Hebrew Voices #35 – How to Keep Shabbat (Rebroadcast)

How to Keep ShabbatIn this episode of Hebrew Voices, How to Keep Shabbat, Nehemia Gordon discusses what it means “not kindle a fire on Shabbat”, where the Rabbinic tradition of lighting “Shabbat candles” come from, and a reminder to show grace to those who don’t keep Shabbat the same way you do.

I look forward to reading your comments!

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31 thoughts on “Hebrew Voices #35 – How to Keep Shabbat (Rebroadcast)

  1. Exodus 35:3 I had a friend who looked up this verse on biblehub.com, and the interesting thing that he found was the word fire can mean Gods anger. So for me, the spiritual meaning of not kindling a fire on the sabbath is do not make God angry, do the things that you know are pleasing to the Father on that day. Isaiah 58:13-14 is additional information that is helpful in how to keep the sabbath holy.

  2. may i venture an idea: the primary aim of Shabbat being Rest might we look at “do not kindle a fire…” in a spiritual sense, i.e. do not kindle the fire of your passions, engage in furious debate, or fire up your opinions — let all those tangents lie? After all, the passage means something — let us, as you say, come before our Creator in humility and lay to rest, at least for a day, those ideas the stir up passions and divisions.

  3. Shabbat there’s my understanding of the biblical calendar was a lunar calendar and it had to do with the full moon was Shabbat. Which the new moon lands on different days every week if you want to follow the real Sabbath which is difficult to do when you have to work so how do you keep the Sabbath lose your job for the lunar calendar the lunar calendar thefar understands biblical calendar which is the real Sabbath on the full moon. I would love to keep the real Sabbath and the feast days, Dec 29 is real Shabbat. Am I wroung or right

  4. As “newbies” to Torah observance (only 2 weeks now!) we’ve been wondering about what is and isn’t appropriate for Shabbat. And where we are living now in an old rented house, we are not even allowed to light candles! However, as “oldies” to faith and love of God (for 45 years), we sense Him leading us as newly adopted children, step by step. We have a lot to relearn, and unlearn, but stressing over heat, light switches, or driving, certainly robs the joy and shalom of Yahovah. He knows who wants to “get it right” and who sincerely honors Him. When I was in Israel in 97, I remember a woman asking my then Reformed Jewish husband to carry her groceries and push the elevator buttons on the Sabbath, which seemed hypocritical. (Aside from the point that you shouldn’t ask your servants or animals to work in Deut 5, why did she buy food on that day in the first place?) That being said, I appreciated Nehemiah’s comment about being unwilling to tell others what they should or shouldn’t do. He rightly sidesteps the role of Torah police! And he also commented that we should be seeking Yahovah to learn what pleases Him. So, based on Ex 16, 31, 34, 35, Deut 5, and Is 58, it makes sense that we should savor the day, honor it, ceasing from our ordinary affairs IN ORDER to refresh ourselves spiritually and to be nourished in study and conversation about God with our families. REST, don’t WORK is loud and clear. Like the vessels in the Tabernacle, we will keep it holy, sanctified, or set apart for a sacred purpose. I hear the invitation of Rabbi Yeshua whispering to our hearts, “Come away with me and REST,” and “you shall find rest for your soul.” We are learning so much and appreciate the comments and thoughts shared here, as well as Nehemiah’s rich teaching with such sweet humility! Shabbat Shalom everyone!

    Reply ↓

  5. I enjoy your teachings very much. If you are ever near Florence SC I would love to meet and have a cup of tea over a spiritual conversation. I would love to pick your brain about some things. Being a mother, grandmother and great grandmother, I would love to get your insight on a few things. Be blessed brother. Shalom!

  6. Fire lighting or start a fire, to me it about being argument, with another , or fight with a person .Keep peace on the Sabbath

  7. How can I keep it, when I have work , I cannot ask to have Friday Saturday off , I did that and I need my job, boss told me ,either coming in to work or get fired, so I guest either keep my job and go to hall , or lose my job and become homelest .I am in my 54 years old .

