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of this chapter, pronounces the benediction over the wine, and then gives it to some lads to drink, This chapter read, then follow the ordinary prayers, which terminate with the orphan Kadish, or prayer for the dead. The congregation now go home, wishing each other a “good Shabbas.”
On arriving at home they find the table prepared with all things necessary for the Sabbath meal, together with salt, a goblet of wine, and the two loaves I have already described. Before eating, the father of the family washes his hands, recites part of the second chapter of Genesis, and pronounces the benediction. During this benediction the two loaves are covered with a napkin, in order not to distract the attention of the speaker. The words of the blessing run thus: “Blessed art Thou, Lord our God! King of the universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine.” During the pronunciation of this blessing the speaker must look at the Shabbas lamp, for the Talmud declares that, “if during the week one loses the fiftieth part of his sight, he can only receive it by looking at the Shabbas lamp, when he speaks the blessing over the wine.” A second benediction now follows: “Blessed art Thou, God, who hast hallowed the Sabbath-day in Israel.” The speaker then drinks first of the wine, and afterwards hands it to the others, who have also to utter a blessing over it as well. The wine having been thus blessed, they proceed to the benediction of the loaves. At every meal two whole loaves are necessary, one placed upon the other. The father of the family lifts up one of them, makes a sign on the other, then lays his hands upon both of them, and says: "Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the world, who hast produced the bread from the earth;". and he then distributes it among his household.
With the Jews, the Sabbath is regarded as a festival-a day on which they are to live rather sumptuously, and be merry; but still a day dedicated to the Lord. In fact, the Rabbis teach that the Sabbath should be divided into two equal parts—half to the service of God, and half to the pleasure of man. For this reason the Jews go early to the synagogue, pray, read, and study in the law, and then return hone to eat. After the evening meal, they again attend the synagogue, and afterwards sit down to supper.
Accordingly, their table remains prepared the whole day. The Sabbath lights have also to burn from the commencement of the Shabbas until its conclusion. After supper, especially in winter, the German Jews sing Sabbath songs; the Portuguese Jews, however, sing them summer and winter. These songs relate to the great rewards in store for those who observe the Sabbath carefully, and certain directions how to behave on that day, and what to eat, drink, and avoid. They also give an account of the Sambatjon, or Sabbath-river, a river which the Jews believe exists somewhere in the world, and which flows rapidly the whole week through, but on the Sabbath is silent. A prayer is now said before retiring to rest : and with this the Friday, or Sabbath-eve, preceding the real Sabbath, is brought to a conclusion.
Early on the Sabbath morning—though not so early as on week-days, as it is a day of rest—the Jews rise from their beds, say their usual devotions, and then repair to the synagogue for morning prayers.
This service consists of four principal parts. The first part, the ordinary morning prayers, of which the most important is the Shemonah-Esrah, an appellation for eighteen prayers, believed to have been composed by Ezra and the men of the Great Synagogue. On this day the phylacteries are not worn. The second part, the reading of the Torah or law, which is the five books of Moses, and is the most important part of the Sabbath service. It is divided into fifty-four portions, one of which is read in the synagogue every Sabbath. Each portion is again sub-divided into seven chapters. The third part, the Haphtorah, or conclusion, which is a selection of the prophetical writings, a portion of which is read immediately after the reading of the law. And the fourth part, the Musaph, or additional prayers, which consists of prayers and portions of the law referring to certain sacrifices performed under the Mosaic dispensation. The above are the chief parts of the Sabbath morning service; but the most important, as I have already mentioned, is the reading of the law. A slight account of the formalities connected with this proceeding may be interesting to the general reader..
In the synagogue, towards the east, are some shrines, called by the Jews, “The Holy Ark,” where they keep copies of the law, written upon long rolls of parchment, without points and accents. When that part of the morning prayer which is called Shakreth is finished, the curtain which hangs before the ark is drawn aside; the door opened, so that the congregation have a full view of the books of the law; upon seeing which they exclaim, “And when the ark set forward, Moses said, 'Rise up, Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee'... .For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
Then some one takes the roll out of the ark, and gives it into the hand of the reader, whilst the former is saying, “ Blessed be He who gave the law to His people Israel. Hear,
Israel, the Lord our God is one Jehovah. Our God is one: our Lord is great: holy and reverend is His name.” The reader replies, “ Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”