Shabbat Laws #6
Shabbat Morning Prayers
Visiting the sick and mourners
Shabbat Afternoon Prayer
Shabbat Morning Prayers
It is customary to begin synagogue services later on Shabbat than during
the week, since sleeping is part of enjoying Shabbat. However, the minyan
should not start so late as to miss the appointed time for reciting Shema
and prayers. Since in the winter, the hour for Shema is much earlier,
the Shabbat morning prayers should be held earlier too.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi writes that one should not wait till the
end of the time limit for reciting Shema, rather he should do so
¾ of an hour before the deadline.
It is a tradition from the Ari z"l and emphasized by the Ba'al Shem
Tov, that men should immerse in a mikveh on Shabbat morning, (even if
he does not need to according to "tvilat Ezra" and) even
if he immersed Shabbat eve. The reason is that Shabbat day has an added
dimension of holiness over Friday night.
On Shabbat it is customary to increase in prayers of praise, as well
as to increase in tunes and songs during the Shabbat prayers in order
to honor the day. This regards the melodies often sung during Psukei
D'Zimra, and not the lengthy cantorial singing, about which many Rabbis
disagreed as to its virtues. Although one should not discourage a cantor
from singing at length, even if one's intent is in order to have more
time to learn Torah, still, a cantor's singing should not prevent people
to make it in time to eat before midday.
Shabbat Morning Prayers
It is a tradition handed down from Moses that five men are called to
the Torah on holidays, six on Yom Kippur; and seven on Shabbat. The ascending
number of men correlates to the increasing amount of holiness of different
days (Shabbat being the holiest). Although according to halacha, the congregation
may add to the number of men called to the Torah on holidays and Yom Kippur,
this is rarely practiced (so as not to equate holidays to Yom Kippur and
Yom Kippur to Shabbat), except on Simchat Torah when all men are usually
called to the Torah.
Many communities do not increase the number of seven men called to the
Torah on Shabbat. The reason is that a man called up to the Torah after
the first seven would recite blessings that are not necessary, and also
not to inconvenience the other congregants. And so it is recommended
The person who is called to maftir (the last Torah aliyah preceding
the reading of the haftara) must bless and read from the Torah, and after
this he may read the haftara from the Prophets. If he would not first
read from the Torah, it would be as though one begins reading the Prophets
in the same manner as reading the Torah, and the two could be equated.
Although technically, maftir could be counted among the seven aliyahs,
it is a long accepted custom that is not included in the seven, and an
8th person is called to the Torah. The maftir is read in order to increase
the honor of the Torah over that of the Prophets, and likewise for this
reason, it is not included in the number of aliyahs read on holidays and
shacharit of Yom Kippur. However, at mincha of Yom Kippur and the other
fasts, and both Torah readings of Tisha B'Av, maftir is included with
the third aliyah.
The Sages instituted the recital of the kaddish prayer between the first
seven aliyahs to the Torah and the reading of maftir, so that maftir remains
distinct from being included in the seven. Thus the 7th aliyah completes
the weekly reading, after which kaddish is recited, and then maftir repeats
at least the last three verses of the 7th aliyah. (This is also so that
kaddish does not interrupt the consecutive reading of the parsha.)
The kaddish which is usually recited before maftir is NOT said on Tisha
B'Av in shacharit or mincha prayers, nor on Yom Kippur and other fast
days at mincha. On a day when two Torah scrolls are read from, the first
seven aliyahs are read from the first Torah, then kaddish is recited,
and maftir is read from the second Torah. On a Shabbat when three Torah
are read from (such as Rosh Chodesh Tevet which falls on Shabbat, and
Simchat Torah), the seven aliyahs are divided between the first two scrolls,
then kaddish is said, and maftir is read from the third Torah.
On a day when two Torah scrolls are read from, the first seven aliyahs
are read from the first Torah, then kaddish is recited, and maftir is
read from the second Torah. On a Shabbat when three Torah are read from
(such as Rosh Chodesh Tevet which falls on Shabbat, and Simchat Torah),
the seven aliyahs are divided between the first two scrolls, then kaddish
is said, and maftir is read from the third Torah.