    • Sounds like you have a job that requires you to work a lot if it includes weekends. Most jobs I’ve had require Mon-Fri, and I would be through by sundown, which works. But rather than looking at it as a choice between “hell” or homelessness (both are horrible to think about), pray that Yahovah would make it plain for you. Is your job requiring more of you than He would? I’ve also held jobs that took more away from me than they were worth, and yet they were still difficult to leave! We get so comfortable with a familiar routine and way of living, BUT when we stop to ponder the truths of Matthew 6, not fretting over clothing and food and how to pay the bills, specifically 6:33, our Father takes over and shows us some simple steps to establishing our lives in his shalom. Dear sister, try not to fret about it, but ask Him to guide you to a job that won’t require you to work Saturdays–at least until sundown. I believe our Father is also patient with us as we endeavor to change direction and get back on track with Him. But bottom line, the maker of heaven and earth always makes a way for us and He wants you to have peace as you seek to follow Him. Shalom.

    • You do not go to hell because you work on Shabbat. You might be struck dead, as happened to some of the Israelis in the Wilderness, but if you aren’t dead yet, that probably isn’t a threat, either!
      I was in a similar position at about your age! When I was 47, I become a widow, and was free for the first time ever to make my own decisions. I had found a job I loved, a house I could afford to rent and had worked through the transition of moving from out of state, I felt that God had helped me through many very hard years and was guiding me as to each next step. My 4 children had all left home and I was ready to commit to a few years of (emotional) rest and starting over. After my trial period at work, my employer said she would like to have me to commit to working for them for 20 years, but although she couldn’t make me do that, she would like me to commit to two things. One was to be available to work weekends as was needed and the second was not to tell anyone the company’s business or secrets of how we did things. (There was no dishonesty here, it was about efficient trade procedures and sourcing.) At the time these seemed like very reasonable requirements. I was a Christian, going to a Community Church, but looking for a deeper understanding of God. A few years later I discovered Michael Rood, Nehemia Gordon and Kieth Johnson, and my whole world changed! Unfortunately, my employer’s need for Saturday work did not! I prayed about this for a year before I worked up the courage to tell my boss about my change in belief.They were an active Christian Family and did not share my new ideas as to the true Shabbat, so I asked them to pray about it. Eventually they hired part time help to work Saturdays, so I was not called on, except in emergencies, to work Saturdays, and I continued to work Sundays if needed. Then I got old enough to retire and they were going to have to find someone to do all of my job anytime, and they quickly decided I didn’t have to work Saturdays ever again! As it was it took them three years to fully replace me, and now I have Shabbat for a real day of rest and I am so Thankful for being able to stay in that job, doing work that I enjoyed, with honest, God Fearing people, and being able to add to my Social Security benefits enough that I could afford to retire! We serve a God of Love.

  8. My question is how can you even obey the Sabbath Commandment when clearly the true Sabbath is not recognized on the Gregorian Calender? Saturn Day which is named after Greek Gods and every other day on the Gregorian Calender is as well for me is not the Sabbath and while I am still searching for truth on this matter I know that YeHoVaH said the sighting of the New Moon in ISRAEL would be when the New Month would start, wouldn’t seven days from that be the Sabbath? I suggest we stop going by a Calender that was created to honor idols and other gods and all get us a Hebrew Calender and pray for truth on this matter as we do on all other matters. If anyone can answer this for me, why we follow a pagan Calender please let me know.

    • I think depending on whether you believe in lunar Sabbaths or not will make a huge difference on what you believe about whether or not the Sabbath is on “Saturday”. So far, I have found no reason to believe that Shabbat is always the 7th day after a new moon.

      From my research I’ve found that the days of the week have not changed since the time of Yeshua. We went from the Julian calendar (first century B.C.E) to the Gregorian calendar (1500’s) and that’s it. No historical evidence I’ve found has shown that the days of the week were altered, but basically the day of the month (i.e. February 17th) was put on hold for a day so that it would get back in line with a more accurate solar calendar. Sorry, I might not have explained that well.

