Exodus 16:22-24 Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, "This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning." So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it.…
Recently, in a panic, a sweet sister asked about these verses in Exodus. Her family was concerned deeply that they could not even boil water for tea or rewarm a pot of soup for Shabbat, and had concluded that baking or re-heating a casserole is strictly forbidden based on these verses. After much study, here are our thoughts about these verses and the terminology in question.
These scripture verses in Exodus appear to mainly apply to the requirements for the children of Israel in the wilderness when it comes to gathering, preparing and eating the manna. It does not appear to be directed to ALL of Yahweh's followers through out our generations. Many commandments which are given, such as feast days (See Day of Atonement Leviticus 23:31), include a statement that they are to be done for generations. These verses appear to deal specifically with handling the manna.
One thing to note is that the wording in it is not 100% clear whether they boiled and baked ALL their manna on the sixth day, and then saved the leftover cooked foods for Shabbat meals, or if they only cooked and boiled what they ate that day, saving the "raw" manna for Shabbat. Either way, there appears to be no clear commandment in these verses that says, “Thou shalt not. . .” when it comes to boiling or baking food on the Shabbat (Sabbath). It is also not something that appears to be forbidden ‘throughout your generations’, or ‘forever” as many other things are commanded. We therefore take the stance that baking or boiling an already prepared meal during Shabbat is acceptable for meals.
That being said, we ARE commanded to not labor or work on Shabbat, and to make it a day of rest.
Exodus 20:9-10 clearly states, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.”
Leviticus 23:3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
It is important to note that Torah for Women believes and teaches the Hebrew word used that is translated into the English word "work" in these verses would mean work that is done for your job or employment. We also recommend, as well, that any strenuous labor around the home, such as lawn mowing, laundry, cleaning, car repairs and such be put off as well. Our conclusion from scriptures is that these do not meet the description of rest that is also commanded for Sabbath observance.
Because the big question posed to us, though, addressed boiling and baking on the Shabbat, we felt it would be helpful to give some suggestions that we use at home to make our Sabbath day easier, while still being able to enjoy our meals. Remember, these are just ideas and are not commandments or written in stone. It is our hope that what these ideas may do is spark more creative ways for easing your life during the Shabbat to make it more restful, and filled with Shabbat SHALOM!
The first thing we have made into a habit is to start thinking about the next Shabbat as soon as possible in the week. Usually Sunday or Monday I start planning meals for Friday and Saturday so that we can pick up any additional groceries early. This ensures that prep day won’t be stressed with the additional task of shopping and putting away groceries. We also address any cleaning or yard work as soon as possible as well, and try to complete this by Thursday night. I often wiggle my laundry days around to fall on Monday and Thursday rather than Friday so that I can focus more on what is needed for Shabbat on prep day.
This leaves just the biggest task for us to do on Friday before sundown as making sure we have meals prepared in advance. We like to make sure that as much preparation as is possible is completed so that all we need to do on Sabbath is re-heat meals or assemble them at the table from already prepared ingredients.
For reheating foods, we have several different appliances we use depending upon what we are serving. Rice cooker, crockpots, and even our stove top or oven work well for just slipping foods in and allowing them to warm while we rest and read. Good ideas for easy serving would be soups, one-dish crockpot meals, casseroles, or sandwiches. Even cold cereals for breakfasts, because they are just pour and eat. Another favorite is to make some yogurt and oatmeal parfaits, then let them sit overnight in single serving containers. Each person can grab one in the morning as they get hungry. Sometimes I make muffins and we eat those for breakfast, or baked oatmeal. Hard boiled eggs are good, too, to go with any of these or to be eaten alone. I have also been known to whip up chicken salad or egg salad to be eaten on bread or even rolled in lettuce for breakfast. I will even slice and dice all vegetables or fruits we plan to eat, and place in containers for easy serving. All these preparations can be done in advance and then meals are eaten with as little work as necessary on Shabbat.
Many families prefer to make Friday until Sundown their official prep day for Sabbath and spend the day doing all their cleaning and preparation, while I prefer to spread things out a bit over the week. You will know which works best for you. Always remember, Prep Day is not the commanded day, by any means, and that Shabbat is. Having a day set aside for preparations, though, certainly helps alleviate a lot of stress or concern from the Sabbath and allows for more rest and time in prayer and studying the Word.
Other examples of what our Shabbat meals might include:
Friday morning, mix up TWO quiches - one for that day’s brunch and one to reheat Shabbat morning. Cooking one for the entire baking time means it can be eaten right away, while the other one is baked just until the egg is thoroughly cooked, but quiche is not browned. That way I can reheat it in the morning, browning the top nicely. I make sure that all the coffee is ground for morning, and that all water pitchers are filled on prep day, too. This means I don’t need to worry if there is enough filtered water for everyone to drink during the day. We don’t have an automatic ice maker, so I will also ensure that all our trays have been cracked and refilled.
For dinners and snacks: grilled chicken salad sandwiches with chopped lettuce, sliced tomato, and onions. These also can be used as a snack. I might also wash a couple of sweet potatoes or potatoes in case we get hungry in the afternoon Saturday, or maybe fix a huge bowl of chopped mixed fruits. The potatoes can just be tossed in the hot oven to bake and each person can serve theirs the way they like. For Shabbat dinner, I like to spice up chicken breast Friday early, and let it marinate a bit, then cook it before sundown either in the oven or in a fry pan. We often toss it into some salad greens with oil and vinegar. If it is cold weather, we love to have a big pot of soup and either just reheat it on the stove or put it in the crockpot and slow cook it throughout the day on Shabbat. Some casseroles are great made ahead and then just baked quickly for dinners, too. I have several recipes for chicken and rice style casseroles, pasta casseroles, Tex-Mex casseroles, or even Lasagna can be made ahead, partially baked, and reheated to finish baking on Shabbat.
A big complaint we hear from some sisters is the leftover dishes and mess when the sun sets on Saturday. I have seen photos of homes where toys, books, clothing, and dishes have been left laying around in an effort to ensure the day is “restful."
Three simple questions to ask yourself:
Is this restful for mom (and sometimes even dad) to look at this mess all day long getting bigger and bigger and bigger? Especially knowing that the likely candidate for clean-up after sundown is mom or dad.
Would you tolerate your home being left a mess like that any other day of the week?
Then why tolerate it on Shabbat?
Spring time is a great time of year to drum this one into ourselves. Sun sets around 9:00 pm in the US. How late do mom and dad wish to stay up washing dishes and putting things away? It is not work to simply pick up after yourself. In fact, it is common sense.
If someone gets out books or toys, they should put them away. If you spill something, wipe it up. If someone dirties a dish, they should grab a soapy sponge, wash it off, rinse it and place it in the dish rack. Simple. There are so many other easy solutions for keeping cleanup down to a minimum at the end of Shabbat. Another idea for dishes, if you have a dishwasher: just make sure it is empty as late as possible on Friday, and have everyone scrape their dishes, then place the dirties in there. They can collect all day and it can be run Saturday after sundown. Little children, of course, might need an older sibling or parent to help with these dish ideas, but it is still less stressful this way than to wait to clean an entire kitchen later in the evening. When all else fails, paper products work great too.
We know these ideas might not work for everyone, but maybe they will help you create new habits that will work for your family. Each home IS different and has individual needs that must be met. Our hope is to help you relax, and enjoy preparing for your Sabbath as much as you will enjoy the rest you get on that day.
Blessings and Shalom!
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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