The Sabbath

Click on the Festivals menu to see in more detail what is enjoined on the Sabbath, and what is forbidden.

Followers of the Way recognise that the Sabbath was created as a benefit for human beings, not the other way round (Sefer Yeshua‘, passage 61:2), and that: “Humanity has dominion even over the Sabbath” (SY p. 62:1).

The Sabbath is a benefit and a right, not an imposed burden. It was given so that we might refresh ourselves (Ex 31:15, 23:12). We are set free from our labours; it enables housewives, and even servants and people who do the most menial jobs to rest, and take their delight in YHVH’s Sabbath. Even the animals who serve us are allowed to rest, emphasising the universality of YHVH’s blessing.

The Sabbath as a reminder

The Sabbath is meant to be a reminder of three things:

  • the Covenant
  • the Exodus from Egypt
  • Creation

During the Talmidi home service for the Sabbath, we call to mind these three things by reading the passages connected with them.

What if someone cannot rest on the Sabbath?

While the ideal and goal is always towards getting everyone to rest on the Sabbath, we recognise that in modern life, some people are unable to rest because of their line of work. If a person is unable to leave one job to get a job that allows them to observe the Sabbath, then all is not lost. We do not believe that God would punish someone for something that is not their fault. Therefore, in keeping with the Talmidi ethos to reach out to everyone and include people who would otherwise be cast outside of the religious community, we have suggestions on how someone can still participate in the Sabbath: 

  • the Sabbath is to be holy; therefore, we encourage people to do something which sets this day apart from all the other days of the week. For example, eat food that you do not normally eat the rest of the week; dress in smart clothing; try to avoid thinking about any worries – give yourself a rest from those at least!
  • The Sabbath is also meant to be a day dedicated to YHVH. Therefore, try to spend as many moments in prayer and communion with God as possible. Read Torah and any prayers designed for the Sabbath; and take every opportunity, in your mind, to bless and praise YHVH, our Heavenly Father.
  • Do not spend any money on the Sabbath, and do not travel anywhere unnecessarily on the Sabbath. 

Talmidi traditions surrounding the Sabbath

The lighting of candles is not part of the Sabbath observance, since we are forbidden to kindle flame on the Sabbath. It only became part of Rabbinic observance as a reaction against Karaite observance, which is to have no light whatsoever on the Sabbath.

Therefore, about half an hour before sunset, one or more candles (the number is also not fixed) is lit to signal the closing of the last hours of the Sixth Day. When it is completely dark, then the Sabbath prayers and meal begin.

Some people like to start the prayers at a set time throughout the year. Others observe it more strictly. In this case, during the summer months, when darkness falls late, a light snack is eaten in the early evening to ward off hunger – any negative associations with the Sabbath are to be avoided at all costs. 

Once the prayers begin, the beginning of the Sabbath is sanctified with prayer. We remember the Covenant, the Exodus and Creation; we recall our history with YHVH; we include all Israelites – even the childless and Godfearers – in our family on the Sabbath; we break bread for fellowship, we eat our meal, we bless God for the meal, and we drink wine to close the meal. 

The Sabbath is also about family and community, so on this day we try to gather with others, and if this is not possible, we connect with them in prayer and in spirit. We spend time with family or friends wherever possible.

It is hoped that, once we have a synagogue, those who can attend synagogue will be able to spend most fo their day there. A common meal will be eaten after the service, enabling especially the poorest in the community to eat well. This fixes in our minds that YHVH is the provider of our food, and that everyone can feel blessed in this manner.

At the end of the Sabbath, once it is dark, we have prayers for the going out of the Sabbath (motsa’ey shabbat in Hebrew). This in effect is our havdalah, although we don’t call it that. It is based on ancient tradition, where light is enkindled (since it is something that is not allowed on the Sabbath), fragrant incense is burnt, and wine is drunk. Prayers are said emphasising God’s holiness.

Click on the Festivals menu to see in more detail what is enjoined on the Sabbath, and what is forbidden.