Learning Ideas

Learning Ideas

Shabbat is the seventh day of the week. G-d created the entire creation in six days and rested on the seventh day – Shabbat. Therefore, we work the first 6 days of the week, and on Shabbat, the seventh day, we rest.

In Hebrew the word “week” – שבוע – is derived from the word “seven”– שבע – the week has seven days.

A month has 30 days, which cannot be divided equally by seven. That’s why there are some nations that tried to change the week: after the French Revolution in 1789, the French tried to change the calendar and count the days according to the decimal system. They wanted to make a ten-day week. But the new calendar did not last long. In 1929 the Russians declared a five-day week. Instead of names, the days were called by numbers and colors (yellow, orange, red, purple and green). Every person was assigned a day of rest. But this plan did not hold, too.

Only a 7-day week lasts – because this intrinsic of the creation!


Shabbat is the root and foundation for the sanctity of time. In contrast to the holidays – which were dependent on the declaration of the beginning of the month (Rosh Chodesh) by Beit Din, the Shabbat is repeated every seventh day. When the holidays are listed in the Torah, “These are the festivals of the Lord, holy Scripture” “אלה מועדי ה’ מקראי קודש” (ויקרא כ”ג ד). The list   starts with Shabbat: “Six days shall you do work …”


The Holy one, blessed be he, said to Moses: “I have a precious gift in my treasure house, call the Shabbat, and desire to give it to Israel; go and inform them”. (Tractate Shabbat 10). The nations of the world were envious of the Jewish day of rest and emulated them. Some declared Sunday as the day of rest, others – Friday. Today a day of rest is self-understood throughout the world!

But not everyone who has a day of rest can know what Oneg Shabbat is: “An emperor asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah: “Why does the Sabbath dish have such a tantalizing smell? Rabbi Yehoshua answered: “We have a special spice, and Shabbat is its name. ” the emperor demanded: “Give it to us!” but Rabbi Yehoshua explained, “Whoever observes the Shabbath experiences its pleasure, and who does not observe the Sabbath – cannot …” (Shabbat 119: 1)


“It shall be a sign for all time between Me and the people of Israel” (Exodus 17:17) – Shabbat is the symbol of the people of Israel, and those who rose to destroy the Jewish people – issued decrees against the observance of the Sabbath! This was the case in Greece, as it was during the Holocaust, and in Soviet Russia. Many Jews sacrificed their lives to observe the Shabbat. We decided not to tell those stories to the young children.


Every child sees the preparation for the Shabbat in his home. Ask the children: How do you help? Try developing a conversation about it.

It is worthwhile to include the children in the preparations. Many things are done at home for Shabbat! Everyone, whether young or old, can find a suitable task: shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, washing, folding, ironing, setting the table, taking out the garbage, etc.

The preparations for the Sabbath should be performed out of joy and in a good atmosphere.


Shabbat pleassure

At the beginning of Jewish settlement in America there were many Jews who were Shabbat observant. The absence from work on the Sabbath led to their losing their job. They lived in poverty and deprivation, as they went from one job to another. Unfortunately, many of their children did not follow in their footsteps. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l said the reason is because when a Jew was fired on Sunday he returned home, and said with a broken heart: “Oh, Seiz shver tzu zain a yid!” (Oh, how difficult it is to be a Jew! – Yidish). The father’s devotion did not carry over to the next generation, because of the sorrow that accompanied his devotion. They associated Shabbat observance with sorrow rather then with joy – and they abandoned Father’s path.

Therefore, it is very important for the children to absorb and experience the joy and beauty of Shabbat.

“And you shall call the Sabbath pleasure – עונג” (Isaiah 13:13) – Delight and respect the Sabbath with delicious foods (meat, fish, wine, special dishes). Eating 3 meals, Shabbat clothing, singing Zmiros, etc.

In order for the children to enjoy the Sabbath, it is worthwhile to designate some treats for children on this day. Such as special sweets that are kept for Shabbat, or a fun game reserved for this day.