What were the Sabbath Laws?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Sabbath laws are a series of laws governing what is acceptable and unacceptable on the Sabbath.  They may differ somewhat for different religions, so I will focus on the Sabbath laws for Jewish people.  In Judaism, the Sabbath laws regulate what one can and can’t do from sundown Friday until about an hour after sundown on Saturday. For example, no work is permitted. This includes cooking, carrying, and driving. One must refrain from using electronic devices and from turning lights on and off.  There are 39 prohibited activities on the Sabbath. There are also some requirements that people are obligated to fulfill.  A person should attend services in the synagogue on Friday night, Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon/evening.  A person is required to say Kiddush, which is the sanctification of the wine on Friday night and on Saturday.  People have at least two, and possibly three, festive meals.  All of the meals should include bread, which is normally challah or egg bread.  Generally, the Friday night and Saturday lunch meals are larger meals (and often involve meat) while the Saturday afternoon/evening meal (called the Third Meal) is much lighter. It is recommended that people do some form of Torah study of the Sabbath.  Family and friends often gather for the meals and to just spend time together free from the normal daily distractions.  The day is meant to be one of spiritual renewal, a time for family and friends, and a day free from the rigors and demands of the other six days of the week. These are some of the highlights of the laws and customs of the Sabbath for the Jewish religion.

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