If the person reading the Torah accidentally called only six people to
the Torah, finished the entire reading and said kaddish, he should not
call up a seventh person. Instead, he should call up the man for maftir
(who will, in this case, count as the seventh aliyah) and read what was
read with the sixth man. If the Torah reader did not yet say kaddish,
a seventh man should be called to the Torah and read again the last three
verses read from the portion. After this, a man for maftir should be called
and those same three verses read once more. This is done since it is preferable
that the maftir not count as the seventh aliyah.
Everyone is obliged to hear the Torah reading as well as the blessings
read by those called up to the Torah. This means that everyone must carefully
listen and not speak during the Torah reading, even other words of Torah.
(One may speak words of Torah during the Mi Sh'berach.) It is permissible
to quietly read along with the Torah reading in order to better concentrate
on the words being read.
In our generation, the person called to the Torah does not himself read
the Torah. Rather someone else is the designated Torah reader who reads
aloud for all to hear so they may fulfill their obligation to hear the
reading. Nevertheless, one called to the Torah should quietly read each
word of the reading along with the designated reader. In extenuating circumstances,
such as if one was in the middle of praying 'Shma', a man should read
not along with the Torah reader, and should instead rely on the Rabbinic
opinion that his blessing on the Torah can apply to hearing the Torah
A boy before Bar Mitzvah cannot read from the Torah in order to release
those called up to the Torah and the whole congregation from their obligation.
The reason for this is that he himself has not yet reached the age when
he is required to hear the Torah reading. A boy before Bar Mitzvah can
be on of the seven called to the Torah on Shabbat, though this is not
practiced. However, he may be called up for maftir, if he understands
to Whom he is blessing. This is true even for maftir of Shabbat Zachor,
which every Jewish adult is obliged to hear, since the boy himself is
not reading the Torah, rather the designated reader reads for everyone.
An unlearned man who knows how to read the Torah portion, but does not
comprehend their meaning, may nevertheless be called to the Torah for
an aliyah and make the appropriate blessings. It is permissible to give
an aliyah to an unlearned man who is respected, well-to-do, and in high
standing in the generation, before giving an aliyah to a man very learned
in Torah. This is not a slight to the Torah scholar but rather an honor
for the Torah in having great men called up for aliyahs.
On Shabbat morning, if the Torah reader skipped a word, or even a letter,
from the reading, he must re-read that verse along with the preceding
and following verses. The blessings before and after the reading must
be recited also. If they congregation already finished the Torah and Haftorah
readings and had even prayed the Musaf prayer, they must still have someone
read the three required verses, and have a man called to recite the blessings
before and afterwards.
If a man had an aliyah to the Torah, and then went to another synagogue
and was called up for the very same aliyah, he must still recite the proper
blessings before and afterwards.
The Sages established taking out a second Torah scroll on holidays for
maftir, and reading the sections in which are described the musaf offerings
of the holidays. They did not make a similar ruling regarding the Shabbat
musaf offerings since there are only two verses on this topic, and we
do not read less than three verses from a Torah.
Another reason is that when the maftir portion is not a repetition of
the parsha's final verses, but a separate matter read from a different
Torah scroll, then the haftara (from the Prophets) must correspond to
the topic read about in the maftir. If every week a maftir about Shabbat
was read, then the hafatra would also be the same every week.
The Haftorah that is read on Shabbos should be at least 21 verses. This
is because when the Torah is read, seven Jews are called up to read at
least three verses each. When a decree was enforced upon the Jews, prohibiting
them from reading from the Torah, the sages decreed to read from the Neviim
[prophets] instead a section about an idea related to that week's Torah
portion. Seven people were called to each read 3 verses from this 'haftorah,'
in order that the Torah reading practice should not be forgotten.
After the decree was nullified, and they were once again able to read
from the Torah, the sages proclaimed that one should not retract the haftorah
custom which had been started and should rather increase in such a holy
practice. Therefore, after each public Torah reading a haftorah of at
least 21 verses from the Prophets is still read, unless the theme is completed
in less than 21 verses, in which case it is not necessary to add verses
solely to complete the 21. However, if the Torah portion was not read
from a scroll but from a printed book, the haftorah is still read, but
without its blessings.
