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Three Meals

May 20, 2016

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, May 20, 2016.

Three Meals

It’s a surprise to no one that eating on Shabbat is a long-standing tradition. Jews and food, of course, are inseparable! Most of our holidays include meals at home, and many holidays, including the Sabbath, have particular foods associated with them. One of the traditional zmirot (songs) sung at the Sabbath table tells us that we are supposed to eat all kinds of delicacies:

Enjoy yourselves with all sorts of enjoyments – Swans and quail and fish.

According to tradition, we are required to eat three meals on Shabbat! Shabbat dinner on Friday night is the first and usually rather elaborate. It’s a time to invite people, eat lots of food, and sing songs. Lunch too is often an elaborate affaire, and Se’uda Shlishit, a “third meal” is eaten late on Saturday before the sun sets. You’ll notice that breakfast is not in this list! People eat breakfast, of course, but it doesn’t count as one of the three Sabbath meals. See more about this next week!

Part of the tradition is to invite people to your Sabbath table – a constant in the traditional communities. Even people with few resources consider it a mitzvah to have special meals on the Sabbath.  Israeli writer Shmuel Yosef Agnon won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966. In one of his famous stories, “The Penny,” a poor man fantasizes about having money to purchase food on Shabbat. If I only had a penny, he thinks, “I would buy two or three raisins and make wine for Kiddush (the prayer over wine) or I’d get some white bread or something else to help me enjoy the Sabbath.”

So... tonight, on Sabbath Eve, eat something special!

Shabbat Shalom