Shabbat Preparation, Step 1

Sometimes we speak of Shabbat as “a taste of the world to come.” But what does that mean? Specifically, what does it mean for you and those in your household?

Whether your household is shomer Shabbes [traditionally observant] or just beginning to think about the idea of Shabbat, this is a question we can ask: what would a perfect world be like? And how can we arrange to make 24 hours of it in our home?

It might involve traditional observance.┬áTo learn more about that, go to the Orthodox Union’s guide for keeping Shabbat. It might mean some modification of traditional Shabbat, or even a new approach to Shabbat.

But before you engage in a lot of activity, ask yourself: what would my home be like, in a perfect world? What would the relationships in it be like? What would I be like? And that will tell you a lot of things: it will tell you what preparations you need to make for Shabbat, and it will guide you in the things you need to let go of for Shabbat.

When I prepare for Shabbat, I try to make sure we have good things to eat. I like for things to be beautiful and clean, although sometimes “cleaner than usual” has to fill the bill. On a deeper level, I long for it to be an environment without stupid arguments – and to get that, I have to let go of my end of the stupid arguments, for 24 hours. I long for it to be a time for enjoying relationships with family and friends, so I need to do everything in my power to remove impediments to that, which means I must let go of my desire to control other people’s behavior, for 24 hours.

What do you do to prepare for Shabbat? What do you need in your home for Shabbat?

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

2 thoughts on “Shabbat Preparation, Step 1”

  1. There is a story (sexist, but ignore that and get the good part) that when a husband comes home on Friday evening if he sees the table set and ready for Shabbat the good angel says Amen. If, when he arrives, things are not ready, then the evil angel says Amen. For some reason my heart always went out to the ‘evil’ angel. Perhaps he just got picked for a rotten job. So I prefer to think that when my home is ready for Shabbat by sundown that the ‘evil’ angel gets the night off.

    I ALWAYS make challah. The entire house if filled with the sweet odor of baking bread. (We just finished Tu Bishvat which teaches that scent is the highest level of creation, Atzilut. I think it’s true.) I like to have a white tablecloth, wine, & the candles. I think if you make that your goal – take as long as needed to get there, but once you’ve got that, it’s pretty heavenly.

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