      Keep studying, and I will a little more on this subject as well.

    • We are not required to follow any pagan calendar; God appointed the sun and moon for His calendar, 2 days before man was created; follow that, and when you do keep in mind that God planted on Day 3 of Creation Week and then “set the clock” at sundown at the beginning of Day 4, which was Abib 1. Why? Because the vegetation required a Festival of Ingathering in the 7th month. At Sinai Moses was instructed to say that even the NAMES of the pagan gods was not to come out of our mouths. God is “abundant in goodness and truth” as He told Moses in Ex.34, so seek to God for His Truth, and do ALL He says. Be separate from the world in all their ways, not to be partakers of their sins. 🙂

    • the world follows pagan calendars because the whole world is pagan….the only exception was israel….whom god gave them a distinct calendar of his own which made israel a distinct nation…those who observed god’s calendar and his laws made israel a distinct nation…and that’s what god wanted….he wanted the pagan world to see a nation (israel) who follows his rules not the rules of the world thus they would see the blessings that follow god’s observances….but of course we know that did not happen as planned…because israel wanted to be like the rest of the world so they rebelled and followed the pagan world….many countries had their own calendar during the centuries….egypt had their own calendar then when rome came along they too had their own calendar and imposed it upon egypt and the world…then julias caesar came along and imposed his own calendar known as the julian calendar….many years later…when rome turned into the catholic church via constantine…pope gregory modified the julian calendar to which the whole world follows now…..the only ones who dont follow the pagan calendar…are those who have either always kept the god’s holy calendar and those who have recently learned about the big lie about false/pagan calendars and have rediscovered the delight in god’s true holy calendar…and have abandoned their pagan practices in favor of god’s true customs….which are few and far in between….

      • Very interesting historic review, thank you! But how do we find and reconnect to the original Hebrew calendar? I’m not thinking of the feasts but the year. Do Orthodox Jews follow it still and what year would it be now? I remember hearing 5800 something at one point, not sure where it is now. I also heard that there are discrepancies with this too (do you know why?), but it’s especially intriguing thinking about the 6-day, 6000 yr plan of Yahovah!

    • There are probably a lot of reasons, added by lots of civilizations and political and religious institutions. Mostly “they”. Why did they go to “New Math”? Why do we say “God Bless You” when some one sneezes? Why do they think people don’t need to learn to write or compose complete sentences? These are the questions they will be asking in the future! Check out Michael Rood’s calendar based on the New Moon and the Bible.

  9. Thanks for addressing this issue Nehemia. There is still an aspect I wish you had touched on though, namely; why is “thvaaru” although translated kindle, generally recognized as having additional implications of removal and lack of intellectual requirements, beside the primary meaning of “burn”. I have tentatively concluded that the word “incinerate” might have more merit than “kindle” as incinerate shares all the aspects of the three generally recognized meanings of “ba’ar” of burning(diligently in piel?), removal, and lack of intellectual requirement. In other words, isn’t the verse(Ex35:3) telling us “don’t be a dummy by burning your trash on shabbath”? If a translation with this meaning is possible, I think it would completely remove controversy from the verse. Who could argue in favor of burning trash on shabbath?

  10. This is a much better presentation than the others, where Nechemia is pushed to the background and two other commentators capture the microphone. I would much rather listen to Nechemia.

  11. 2 questions:

    1. is about judging. Why does Israel have the responsibility of dealing with sin if judging (of that same activity to determine whether its sin or not) is not to be done? Doesn’t that go against Lev 5:1, Lev 19:17, Ezek 33?