The haftorah read from the prophets may be only a section from a book;
the entire book does not have to be read. And unlike the reading of the
Torah, which must be read from the hand-written parchment, one is permitted
to read the haftorah from a printed book. One should not recite the haftorah
by heart. However, if a written section is missing a few words, it is
permitted to recite those few missing words by heart. A boy under the
age of Bar Mitzvah may read the haftorah if he is able to decipher the
letters of the Alef -Bet with precision, and understands who is being
blessed. It is customary not to allow a minor to read on 3 occasions:
the haftorah of Ezekiel that is read on the first day of Shavuot, the
song of David which is read on the final day of Passover and the haftorah
which is read on Shabat Shuva.
The sages instituted that 7 blessings are said on the Haftorah, corresponding
to the 7 people who read from the Torah. The first two blessings are recited
over reading the Maftir portion of the Torah. The next is read as a preliminary
to the haftorah and the last four upon its conclusion. One should concentrate
on which blessing is being recited and answer 'amen' upon hearing it.
The one who calls up the Haftorah reader should be knowledgeable and able
to read the haftorah himself. Ideally one should stand up for this reading,
out of respect for the community. It is incumbent upon everyone to hear
the reading of the Haftorah just as it is for the reading of the Torah.
Therefore the reader should pronounce the words clearly and loudly. It
is customary to read the words to oneself quietly as it is being read.
It is permitted to visit the sick on Shabbat. One should not,
however, recite the regular verses of the prayer for the sick "May the
almighty have mercy..." as one would during the week, for this can bring
the sick person to a state of sadness. Rather, one should use words of
encouragement and comfort, so that one should not cause any pain on Shabbat,
as it says "Shabbat heals and hastens the recovery."
One is permitted to visit mourners on Shabbat and, as during the
week, it is customary to say the verse "May the Almighty comfort you along
with the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem," since these words of comfort
do not evoke crying. Since the Rabbis only allowed these visits in order
to diminish the pain, we should not specifically choose the day of Shabbat
to make these visits as opposed to the other days, but only if it is in
addition to the weekday visits.
The "Mussaf" service begins immediately after the morning "shacharit"
service on Shabbat. Even if one prayed the Shacharit service very early
on Shabbat morning, he can pray the Musaf service thereafter, just as
the bringing of the offerings in the Temple began with the "Tamid
shel Shachar" ['Morning sacrifice'], and was followed (on Shabbat,
Yom Tov, Rosh Chodesh, and Chol HaMoed) by the "Tamid haMusaf"
['Additional sacrifice']. However if one prayed Musaf before he prayed
the Shacharit, he has fulfilled his obligation. Had it been in the times
of the Temple, the sacrifice of Musaf would not be accepted without the
Shachar sacrifice, yet, in prayer, the Rabbis did not apply this stringency.
One should not pray Musaf past an hour after mid-day. If one prayed Mincha
[the afternoon service] before Mussaf, he should go back and pray Musaf.
It is permissible to eat after the Shacharit [morning service] and before
the Musaf service. Regarding fruits, there is no specific requirement,
but with bread, one may not eat more than a "kvaitza (2 oz.)". One should
make Kiddush before eating and drink a 1/4 cup of wine, and eat a kezayit
(1 oz.) of one of the 5 types of grains immediately following Kiddush.
On Shabbat day, after one comes home from shul, it is proper to have
a set table with bread [covered by a cloth]. One should eat a respectable
meal just as one would customarily do on Friday night, out of respect
for the Shabbat. The importance of this meal even supersedes that of Friday
night. One should not differentiate between Friday Night and Shabbat day.
Therefore for both meals one should make Kiddush over a cup of wine
On both Friday Night and Shabbat day, it is customary not to eat anything
after the prayer services until one makes Kiddush over the wine. [Drinking
water is permissible]. One should try to recite Kiddush over wine and
if wine is inaccessible, one may use chamar hamdina - a prominent local
beverage. This applies to Shabbat day. On Friday night it is preferable
to do Kiddush over the Challah rather than the wine substitute. The reason
is that the blessing on Friday night is longer and it will remain apparent
that one is doing Kiddush, while on Shabbat day, the short blessing may
It is customary to say 100 Brachot [blessings] on Shabbat. Therefore
one should serve fruits and delicacies and possibly even have beautiful
scents upon which to recite the blessings. If one is accustomed to sleeping
on Shabbat afternoon, he should do so, for it is adds a dimension of pleasure
to the Shabbat for him. Every community should try to establish a shiur,
a learning group and study 'Midrash' on Shabbat. This idea is derived
from Moshe, who gathered the people in groups to teach them Torah.
