Dressing up for Shabbat (Part I)

May 22, 2013

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Shabbat message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter.  Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, May 24, 2013.

Dressing up for Shabbat (Part I)

You can wear absolutely anything on Shabbat. However, the age-old custom is to get particularly dressed up in honor of this, the holiest of the Jewish holidays. In fact, in Israel, the expression “Bigdei Shabbat” (Shabbat Clothes) has come to mean fine clothing – even if you’re wearing them on a weekday!

In the 16th Century, in Tsfat, the center of mysticism in Northern Israel, the rabbis would dress themselves in white – and go into the fields to greet the “Shabbat Queen.” This practice of wearing white on Shabbat – especially on Friday nights, is a mainstay of many Jewish communities world-wide, and is a common way of celebrating the Sabbath at many Jewish summer camps!

A famous children’s story, “Hanna’s Shabbos Dress,” is published in many versions and is included in the PJ Library collection. It tells the story of the complications in a child’s life, when her Shabbat dress gets dirty! So many children know this story – and it reinforces the notion of the importance of looking great on Shabbat (although, actually . . . the moral of the story is that sometimes there are things that are more important than what you’re wearing!).

So . . . when you observe Shabbat, think about what you’re wearing. What’s most important to you. Looking special? Being comfortable? Formality? Informality? Let your attire reflect your approach to Shabbat.

Coming soon: More on dressing up for Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom