Preparing for Shabbat

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Friday on a Jewish calendar

There is an entire array of laws and customs on how to maximize our Fridays in preparation for Shabbat. Even one who has servants at his disposal is obligated to personally tend to at least some of the Shabbat preparations himself. [1]

Obligation

  1. This mitzvah of preparing for Shabbat applies to everyone. [2]Even an important person should prepare for Shabbat and not consider it degrading because in fact it is an honor to honor Shabbat. [3]
  2. Work should be minimized on Fridays in order to allow for plenty of time to properly prepare for Shabbat. [4]
  3. It is the husband's job to ensure that the Shabbat candles are in place and ready for lighting each week. [5]
  4. Even if one had many helpers or family members preparing for Shabbat one should make an effort to personally be involved in preparing for Shabbat. [6]
  5. One should endeavor to purchase flowers in honor of Shabbat. [7]
  6. A person should try to review his deeds from the past week and resolve to correct his mistakes on Fridays. [8]
  7. Even if it means minimizing one's amount of Torah learning on Friday, one should still personally be involved in preparing for Shabbat.[9]

Buying food for Shabbat

  1. The amount of money one receives from Hashem for the year does not include the money that he spends for Shabbat. [10] Although one shouldn't force himself to borrow money to buy extra Shabbat foods, one should spend according to his wealth and whoever adds is praiseworthy. [11]
  2. One should begin one's Shabbat preparations as early as possible on Friday. [12]
  3. One should make sure to buy one's food for Shabbat on Friday and not before [13] One shouldn't even buy the food on Thursday night. [14] However, if there's a fear that one won't be able to buy one's food on Friday or that the food will not be ready in time if bought on Friday, then one may do so on Thursday. [15] On a short friday, one may do his shopping earlier. [16]
  4. One must pray before going to buy one's food for Shabbat and if one regularly learns one should not change one's practice and only buy the food afterwards unless there's a fear that one will loose the opportunity to buy the food in which case one should delay one's learning.[17]
  5. If there's a fear that if one waits until after davening one may loose the opportunity to buy one's food for Shabbat before prayer but one should at least say Shema beforehand. [18]
  6. When buying food for Shabbat, it is praiseworthy to verbally state to oneself that the food is for such purpose. [19]
  7. Indeed, one should endeavor to do something every day of the week in honor of Shabbat, as did Shammai. Whenever Shammai would go shopping and come across a tasty piece of meat, he would purchase it in honor of Shabbat. If later in the week he came across an even more attractive piece of meat, he would eat the first one and save the nicer one in honor of Shabbat. [20]
  8. Even if one has already prepared Friday morning preferably one should prepare just before Shabbat starts. [21]

Baking Challah for Shabbat

  1. The custom is to knead a Shiur Challah of dough when baking Challah on Friday for Shabbat.[22]
  2. Some authorities say that one should not follow the custom to bake shlissel challah (key challah) on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Iyar.[23]

Working on Friday afternoon

  1. One shouldn't begin a a task after mincha on Friday, some say this refers to 6.5 hours into the day, and some say this refers to 9 hours into the day. Any activity which is permitted on Chol HaMoed is permitted on Friday after mincha.[24]

Tasting the food in preparation of Shabbat

  1. It is considered a great a mitzva to taste the Shabbat food every Friday afternoon. [25] in order to ensure that it is tasty and fit to be served at the Shabbat meal.[26]It is noted that the custom of tasting the Shabbat foods on Friday afternoons is one which is quite widespread. [27]
  2. Similarly, there are those who suggest that in the event that one knows exactly how the Shabbat foods taste (i.e. the same recipe and results week after week) there is no obligation to do so. [28] Nevertheless, in order to satisfy most opinions one should be sure to taste at least one dish in honor of Shabbat every Friday afternoon.[29]
  3. On Friday of Shabbat Chazon, one shouldn’t taste the food. [30] According to Sephardim, if someone always tastes from the food before Shabbat to see if it needs more spices it is permitted to do so even before Shabbat chazon even though it is in the nine days. One who is strict not to do so will be blessed.[31]
  4. If Asara BeTevet falls out to be on Friday one may taste the food if one spits it out and doesn’t swallow. [32]

Which foods should be tasted?