Our sages teach us that the Shabbat and festivals were given to us in
order that we should immerse ourselves in the study of the Torah. For
the entire week one is occupied with work and unable to set up fixed times
for learning. On Shabbat, people are free from working obligations and
should dedicate themselves to the study of Torah, increasing the pleasure
of Shabbat, aside from just eating and drinking. One is prohibited from
setting up a meal during the study of Torah in the shul. It must either
be done beforehand or afterwards, but should not interfere with the concentration
of those who came to hear words of Torah from a teacher or to learn on
If a synagogue was to have a prominent and genuine Torah leader (as opposed
to a good but not outstanding teacher) teach Torah laws and guide Jews
in the fear of Heaven, but he arrived late in the afternoon, the 'third
Shabbat meal' should not preempt the lesson, since teaching Torah and
fear of Heaven to the many takes precedence over all the other commandments.
The main purpose of Shabbat and holidays is that the Jewish people can
learn Torah. During the week, we are busy with work and do not have enough
time to dedicate to Torah learning. On Shabbat we are free of work and
can properly devote ourselves to learn Torah.
Therefore, businessmen who are busy working during the week and do not
have set times for Torah learning should not spend excess time in eating
and drinking on Shabbat. Rather, they should suffice themselves with a
little extra and dedicate the rest of their time to Torah.
On the other hand, men who spend their whole week learning Torah may partake
more in eating and drinking on Shabbat since the rest of the week they
enjoy Torah learning. Even still they must do some Torah learning, and
not only enjoy Shabbat through eating, drinking, and sleeping, for it
is written, "Shabbat is for the L-rd, your G-d" (Exodus 20/10).
Shabbat Afternoon Prayer
Before the Shabbat mincha Torah reading, it is the custom to recite the
verse "V'ani tfilati
" ('And I pray
'). This is according
to the verse, "Those that sit at the gates will speak of Me, and
those that drink alcohol will sing" (Psalms 69/13). The following
verse (14) includes the words "V'ani tfilati". In these verses,
King David was saying to G-d, 'Master of the universe, this nation is
different from the other nations of the world. When the nations become
drunk they are rash. We are not like this. Even though we drink alcohol,
we still "and I pray
"' We say this verse before the Shabbat
mincha reading specifically, since we are doing this special reading for
the sake of the laborers who do not hear the Torah read during the week.
We want to emphasize to G-d, that even these workmen gather to hear the
On a holiday which falls on a weekday, we do not recite "V'ani tfilati…"
('And I pray…') as part of the Mincha afternoon prayers since we do not
read the Torah then. (The verse is not read on Yom Kippur, even when it
falls on Shabbat.) So too, when praying Mincha in a place that does not
have a Torah scroll, it is not required to recite this verse; nevertheless,
we do always say the verse on Shabbat since this is the accepted custom
for various other reasons.
The Kaddish prayer is not recited after the Torah reading of Mincha on
Shabbat. The reason is that there is no prayer to separate between a Kaddish
after the Torah reading and the Kaddish recited before beginning the 'amidah'
prayer, and the recital of consecutive Kaddish prayers is not permitted.
(The recital of the single verse 'Yihalilu' after the Torah reading is
not considered a significant enough separation.) According to the Rebbe
Rayatz, the Lubavitch custom is to recite the 'half Kaddish' towards the
end of rolling up the Torah scroll (glillah), which is performed quickly.
The half Kaddish is said slowly enough that it is finished only after
the Torah has been replaced in the ark, so that the half Kaddish will
be completed as close to the amidah as possible.
In a place that does not have a Torah scroll, only one kaddish is recited.
"V'Ani Tfillati" should be said before kaddish, immediately following
"Seder Kedusha" ("Uva L'Tzion Go'el"). This is so there will be no break
at all between kaddish and Shmoneh Esray, as we always precede Shmoneh
Esray with Kedusha (except in Shacharit morning prayers that we connect
the blessing for the redemption with Shmoneh Esray).