    2. how do we explain a Sabbath where preparing a meal is allowed and another Sabbath where it is not (Ex 12:16)? Couldn’t the kindling of a fire have to do more with the work (for provision/payment) that the israelites did during the other 6 days and not a fire to keep warm or eat? I know that Ex 16:23 gives an instruction about cooking today but isn’t the point of that verse about the going out and getting the food and not specifically about the cooking of that food? Doesn’t it say that there would be “some left over” but it doesn’t specify that it’s only the cooked portion. Why can’t it be “some left over” of the uncooked that may also be cooked the next day just like Ex 12:16 says may be done? I guess I go back to why cook on one Sabbath and not on another Sabbath? Wasn’t a sacrifice made both morning and evening even on Sabbath and wasn’t that sacrifice cooked and consumed?

  12. The principle of Shabbat is simple and from the beginning. Yhvh created all things for Himself then He ceased. So when Shabbat rolls around, I cease from any activity that causes me to increase. Shalom.

  13. My family keeps Shabbat in different ways. My dad and I are Jewish and my mother is messianic. My father takes a strictly scriptural approach to the Sabbath and has worked out what he believes should not be done based off reading the Tanakh. For instance a big thing for him is not to spend money based off the book of Erza-Nehemiah and the closing of the gates of Jerusalem on Shabbat to prevent commerce. He’d also rather not drive, but will if it’s to go to synagogue an hour away. My mother lights candles and enjoys participating in traditional Jewish activities and makes challah regularly. However she has no real scruples about prohibitions regarding the Sabbath. For myself, I am pretty traditional. I’ll break my own prohibitions but I don’t like to do it. I light candles to identify with the Jewish people and our interpretation of Sabbath observance. The custom of lighting oil lamps before the Sabbath (so one doesn’t sit in the dark) goes back to Roman times. However the traditional blessing, as Nehemia points out, comes from the Rabbinical vs. Karaite wars. So I change the words at the end. Instead of “and commanded us to kindle the Sabbath lights” I say in Hebrew “and commanded us to remember and keep the Shabbat.” The custom is pre-rabbinical, the blessing is not. Before changing the blessing, I used to enjoy singing Shalom Aleichem as I lit the candles. This is a song based off a midrash, and it’s generally acknowledged to be so.

    I know some are against all Jewish traditions. I think it’s important to remember that the traditions are Jewish and therefore represent the way Jewish people interpreted the commandments. We’ve been doing it longer than anyone else so it’s natural we have more traditions (both Karaite and Rabbunical Jews have many traditions). I think non-Jews who are joining themselves to G-d through the Torah can come up with their own interpretations of how to carry out the commandments too.

  14. Nehemia,
    Great short discussion. I’d love to hear more, especially from you.

    Just thinking through all the “Rules”… kinda makes me smile. Just at President Trump’s inagural adress, I was really impressed with President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka’s interpretation of Shabbat for the media. Obviously her and her husband Jared are religious Jews under the definition of Rabbinic Judaism because they went so far as to ask permission to travel on Shabbat after her dad’s inauguration. (Who else would ask and respect the range of possible answers to traveling on Shabbat.) Ivanka did not go into explaining the “Rules” as she and her husband observe Shabbat, but she went to the heart of the issue. (I will bet after converting, she can reiterate hundreds of does and don’ts.)

    What I pieced together from various sources was that she responded that Shabbat was time their family spent with God and with each other. She presented that she and her husband spend time together. They each spend time with their children. Implied they spent time at a local synagog. She even made a point that they don’t answer the phone the phone on Shabbat. Wow. What a positive way to put observing the Shabbat!

    Nehemia… I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on modern practical application of what Shabbat limitations are in Torah. What are some things you do scripture and tradition?


    Fort Collins, CO

  15. When read in context, this particular detail of not kindling a fire (Ex. 35:2-3) seems to be in reference to work being done to build the tabernacle. Exodus 16:23 refers to the work involved in food preparation (and it is WORK–even though we now have all these modern conveniences). Isaiah 58:13-14 provides further insight as to how to keep the Sabbath Holy (set apart). When we purposely set aside all the mundane activities that we’re involved with during the week, and focus our attention on our Creator, we honor Him and
    His Gift (Instruction/Commandment) of rest, which He gives us for our benefit.
    I don’t know Hebrew, but that’s how I understand it.

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