Lighting the Shabbat candles at the Hazon NY Ride & Retreat, 2014(Courtesy of Hazon)

Shabbat Blessings for Friday Night

Lighting the candles, saying Kiddush and other Shabbat dinner rituals.

Like most Jewish observances, Shabbat has a unique liturgy that is recited during communal prayer. But there are also a number of blessings that are traditionally recited in the home on Friday evening.

Blessing over the Candles

The lighting of candles as sunset approaches on Friday is the traditional sign of the arrival of Shabbat. After lighting the candles, it is customary to cover the eyes and recite the following:

בָּרוּך אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם אַשֶׁר קִדְשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶל שַבָּת

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.

Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the universe, who sanctified us with the commandment of lighting Shabbat candles.

Blessing over Wine or Grape Juice (Kiddush)

Some people recite just the regular blessing over wine before the Friday night meal.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם בּורֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, boreh p’ri hagafen

Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

However, the traditional full-length Sabbath evening Kiddush is as follows (English translation can be found here):

וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בקֶר
יום הַשִּׁשִּׁי. וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם
וַיְכַל אֱלהִים בַּיּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּו אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. וַיִּשְׁבּת בַּיּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּו אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה
וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלהִים אֶת יום הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אתו. כִּי בו שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּו אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אֱלהִים לַעֲשׂות
סַבְרִי מָרָנָן וְרַבָּנָן וְרַבּותַי
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם בּורֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם. אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְותָיו וְרָצָה בָנוּ. וְשַׁבַּת קָדְשׁו בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצון הִנְחִילָנוּ. זִכָּרון לְמַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית. כִּי הוּא יום תְּחִלָּה לְמִקְרָאֵי קדֶשׁ זֵכֶר לִיצִיאַת מִצְרָיִם. כִּי בָנוּ בָחַרְתָּ וְאותָנוּ קִדַּשְׁתָּ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים וְשַׁבַּת קָדְשְׁךָ בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצון הִנְחַלְתָּנוּ
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדָנָי מְקַדֵּשׁ הַשַּׁבָּת

(Quietly: Va-y’hee erev, va-y’hee boker.)
Yom ha-shishi. Vay’chulu hashamayim v’ha-aretz v’chol tz’va’am. Vay’chal Elohim bayom hash’vi’i milachto asher asa. Vayishbot bayom hash’vi’i mikol milachto asher asa. Vay’varech Elohim et yom hash’vi’i vay’kadesh oto. Kee vo shabbat mi-kol m’lachto asher bara Elohim la’asot.

Savri maranan v’rabanan v’rabotai. Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri hagafen.

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’ratza vanu, v’shabbat kod’sho b’ahava uv’ratzon hinchilanu, zikaron l’ma’aseh b’reishit. Ki hu yom t’chila l’mikra-ay kodesh, zaycher l’tziat mitzrayim. Ki vanu vacharta v’otanu kidashta mikol ha’amim. V’shabbat kod-shi-cha b’ahava uv’ratzon hinchal tanu. Baruch ata Adonai, mi’kadesh ha Shabbat.

Listen to the Kiddush for Shabbat Evening (courtesy of Mechon Hadar)

Listen to the Kiddush for Festival Evenings

Blessing over Hand Washing (N’tilat Yadayim)

Following Kiddush, it is customary to wash one’s hands prior to continuing the meal. After washing the hands with water from a cup — often twice on the right hand and twice on the left, though precise practices vary — the following blessing is recited:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְותָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and command us concerning the washing of the hands.

Blessing over the Bread (Hamotzi)

After the washing of hands, some people have the custom of remaining silent until bread is eaten. Prior to eating the bread, the following blessing is recited.

בָּרוּך אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם הָמוֹציא לֶחם מן הַארץ

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has brought forth bread from the earth.

Blessing after the Meal (Birkat Hamazon, or Benching)

After the meal, some families have the tradition of reciting Birkat Hamazon (sometimes called benching). This lengthy blessing, whose recitation is required after any meal that includes bread, includes multiple expressions of gratitude to God for providing food and sustenance to the Jewish people. On Shabbat, it is preceded by an additional Psalm and, if three adults (in some traditions, three adult males) have eaten together, by a short invitation to prayer known as a zimmun.

The full text can be found in most bentchers, small booklets containing the blessing after the meal and other festive songs. You can purchase a bentcher here  or at your local Judaica store. They also are frequently distributed at weddings and bar/bat mitzvah celebrations.

Read the full text of Birkat Hamazon in Hebrew and English here.

Listen to the Birkat Hamazon (courtesy of Mechon Hadar)

Other Recitations

There are a number of other songs and blessings that are customary in many homes on Friday night. They include:

Shalom Aleichem

This song welcoming the “angels of peace” is commonly sung at the outset of the meal, prior to the blessing over wine. You can learn more about it and other Shabbat songs (and listen to them) here.

Eshet Hayil (“Woman of Valor”)

Introduced by the Jewish mystics in the 17th century, this melody is sung as a tribute to the woman of the house, normally right after Shalom Aleichem.

Listen to Eshet Chayil (courtesy of Mechon Hadar)

Blessing of the Children

Some parents have the custom of blessing their children on Friday night with words adapted from the priestly blessing.


Singing festive hymns is a common practice at the Shabbat table. There are a number of traditional ones, many of them composed by the ancient Jewish mystics. You can listen to some traditional ones here.

A searchable database of Shabbat song recordings and lyrics can be found here.

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