Sabbath Meditation: The Order of Shabbat

Shabbat shalom! As I speak I smell the cookies baking and the pot roast cooking for Saturday lunch in the crockpot. A guest came over early and just recently finished baking a carrot cake for later tonight to eat at an appropriate time well after the meal is finished. I’m about to start grilling some hamburgers and hotdogs for a casual Shabbat dinner (sometimes we can get more excited about burgers than roast chicken!).

I hope you are doing something fun tonight. We’ll have fifteen people over (but nine of them are just my family, so it’s not as big a group as it might sound). If you’re with family or even if you’re alone for Shabbat tonight, sanctify it. Make it special.

My topic tonight is working toward a more complete Shabbat observance . . .

Many Messianic folk that I know, and this is true of me for many years as well, do a very abbreviated Shabbat order of service. The highly simplified Shabbat meal that I learned went as follows:

1. The woman of the home blesses the candlelighting.
2. The man of the home blesses the wine and everyone drinks.
3. The man of the home blesses the bread and everyone eats a piece.
4. Eat the meal.
5. Do whatever afterward.

Now, this is a nice ceremony and if this is all you are ready for, you are still sanctifying the Sabbath. By all means, do this.

To learn more about Shabbat, I recommend two things. First, get Shabbat: The Family Guide to Preparing for and Celebrating the Sabbath by Dr. Ron Wolfson (available at – Get It Here). Second, learn the additional prayers. One easy way is to go to where you will find the Shalom Aleikhem (do Version 1) and the Kiddush-Erev Shabbat.

We all ought to grow in our traditional observance of Shabbat. Below is an order of service for a complete Shabbat Seder:
1. Preparing for Shabbat in advance (start early in the week by purchasing what you need for Friday and Saturday).
2. Candlelighting prayer.
3. Shalom Aleikhem (a song of thanks to angels who watch over us).
4. Family blessings (husband blesses the wife and the children; there can also be a blessing for the husband).
5. Kiddush-Erev Shabbat (this is more than simply the Boray Peree HaGoffin and many Messianics have not yet learned the full prayer and its melody).
6. Washing the Hands (pouring water over them and reciting a prayer). After this, all are silent until the bread is blessed and eaten.
7. Blessing over the bread.
8. The meal itself.
9. Sabbath songs: “Shabbat Shalom” is a must and Messianics know “It Is Good” based on Psalm 93. We also sing “David Melekh,” the Carlebach song.
10. Grace After Meals (Birkhat HaMazon, also available at

You can get all these prayers in a Siddur or a Bencher. There is a good Reform Jewish bencher available at (just search “bencher” and you’ll find Birkon Mikdash M’at). There are some Conservative benchers available also. In my experience, the Orthodox ones are hard for beginners to use.

So, study up. Start learning. Shabbat is worthy of study and you’ll appreciate the depth added to your home as you recite more of the prayers and truly sanctify this awesome weekly holiday.

A great nightcap to the evening is a little musical worship or dancing (use a CD if no one plays and instrument or knows Jewish music) and Torah reading and conversation.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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