Shabbat at Home

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After attending synagogue, whether inviting a guest or friend home, being invited to someone else's house, or sitting down to a meal with one's family or even alone, it is also traditional to enjoy a full Shabbat lunchtime meal similar to the Friday evening repast. Shabbat afternoon is a time reserved for reading, sleeping, talking, walking, or studying Jewish texts, all activities that we often claim that we never have enough time to do. And before sunset, to ensure three full meals, traditional Jews enjoy a third meal in the late afternoon (either at home or in the synagogue), appropriate individual prayers or synagogue services, and the conclusion of Shabbat.

Because Shabbat is considered a foretaste of the idyllic World to Come, Jewish tradition discourages ending Shabbat at the earliest possible moment. Traditionally determined by the appearance of three stars in the night sky, Shabbat's departure is marked by the ceremony of havdalah ("division"), which includes blessings over wine, spices or fragrant vegetation, and a multi-wicked candle. Many Jewish communities delay the celebration of the conclusion of Shabbat until later in the evening with a festive gathering known as a melaveh malkah, literally meaning "accompanying the [Shabbat] Queen." Envisioned symbolically as a queen, Shabbat is escorted away with song and delicacies.

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