  1. Some authorities suggest that the mitzva of tasting the Shabbat food pertains specifically to the chulent[33] though most others insist that it applies equally to all the foods which one will be eating throughout Shabbat.[34]

Who should taste the food?

  1. There are a number of authorities who maintain that one is not obligated to taste every single Shabbat dish. It suffices for the lady of the house to taste the food in the course of her cooking to ensure that all the Shabbat foods are tasty.[35]

Eating on Friday

Having a meal on Erev Shabbat

Showering for Shabbat

  1. It is also a big mitzva to shower on Fridays, in honor of Shabbat, preferably late in the day. [36]
  2. The mitzva of showering can only be fulfilled with warm to hot water. [37]
  3. The order of what to wash first when showering is as follows: head, face, chest, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg.[38]

Brushing one's hair

  1. One should brush one's hair nicely in honor of Shabbat. [39]

Cutting one's nails

  1. One should arrange for one's hair and nails to be cut on Erev Shabbat. [40]
  2. See also the Laws of cutting one's nails.

Going to Mikvah

  1. It is also meritorious to immerse in a mikva, if possible. [41]

Getting dressed for Shabbat

  1. One is required to inspect one's Shabbat clothes before the onset of Shabbat to ensure that there is nothing muktza in the pockets. This is especially crucial for one who lives in a place without an Eruv in which case it is forbidden to go outside on Shabbat with anything at all in one's pockets. [42]
  2. One should don one's Shabbat clothes late Friday afternoon in honor of Shabbat.[43]
  3. One should wear these clothes until at least after Havdalla on Saturday night.[44]

Setting the Table for Friday Night

  1. The table should ideally be set before the husband returns from shul. [45] Some great Rabbis have the practice to honor Shabbat by ensuring that the Shabbat table is set early in the day and some even set it on Thursday nights. [46]

Traveling on Friday

  1. One should avoid all unnecessary travel on Erev Shabbat especially if it means travelling out of town. [47]
  2. If one plans on being a guest at someone’s home over Shabbat, one must be sure to arrive early enough on Friday to ensure that one's hosts will be able to properly prepare for one's Shabbat needs. [48]
  3. For the topic of boarding a boarding a boat on Friday see Taking a cruise over Shabbat.
  4. For the topic of boarding an airplane on Friday see Transportation_on_Shabbat#Airplane.

Other Customs of Preparing for Shabbat

  1. Everyone should be careful not to get angry while preparing for Shabbat especially about the lights and food.[49]
  2. Friday is a day for Teshuva since Shabbat affords a person atonement for one’s sins if he protects it properly.[50]
  3. It is a nice practice to buy for Shabbat a fruit which Israel is compared to such as a date, nut, or apple.[51]
  4. There is a kabbalistic practice to get two sets of three hadasim for the Shabbat table.[52]

Credits

  1. Special thanks to Rabbi Ari Enkin author of the Amot Shel Halacha series for his contribution to this article. If you would like to purchase his books please click here.

