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Shabbat afternoon

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“It is not necessary to be an observant Jew to appreciate the full historic and sacred aura that enshrines this ‘perfect gift' called Shabbat. Its prohibitions are not arbitrary. They provide insulation against corrosive everydayness, they build fences against invasions by the profane, and they enrich the soul by creating a space for sacred time. In a word, one need not be pious to accept the cherished principle of Shabbat. One merely needs to be a proud Jew.”
– Menachem Begin

Celebrating Shabbat

Be warned! All this relaxing and time out might make you drowsy. A Shabbat afternoon nap is not mandatory, but highly recommended. Catch up on reading, play a game, take a walk in the park.

“No driving, no cellphones, no screens. It was a beautiful opportunity to talk to each other instead of walking past each other in the passage while looking at our phones. We played a board game – I can’t even remember the last time we did that. This Shabbat brought us together as a family in a way we don’t normally get to experience because everyone’s generally doing their own thing.”
– Martine Vogelman, Cape Town

Those with little kids sometimes play tag (the adults, not the kids!) – taking turns to have a Shabbat nap – or they try to get their kids to take an afternoon nap with them. Teenagers celebrate the day by playing ball or board games. They meet each other on the road to venture off to the park, or hop from house to house for the afternoon. Tweens often participate in youth movements, or have their parents take them to hang out with friends. And the grown-ups abandon their Kindles and pick up a hard copy magazine or book.

What games can kids play on Shabbat?

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We’ve made a list of our favourite household games which don’t include writing. Try them, or add your own:

  • Ping-pong
  • Cards (Speed, Rummy, Solitaire, Casino, President, Donkey, Rat-a-Tat-Cat... or whatever it’s called where you come from)
  • Fun basketball or soccer line-up games
  • Board games (Backgammon, 30 Seconds)
  • UNO/Taki
  • Bananagrams
  • Lego or magna tiles
  • Jump rope

      The Third Meal

      “The Third Meal before you say goodbye to Shabbos is the deepest of all. It’s when you say goodbye to the One you love that it’s clear to you how much He means to you. Our holy rabbis teach us that all day, Shabbos is just Shabbos. The Third Meal is Shabbos and Yom Kippur. It’s a must for everyone to spend the last hour of Shabbos feeling the deepest emotion.”
      – Shlomo Carlebach

      We start to eat the third meal, or Seudat Shlishit, in the late afternoon, after mincha, the Shabbat afternoon prayer service, and before sunset. As Shabbat slowly slips away, the mood has a degree of sombreness to it. But at the same time, it is also uplifting. The mystics refer to these moments as the holiest of Shabbat.

      This is the most significant of the three meals in the sense that it honors Shabbat by adding something extra to our day. We don’t eat because we are hungry – we eat to honor Shabbat itself. There is no Kiddush for this meal, but we do wash and eat bread, sing some beautiful Seudat Shlishit songs and say Birkat Hamazon when it is over.

      Take the time to reflect on your unique Shabbat experience.

      “There were hundreds of people, from every nook and cranny of the surrounding suburbs, gathered in clumps on blankets to pass the time in a close-to-Eden paradisiacal garden of delight. The third meal laid out on paper plates on the grass. It was as if time itself had stopped and children moved in slow motion to the sounds of the softly running stream beneath the comforting weeping willows. This was Shabbat. This was emotional connectedness. This was special. This was magic in all its technicoloured glory. There was no way anyone was left unmoved.”
      – Esther Hecht, Johannesburg