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26. Chapter 8k: Jewish Geography: Shabbos: Friday Evening Meal

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          Friday Evening Meal

          When everyone has returned from shul, the family gathers around the "set table" and sings two songs: ‘Sholom Aleichem’ - Welcoming the angels that accompany them home and Aishes Chayil - a song in praise of the Jewish woman.

          The meal itself then begins as the man of the house sanctifies the day of Shabbos by reciting Kiddush (the sanctification blessing) over a full cup of wine.  Typically everyone is given a small amount of this wine to drink.

          Everyone then makes their way to the sink in order to ritually wash their hands (Netilas Yadayim) before eating the special Shabbos ‘challah’ (bread). Because these two activities are related - ritual washing of the hands and eating challah - speaking between them is prohibited until you have eaten some of challah.  After the ritual washing of hands and its accompanying blessing, the man of the house recites the HaMotzi blessing over the challah, cuts the challah, puts some salt on it and distributes it to everyone at the table.

          At this point, most of the rituals are completed and the evening gives way to the serious business of indulging your appetite with various culinary delights. This feast is usually punctuated with singing and discussion of the week's Torah portion and will probably last a good deal longer than any other dinner you have attended.

          After dessert and before wondering how and why you ate so much, the concluding blessings called birkat hamazon (grace-after-meals) are recited.  Here also, it is well advised for a beginner to make use of a bentscher (booklet containing grace-after-meals) that includes an English translation and transliteration in order to understand and appreciate these blessings.

          The remainder of the evening’s activities is varied, but all are pretty "laid back".  Many Jews are quite content to slip into bed early and take advantage of the restful nature of Shabbos.  Others will study Torah or just relax and talk with friends and or family; something the rest of week rarely, if ever, seems to allow.

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COM_EASYBLOG_GUEST Saturday, 21 October 2017
Last updated on: 10/21/2017
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