Sources

  1. Rambam Hilchot Shabbat 30:6, Tur Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 250:1, Magen Avraham 250:2, Baer Heitiv 250:2, Pri Megadim Eshel Avraham 250:2, Chayei Adam Shabbat 1:3, Shulchan Aruch Harav 250:4, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:5, Mishna Brurah 250:4, Rivevot Ephraim 1:181, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). The gemara Shabbat 119a reports how many amoraim would exert themselves in preparing for shabbat. Orchot Rabbeinu 3: pg. 228 says that the Steipler used to sweep the house in honor of Shabbat
  2. Shulchan Aruch 250:1, Mishna Brurah 250:3
  3. Meoros HaShabbos (vol 1, pg 18)
  4. Mishna Brurah 25:1-4, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin), Sefer Chassidim 121, 122. See also the Kaf Hachaim 250:5 Shaare Teshuva 250:2, Ben Ish Chai Parashat Lech Lecha 2:4, Machazik Beracha 250:1, Chesed Laalafim 250:1, Tziporen Shamir 9:126, Kaf Hachaim Palachi 27:11 who all write that the sweat one emits while preparing for Shabbat is said to erase one's sins from the Heavenly record.
  5. Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin), Kaf Hachaim, OC 250:9.
  6. Shulchan Aruch 250:1
  7. Shir Hashirim Rabba 2:9; Vayikra Rabba 23:6; Kaf Hachaim (Palagi) 36:2, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  8. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:15
  9. Rama 251:2
  10. Gemara Beitza 16b
  11. Rambam Shabbat 30:7, Shulchan Aruch 250:2, Aruch Hashulchan 250:4
  12. Gemara Shabbat 117b, Rosh Shabbat 16:5, Tur and Shulchan Aruch 250:1, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). Mishna Brurah and Aruch Hashulchan 250:1 write that this is to commemorate that the manna fell in the desert early Friday morning.
  13. Gemara Shabbat 117b writes that a person should get up early on Friday to prepare for Shabbat. This is also the opinion of Shulchan Aruch 250:1. Mishna Brurah 250:2 (based on Magen Avraham 250:1) explains that the reason is that by purchasing food for Shabbat on Friday it's more recognizable that one is preparing for Shabbat than if one were to buy the food on Thursday. So rule Menuchat Ahava (vol 1, 2:1), Aruch Hashulchan 250:2, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:4 and Elya Rabba 250:1.
  14. Nishmat Shabbat 1:101
  15. Pri Megadim Eshel Avraham 250:1, Ben Ish Chai Parashat Lech Lecha 2:6, Shaare Teshuva 250:1, Shulchan Aruch Harav 250:7, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:4, Mishna Brurah 250:2, Kaf Hachaim 250:3.
  16. Ben Ish Chai Parashat Lech Lecha 2:6
  17. Mishna Brurah 250:1, Menuchat Ahava (vol 1, 2:1)
  18. Mishna Brurah 250:1, Pri Megadim Mishbetzot Zahav 250:1, Menuchat Ahava (vol 1, 2:1)
  19. Mishna Brurah 250:2, Kaf HaChaim 250:2, Machatzit Hashekel 250:1, Shulchan Aruch Harav 250:6, Chesed La'alafim 250:6
  20. Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin) quoting Beitza 16a. See also Pesikta Rabati 23.
  21. Mishna Brurah 250:2, Kaf HaChaim 250:4
  22. Rama 242:1
  23. Rav Hershel Schachter on yutorah.org (in first minute) ruled that it's prohibited to bake shlissel challah (key challah) because it's Darkei Emori.
  24. Shulchan Aruch 251:1, Mishna Brurah 251:5
  25. Torat Menachem (Rav Menachem Mendel Shneerson, vol 18, pg 104) discusses the importance of this minhag as a symbol for the coming of Mashiach.
  26. Magen Avraham 250:1 writes that there's a righteous practice to taste the food for Shabbat on Friday in order to know whether it's spiced and tasty. This is quoted by the achronim including Menuchat Ahava (vol 1, 2:3), Aruch Hashulchan, OC 250:4; Kaf Hachaim, OC 250:8; Mishna Brurah 250:2; Rivevot Ephraim 2:115:37. Mishna Brurah 250:2 writes that one should taste the Shabbat food on Friday in order to ensure that the is is tasty and fit for Shabbat. There's a number of source of this custom:
    • A hint for this custom can be found in the Shabbat Mussaf prayers which include the words "Those who taste it will merit long life". Although "taste it" in this context refers to Shabbat observance, poetic license allows these words to be interpreted as referring to the Shabbat foods, as well. There are those who take this teaching quite literally and insist that those who taste the Shabbat foods are assured a long life! (Machzor Vitri 181; Shibolei Haleket 82; Beit Yosef, OC 286, Elya Rabba 250:6)
    • Others suggest that the source for this custom derives from a mishna which enigmatically records that "Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai was given from the foods to taste". Some commentators suggest that this is a reference to the Shabbat foods which Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai would taste every Friday afternoon. (Torah Chaim 250:2 based on Mishna Sukka 26b)
