Preparing for Shabbat

Getting ready for the arrival of the Sabbath Queen.

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run a jewish householdBefore Shabbat begins, it is a custom to put some money into a pushke, a charity box. Nowadays, tzedakah (charity) being a bigger business, what with appeals, dinners, guests of honor, checks, and IRS deductions, this custom of slipping a few coins into a slotted tin box is of less impact. Yet, it is a sweet thing for children to observe, to do, and to learn from. And it's one more act associated with the special preparations for Shabbat.

Some people also are able to set aside time to meditate, or study quietly before Shabbat. These are wonderful ways to pre­pare spiritually for the day. My husband often studies his daily quota of Talmud right before Shabbat. Somehow, I never have the time or discipline to distance myself this way until the very last minute. Perhaps this is my conditioning as a woman who, like most women, has been largely responsible for the physical preparations in the home, and who gleans the sense of sacred­ness and holiness from those endeavors; but for those who can get themselves spiritually as well as physically ready, there is a different foretaste altogether of Shabbat.

In as much as one should review the biblical portion of the week at least once before it is read in shul [synagogue] on Shabbat morning, this is an excellent subject for quiet study on a Friday afternoon.

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Ari Goldman

Ari L. Goldman, one of the nation's leading religion journalists, is a professor of journalism at Columbia University and the author of three books, including the best-selling The Search for God at Harvard.

Blu Greenberg

Blu Greenberg is the founding president of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. She was also the Conference Chair of both the first and second International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy. She is the author of Black Bread: Poems After the Holocaust, How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household, and On Women and Judaism: A View From Tradition.