‘Green Sabbath’ Friday Night Dinner

Mina Tilt tells us about her personal ‘Green Sabbath’ spiritual practice and the Friday night dinner which forms an essential part of this.

‘Green Sabbath’ is a practice that I’ve developed in recent years. I’ve been developing, over a ten-year period, an understanding of the teachings of Jesus in his native Aramaic language/culture; and it’s truly been a life transforming process. I’ve also found myself drawing deep on personal childhood experience of living (for a time) with a family of orthodox Jews.

The result is a bit eclectic but it does seem to work. For the most part, this a personal spiritual practice that takes place at home. I find that some ritual helps with the discipline needed to ‘Let go and let God’. I’m certain that increasing serenity that I now feel is down to a recommitment to Shabbat practice.

Friday night dinner forms the centrepiece of our Green Sabbath practice which is inspired both by Earth Hour and traditional Jewish Sabbath practices. The meal itself tends to be quite simple but care is taken to make the table setting as beautiful as possible.

We don’t use any electricity, but we try to take a balanced common sense approach i.e. switching on a light to prevent tripping over our feet is fine! The general ethos is this: we don’t just take a break from the world, but we also give the world a night off from our relentless consumption of its resources.

The blessings I use for candle lighting, wine, water and bread start and end with lines from the Aramaic Lord’s prayer. Below is the basic Sabbath “liturgy” that I use on Friday Nights:

Candle Lighting
Abwoon d’bwashmaya  (The opening line of the Aramaic Lord’s prayer)
Blessed be you Sabbath Giver who rested from your labours.
In this moment of Shalama (Aramaic for Shalom) kindle the spark that brings your light into the world.

Blessing over the wine
Blessed be you, inter-breathing Spirit of Life, who ripens the fruit of the vine.
Fill our cup with your holy essence.

Blessing after washing of hands
Blessed be you, Wellspring of Living Water,
Cleanse our hearts and hands that we may serve your creation afresh.

Blessing over the bread
Blessed be you, Ground of all Being, who brings forth grain from the earth.
Feed us with the bread of life, nourish us with your wisdom.

Hawvlan lachma d’sunqanan yaomana (give us this day our daily bread) said as bread is broken.

Reflections on the Sabbath

Sabbath seems to be not so much about Shalom activism as Shalom de-activism. It’s about taking time off from all our daily activities including (and perhaps most importantly) our spiritual/social activism.

I suspect that it’s no coincidence that the last action taken before lighting the Shabbat candles is the placing of a coin or two in the Tzedakah or Charity box. In doing so, we symbolically give up our desire to control and fix things. It is this relinquishing that enables the restorative power of Sabbath to enter the soul.

For me, Shabbat is all about letting go and receiving from God rather than giving to God.

As a Jewish friend once pointed out, Shabbat practice was unique in an ancient world where sacrifices to God or Gods were the norm. On Sabbath, its God’s abundant gifts to us rather than our gifts to God that are the focus.

On Shabbat, we are spiritually (and physically) rested, refreshed and recharged ready for the week to come. Of the two primary purposes in Jewish life – Tikkun ha-nefesh or mending the soul, and Tikkun ha-olam or mending the world – it’s the former repair of the soul that happens on Shabbat. And when this occurs, the mending of the world flows quite naturally out of Shabbat Shalom.

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