The simple answer to this question is: No. Preparation day, Day of Preparation, or Prep Day is NOT a commanded day that needs to be honored, memorialized, or dedicated to Yahweh according to scripture. Scripture does not say, “Thou shalt prepare on Preparation Day.”
But, the Sabbath is a commandment from Yahweh on which scripture says we are not to work. Yahweh commands that you should not do any servile work on the Sabbath which means none of your normal daily work or employment. The question is, though, what of someone who is not employed outside the home? What of those who are stay-at-home moms or dads? Should they put aside their daily “work” just as those who work outside the home do, or is their daily “work” not truly work?
Much of what needs to be done to get ready for a day of rest is laborious - there is the cooking, cleaning, lawn care, organizing, laundry, and more, especially for a larger family. Clearly, staying at home can be just as much work during your day and week as that of someone who is employed outside the home. Because of this, the daily tasks of a wife, mother, or father who is a home-keeper can be considered their daily WORK. Wouldn’t it truly be a blessing for the stay at home person to be able to not do any of that on Shabbat, to be able to truly rest? For that to happen, a home would need to be prepared for Shabbat in every way humanly possible. Thus the term “Preparation Day” is used for that day before Shabbat when all the work is done that will allow everyone in the family to rest on Shabbat (husband, wife, and children).
Now, although there is no specific commandment for a “Prep Day” in scripture, there are scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that show there is a need to be prepared for Sabbath, and, there are days of preparation that are mentioned in the bible. There are also specific preparations which are commanded at certain times.
Where? Well, let’s start with the Exodus.
1. Moses was told to have the people prepare for the Passover. Exodus 12 has many instructions that Moses was given by Yahweh for the Israelites so they would be ready for what was to come.
2. Moses was told to teach the people to prepare for the Sabbath by gathering enough manna on the sixth day to feed their household for two days. And we can see this in Exodus 16:22-23. It happened that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one, and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. He said to them, "This is that which Yahweh has spoken, 'Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake that which you want to bake, and boil that which you want to boil; and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.'" This is a great example of a weekly Sabbath Prep day in ancient times.
3. Before the Feast of Unleavened bread, we are commanded to prepare our homes by removing the leaven. Exodus 12:15
4. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (the Gospels) all talk of the Day of Preparation before Yeshua’s crucifixion and death. By using these examples, it’s easy to see that it is important for our homes and all who live there to be ready to fulfill the weekly Sabbaths and Sabbaths which accompany the Feasts. Think of how much more restful your weekly Sabbath would be if you were able to truly rest and spend time with Yahweh and the Word, rather than be concerned for any of your family’s needs.
How can you do this? By following the example of what Yahweh commanded the Israelites to do in ancient times: Be prepared!
Now, many families believe that all of the preparations must be done on that day before the Sabbath. Have you ever found that it is difficult to get it all squeezed into that one day? I do – and there are only two of us! The challenge is even more complicated and exhausting for someone who has several children to tend to as well.
Here is what I do:
I learned a couple years ago: Winter is my enemy. The days are so very short. Some weeks, no matter what I do, it seems there are not enough hours in the day. With sunset coming at around 4:15 PM here in the mountains, winters taught me that we need to get as much done through the week as humanly possible. That is when I decided to make some changes to reduce the stress of trying to “do it all” before sundown on Friday.
Sunday and Thursday I try to get all the laundry done – washed, dried, folded and put away. I often will do dusting on these days, too, because laundry pretty much washes and dries itself. So while the machines are running I do other things to maximize the effort. This is also a great time to squeeze in some baking! Yum!
Tuesday and Wednesday I like to get as much of the dusting and bathroom cleaning accomplished as possible. A lot of times you can whip out a bathroom right before you jump in the shower. Then as you shower, you are rinsing down the stall so that it’s spotless! Mutli-tasking helps. I always try to accomplish room by room so that I know which rooms have been finished. Thursday I will vacuum the carpets, then sweep and mop the kitchen. This all helps me so that on Friday, pretty much all I have to do is cook, which I try to get done as quickly as possible so that I can run a quick broom or microfiber sweeper tool around to wipe away any final spills or messes I made that day. Then when sundown comes, I can breathe a sigh of relief and rest!
The week takes a bit more planning during gardening, harvest, and canning seasons. I still try to spread things out so that Friday is not packed so full that I am exhausted and can't enjoy time with my husband and relax in Yahweh's Shalom.
Often times I see sisters who get overly concerned about having to do it all on Prep Day before sunset. There is no way Jim and I could accomplish everything our home needs in 8 or so hours and cook all our Shabbat meals as well. If we find it challenging, I can only imagine how difficult it would be for a family to try and squeeze it all in before Sundown.
Doing things throughout the week also helps on those rare occasions when we have no choice but to run to town on Friday or deal with something when something throws us a curve. My hope is that this will give you some ideas on how to organize your week as well as explain more clearly about Prep Day, so that your Sabbath is more restful and peaceful.
PS: Jim wanted me to share his favorite tip to make Prep Day even easier for us (for ME!):
Make your Prep Day extra special by ordering your favorite takeout for Friday evening and Saturday meals. Buy your favorite snacks and drinks and enjoy the day. This eliminates cooking and clean-up, plus kids will look forward to Shabbat every week. This is a great way to build lasting family traditions. Rotate weekly. One week can be Pizza Friday, another can be tacos, and another BBQ Chicken Friday -- You get the idea. Cut down on the cooking and make Shabbat different from the rest of the days in the week. Just remember to purchase enough takeout and snacks for Friday evening and Saturday for lunch and dinner. Breakfast can be leftovers, hardboiled eggs, sandwiches, bagels, cold cereals, or something toasted, etc. You can adjust this idea to your families needs and abilities. Just a great way to give mom a break and not accumulate a lot of dishes for mom to wash after Shabbat.
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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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