Spending Sacred Time Together

Yael Eckstein  |  October 24, 2022

Yael and her family on Shabbat having dinner

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. — Exodus 20:8

At the very heart of Judaism is the Sabbath — the only ritual ordained in the Ten Commandments. In a world where there are so many distractions, it is imperative to learn about and cherish the one day a week set aside for rest and contemplation, a day Jews call Shabbat. This series of devotions explores the many lessons we can learn from this rich observance.

I grew up in a very loving family. Even so, like many families today, we were very busy. My father woke up at 5 a.m. for prayer and Bible study, so that he could be at the office by 7 a.m. After my mother got us off to school, she went to work as well.

My sisters and I had long days at a school that taught both secular subjects and Jewish studies. In addition, my parents dedicated their time and talents to volunteering in our community. My sisters and I participated in Jewish youth groups and after-school activities.

No matter how busy our weeks were or how much my father had traveled — no matter what — he made it a priority that on Shabbat we were all together as a family. My mother cooked our favorite foods, baked challah (the traditional Sabbath bread), and cleaned our home from top to bottom. As my sisters and I grew older, we loved to participate as well, getting many of our first cooking (and cleaning!) lessons as we helped prepare for the holy day.

We can see the connection between Shabbat and strong family bonds in the Ten Commandments.

Spending Sacred Time Together

Everyone knows that the Sabbath is part of the Ten Commandments. But what’s really interesting to me is where in the Ten Commandments it is.

The first three commandments are all about God. Who He is, how we must believe only in Him, and how we honor Him. The final six commandments are all about our interpersonal lives, beginning with the commandment to honor our parents followed by five ethical prohibitions.

Shabbat is the fourth commandment. It comes right after the commandments about God and right before honoring parents and behaving ethically with our fellow man. This order teaches us an important lesson.

After three commandments relating to God comes the commandment to “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.” We keep Shabbat because God commanded us to do so. That’s where Shabbat comes from.

But where does Shabbat lead? What is the result of Shabbat? The commandment immediately after Shabbat is to “Honor your father and mother …”

As a result of being at home, not working, sitting around the Shabbat table and spending that sacred time together, parents and children have stronger relationships. And I think that’s exactly what God had in mind.

Shabbat time is family time!

Your turn:

Interested in learning more about the Sabbath? Join me on my podcast, Nourish Your Biblical Roots to listen to my five-part series on the Shabbat.