observe My commandments."
The people then asked: "Ruler of the universe, what is that precious gift You have for us?"
The Holy One, blessed be God, replied: "It is the world to come, the Messianic Age!"
The Hebrew people answered: "Show us a sample of the world-to-come."
The Holy One, blessed be God, said: "The Sabbath is a sample of the world-to-come, for that world will be one long Sabbath."
5 - The Structure of the Sabbath Evening Meal
a. Light the Sabbath candles at home with a silent prayer and welcome the Sabbath .
b. Perform the blessing over a cup of wine, proclaiming the holiness of Sabbath. This is chanted or recited before the Sabbath meal.
c. Then a blessing before slicing the loaf of bread .
d. Then the evening meal
e. Close the meal with a prayer of thanks.
Prayers in the local language may be used. The use of the local language is not new; it dates back to ancient times.
7 - Values as Expressed in Prayers
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your strength, with all your being. Set these words, which I command you this day, upon your heart. Teach them faithfully to your children; speak of them in your home and on your way, when you lie down and when you rise up."
This prior passage stresses the love of God, the value of learning, and the importance of transmitting information to the next generation.
Among the principles enumerated are: God is eternal, God has no physical form, God is unchanging, and Moses' closeness with God was unique in human history.
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