Shabbat is the seventh day of the week. It begins with the appearance of three stars in the sky on Friday, and ends before sunset on Saturday.
Shabbat is considered to be the greatest Jewish holiday; it is a day of rest when all physical work and activities cease. Shabbat is a day dedicated to the family, regardless of whether they spend it at home or go on a picnic. Parents dedicate their free time to their children, telling them stories from the Torah and recounting the activities from the week that has passed.
Shabbat relates to two events in the Torah – the creation of the world and slavery of the Jewish people in Egypt. God created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh – the same pattern is followed by the Jewish people – this is the essence of the religious meaning of Shabbat. The social dimension can be seen in the approach towards servants– the Torah reads “in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant.” Recollections of slavery and suffering are emphasized in order to serve as a reminder that we should never treat anyone in the same manner.
Every Friday before sunset, Jewish women light two Shabbat candles on the table set for Shabbat dinner. This responsibility of women is in accordance with the Jewish concept that the woman is the one who should take care of the home. While lighting the candles, she covers her face and recites a blessing.
Kiddush is the blessing recited over a glass of wine to sanctify the Shabbat, for wine in the Torah is a synonym of joy.