After Shmonah Esray, it is the custom to recite the three verses of "Tzidkatcha",
which serve to justify the judgment of Yosef, Moshe, and King David, who
all passed away at this time of Shabbat afternoon. However, on a Shabbat
that, if it would be a weekday upon which Tachanun is not recited (like
Rosh Chodesh or Chanuka), we do not recite Tzidkatcha. So too, if Shabbat
precedes a day of Rosh Chodesh or a holiday, we do not recite Tzidkatcha,
either (as we would not say Tachanun at Mincha on a weekday that precedes
a holiday or Rosh Chodesh). No sermon is made between Mincha and Ma'ariv,
since a wise man who passes away (at that time of day), his study house
is cancelled. However, learning in partners at home is fine. The prevalent
custom is to make sermons before Mincha, though Chassidim often have a
person say a memorized discourse between Mincha and Ma'ariv.
One should be careful to eat 'Se'udah Shlishit' (the third Shabbat meal
typically eaten during the late afternoon before sunset). Even if one
is still full, he should try to eat a k'baitzah (2 oz.) of bread. If this
is too difficult he should eat at least a k'zayit (1 oz) of bread. If
one will be eating less than a k'baitzah of bread, then he should wash
his hands as is done before eating bread, but NOT recite the blessing
"Al netilat yada'im"..
There are those who are lenient and rule that bread is not required for
se'udah shlishit. They rule that any food made of the five grains over
which we bless "boray minay m'zonot" can suffice, since these
are called "mazon"-food. Others, who are even more lenient,
say that se'udah shlishit can be fulfilled by eating meat or fish, or
other foods commonly accompanying bread. Others, who are more lenient
still, rule that se'udat shlishit can be fulfilled by eating fruit. However,
one should not resort to any of these leniencies unless he is truly full,
and eating bread would cause him great discomfort. Chabad tradition, however,
is not to eat bread, but rather to eat food of any type for se'udat shlishit.
One who feels he really cannot eat anything at all for seudah shlishit,
is not required to force himself to do so, because Shabbat meals are meant
to increase our joy and not cause distress. However, someone with forethought
will not overeat at the second Shabbat meal (lunch), so he will have room
to eat seudah shlishit.
One should begin seudah shlishit with two loaves of bread, just as he
has two loaves at the other Shabbat meals. If he does not have two loaves,
he should use no less than one whole loaf. These laws of seudah shlishit
and having two loaves at every meal apply to women just as for men, since
all Shabbat related deeds apply equally to them. According to Kabbalah,
it is good to eat fish at seudah shlishit, even more than the other Shabbat
The Third Meal, seudah shlishit, is eaten from the time of 'mincha gedolah'
which is from the sixth and one half hour of the day, until evening. If
one ate seudah shlishit before the 6th and 1/2 hour, he has not fulfilled
his obligation, unless he ate more than 2 oz. (or at least 1 oz.) after
the 6th and 1/2 hour, but it is preferable that he begin eating after
that hour. One must at least begin eating before sunset. Likewise, he
must eat the above amount before sunset, to fulfill his obligation.
It is customary to pray Mincha before eating seudah shlishit (Third Shabbat
Meal). If, immediately following Shabbat a holiday will begin, one should
eat seudah shlishit before the tenth hour, in order to have an appetite
to eat the holiday meal that night. If, however, he forgot and began eating
after the tenth hour, he can still eat seudah shlishit later.
On reciting Grace after eating seudah shlishit, if one forgot to say
the extra verses for Shabbat ("Ritzay
") and already began
the fourth paragraph of Grace, he need not begin Grace again. The reason
for this is that we may rely on the Rabbis who rule that eating bread-and
the resulting recital of Grace-is optional at this meal, and therefore
repeating Grace would cause one be saying a blessing in vain. Similarly,
if on a holiday, one chose to eat a third meal with bread, and forgot
to recite the special paragraph added for holidays ("Ya'aleh v'yavoh
he should not repeat Grace, since eating a third meal on a holiday is
not required at all.
When reciting Grace after the Third Meal, if one forgot to say the extra
verses for Shabbat in the third paragraph but remembered before beginning
the 4th paragraph, he should say the added blessing "Bless You
gave Sabbaths for rest
", but only if it is still
If one continues eating seudah shlishit into the night, even if it is
quite late into the night, he must still say the added verses for Shabbat
upon reciting Grace. The reason for this is that it goes according to
when the meal was initiated, and at that time one was obliged to mention
the day (Shabbat). The obligation to mention Shabbat remains even if Shabbat