    • It is interesting to note that according to the Zohar, the mitzva of tasting the Shabbat food applies on Friday night and not prior to Shabbat, as most are accustomed to. According to this approach, the reason for tasting the food Friday night is to ensure that the daytime Shabbat foods are tasty.(Zohar, Bereishit 48b.) This opinion is puzzling, however, since once Shabbat has begun all further cooking is forbidden. In most cases it is not even permissible to add spices or do anything else to a food which is cooking on the fire. (Amot Shel Halacha by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
    • There is another, somewhat unfamiliar, explanation for the custom of tasting the Shabbat foods, as well. There are those who suggest that the custom derives from an ancient practice to fast every Friday until shortly before the arrival of Shabbat. As fasting on a Friday is generally forbidden, the custom of tasting the Shabbat foods close to the onset of Shabbat was born. In this way, through the requirement to taste the Shabbat foods Friday afternoon, those who were fasting could rest assured that their fast didn’t accidentally extend into Shabbat, which would be forbidden. So too, it ensures that one will not enter Shabbat in a state of discomfort or outright hunger. In fact, in some communities this tasting ritual was known as the "boi kalla" meal. (Aseh Lecha Rav 3:14)
  27. Mateh Moshe 408. The kabbalists were especially diligent to taste the Shabbat food on Erev Shabbat, comparing it to the exacting preparations one undertakes in order to properly prepare for the arrival of an important guest.(Shulchan Aruch Ha'arizal 260:5; Pri Eitz Chaim, Shaar 18:3; Shaar Hakavanot, Tevilat Erev Shabbat)
  28. In fact, it might be a greater display of honor to Shabbat not to taste such food beforehand and to rather save the gastronomic pleasure exclusively for Shabbat itself.
  29. Nimukei Orach Chaim 250
  30. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 42:61
  31. Yalkut Yosef Moadim (Dinei Yemey Tisha Bav no. 30)
  32. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 42:61
  33. Yosef Ometz, Minhagei Frankfurt 576
  34. Magen Avraham, OC 250:1; Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 250:8
  35. Piskei Teshuvot 250:1
  36. Mishna Brurah 260:1, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). The Elya Rabba 262:6 explains that the reason that one should shower later rather than earlier is because we are taught that the pleasure one derives from a shower and being clean is only appreciated an hour or so afterwards. Delaying the shower closer to Shabbat will ensure that one enjoys this pleasure on Shabbat itself.
  37. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 260:1; Beiur Halacha 260 s.v. “Bechamin” and "Lechof Harosh". But see Devar Chevron 2:229
  38. Shabbat 61a; Mishna Brurah 2:7, 260:1; Be'er Moshe 3:1; Ben Ish Chai (Vayishlach 17), Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). The Ta’amei Haminhagim 249 writes that this pre-Shabbat wash is known in kabbalistic circles to assist in removing sins from one’s soul.
  39. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:12, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). See also Yosef Ometz 565
  40. Shulchan Aruch 260:1
  41. Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin), Mekor Chaim (Chavot Ya'ir) 260
  42. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 252:7; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:23; Aruch Hashulchan, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 252:18, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  43. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 262:2 and 3, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  44. Mishna Brurah 262:8, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  45. Shulchan Aruch 262:1. The gemara Shabbat 119b quoted by Tur 249 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:7 writes that two angels walk a person home from shul one bad and one good. If the table is set, the good angel says it should be like this the next week and the bad angel answers amen. If the table is not set then the bad angel says it should be like this next week and the good angel answer amen.
  46. Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  47. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 249:1, Yabia Omer, OC 2:14:6, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  48. Mishna Brurah 249:7, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  49. Machzor Vitri 191
  50. Mishna Brurah 250:3, Kaf Hachaim 250:11
  51. Kaf Hachaim 250:15
  52. Kaf Hachaim 250:14