The Noahide Court of the Sanhedrin is calling on all nations to light two Shabbat candles to honor a “Universal Shabbat” as mandated in the Ten Commandments.
They explained the reasons in their proclamation:
“God gave the Shabbat to serve practical purposes that enhance our lives:
- The source of the Blessings in any aspect of life is the Shabbat. This is true for anyone, regardless of race or religion, that if they are connected to Shabbat, they will be blessed in business, family, health, and every other aspect of their lives.
- Everyone should honor the Shabbat with joy and pleasure. Once a week, Shabbat offers the opportunity to invest in feeling the pleasure of gathering together, enjoying every bite of family dinner, enjoying singing together.
- Once a week, the Shabbat offers the opportunity to spend quality time with our families, to listen to each other, to share our experiences, to express our love, and make each other happy.
“Of course, there are spiritual reasons for honoring Shabbabat that are on an entirely different level. According to Torah sources (Psikta Derev Kahana Chapter 33) the commandment to ‘Remember the Sabbath’ was given at Mount Sinai as one of the Ten Commandments and said to all the nations of the world. This commandment is to remember that God created the world in six days, and Shabbat is based on the first Sabbath, just as all the laws of nature were created at that time and are still in effect, sustaining the world. The nation of Israel was commanded to keep the Sabbath holy, to keep all the details of Shabbat symbolizing our faith in God. This is especially relevant today as one of the names of God is ‘Shalom’ (peace) and Shabbat returns peace to the world. This is symbolized in the traditional sabbath greeting in which people bless each other with ‘Shabbat Shalom’.”
To honor Shabbat, it is appropriate to light two candles or an electric lamp with two bulbs before sunset on Friday. This emphasizes the two types of Shabbat:
- A universal Sabbath that requires all mankind to know that in six days God made the heavens and the earth.
- And a Jewish Sabbath that obliges the Jew to strike from any craft and the light of the candles will illuminate for us the light of faith. It is advisable to have them at the place where you will have your dinner.
At the time of lighting, it is worth reading the Biblical verses describing the creation of the world:
The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day Hashem finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done. And Hashem blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it Hashem ceased from all the work of creation that He had done. Genesis 2:1-3
It is praiseworthy that on Shabbat night, there should be a festive family meal, and it is fitting that within the meal there should be bread, fish, meat, and wine, which are a reminder of the future Shabbat then there will be a feast for the righteous where there will be wine and roasted meat. Bread symbolizes manna, fish – symbolizes the great fish of the prophet Jonah, meat symbolizes roasted meat from the Temple, as does wine. All of these are symbols of the future spiritual world;
It is traditional to bless the Shabbat over a glass in this manner: “Blessed you GOD, King of the Universe, Creator of this vine”. And everyone answers: Amen.
At the end of the family dinner. Everyone will bless:
“Blessed are you, God, King of the Universe and blessed your Kingdom, for the feeding the whole world with his goodness in grace and mercy and compassion. He gives food to every creature forever and ever, as it is written: “Gives bread to all flesh because of His mercy, thank God forever as he has always been merciful” Blessed are you, God, King of the Universe, for feeding everyone and everything. We remember that in six days you created the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day you rested. “
The declaration was signed by Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, Rabbi Meir Halevi, and Rabbi Jonathan Hahn.
Rabbi Schwartz explained that this dual Shabbat is based on a simple reading of the Bible in conjunction with a close reading of the Ten Commandments. He first cited the Talmud (Shabbat 118b) which states, “Were Israel to keep two Sabbaths as commanded, they would be immediately redeemed.” He explained that the simple reading implies two Sabbaths in a row establishing a level of regular observance. The rabbi also explained that an alternative reading might be two different Sabbaths: one of ‘remembering the Sabbath’, what the rabbi calls a ‘universal Sabbath’, and another of ‘observing the Sabbath’, what the rabbi calls a Sabbath for the Jews.
He explained that these are two different aspects of the Sabbath described in the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are listed twice in the Bible but there is a subtle difference between how the Sabbath is related to in each of these separate listings.
“The first set of tablets were written by God and the commandment to remember the Sabbath was a universal commandment,” Rabbi Schwartz explained. “That is to ‘remember’ the Sabbath. Since it was universal, it was followed by a description of creation.”
“The commandment in Deuteronomy on the tablets written by Moses was a message specifically for the Jews to ‘observe’ the Sabbath,” Rabbi Schwartz said, noting that it was followed by a description of God taking the Jews out of Egypt.
“Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and Hashem your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore Hashem your God has commanded you to observe the Shabbat day. Deuteronomy 5:15
In Halacha, the two different verbs relating to the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments denote two different ways to relate to the obligation of the Sabbath: ‘to remember’ refers to the positive commandments of keeping the Sabbath and ‘to observe’ relates to the negative commandments of refraining from labor or acts that are restricted on the Sabbath.
“By not instructing the nations in their requirement to ‘remember the Sabbath’, by actually preventing them from taking part in the Sabbath, the Jews have prevented the full light of Moshiach (Messiah) from being revealed in the world,” Rabbi Schwartz said.
Rabbi Schwartz explained that these two different versions of the Sabbath commandment generate two different types of Sabbaths; one for Jews and one for the nations. The Jews are required to both ‘remember’ and ‘observe’, performing the positive commandments as well as refraining from the 39 forbidden forms of labor. The positive mitzvah of remembering the Sabbath is encompassed in reciting kiddush (sanctifying) the Sabbath, usually performed over a glass of wine. He also recommended that non-Jews light two candles to bring in the Sabbath. This is typically performed by women. The rabbi ruled that if a non-Jew does so for the Sabbath at the proper time and day, a blessing including the name of God may be recited.