Preparing for Shabbat

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This is not an article on how to properly observe Shabbat. Rather, it is a chapter on how to properly observe Erev Shabbat, Friday. Indeed, there is an entire array of laws and customs on how to maximize our Fridays in preparation for Shabbat. Even one who has servants at his disposal is obligated to personally tend to at least some of the Shabbat preparations himself. [1]


  1. Work should be minimized on Fridays in order to allow for plenty of time to properly prepare for Shabbat. [2]
  2. It is the husband's job to ensure that the Shabbat candles are in place and ready for lighting each week. [3]
  3. Even if one had many helpers or family members preparing for Shabbat one should make an effort to personally be involved in preparing for Shabbat. [4]
  4. One should endeavor to purchase flowers in honor of Shabbat. [5]

Buying food for Shabbat

  1. One should begin one's Shabbat preparations as early as possible on Friday. [6]
  2. One should make sure to buy one's food for Shabbat on Friday and not before unless one feels that one won't be able to find those items if one only goes to the store on Friday. [7]
  3. One must pray before going to buy one's food for Shabbat and if one regularly learns one should not change one's practice and only buy the food afterwards unless there's a fear that one will loose the opportunity to buy the food in which case one should delay one's learning.[8]
  4. If there's a fear that if one waits until after davening one may loose the opportunity to buy one's food for Shabbat before prayer but one should at least say Shema beforehand. [9]
  5. When buying food for Shabbat, it is praiseworthy to verbally state to oneself that the food is for such purpose. [10]
  6. Indeed, one should endeavor to do something every day of the week in honor of Shabbat, as did Shammai. Whenever Shammai would go shopping and come across a tasty piece of meat, he would purchase it in honor of Shabbat. If later in the week he came across an even more attractive piece of meat, he would eat the first one and save the nicer one in honor of Shabbat. [11]

Tasting the food in preparation of Shabbat

  1. There's a righteous practice to taste the food for Shabbat on Friday in order to know whether it's spiced and tasty. [12]

Eating on Friday

Having a festive meal

  1. On Friday, even in the morning, one may not make a large meal which one normally wouldn't have during the week. [13]

Normal meals

  1. Strict halacha permits one to eat an amount that’s normal for a weekday meal, however, one should refrain from beginning a meal which is normal for a weekday meal from the 9th hour (Shaot Zmaniot) in the day. [14]
  2. In the winter months when the Shaot Zmaniot (halachic hours) are short one should refrain from having a meal too close to Shabbat so that if one has a meal one will still have an appetite going into Shabbat. [15]


  1. It’s totally permissible to have a snack the entire day of Friday and there’s no preference not to eat after 9 hours. [16]


  1. Past the 9th hour, one shouldn’t drink so much that one won’t be hungry for the Shabbat meal. [17]

Brit Milah or Pidyon HaBen on Friday

  1. One may have the festive meal of a Brit Milah or Pidyon HaBen on Friday.[18] However, it is preferable to make the meal in the morning (before Chatzot, halachic midday). [19]

Wedding on Friday

  1. Similarly, a wedding which took place on Friday may be accompanied by a feast. However, it's preferable to push off the feast until Shabbat or another day. [20]

Engagement party on Friday

  1. One should not make a feast for an engagement party on Friday. [21]

Fasting on Friday

  1. There have even been individuals who would fast each and every Friday in order to ensure that they would have an appetite for the Shabbat meal. [22] While such a practice is simply not possible for the masses, it is recommended, however, that one not eat an actual meal (but rather a light meal or a snack) on Friday, especially during the winter months when Shabbat arrives early. [23]

Showering for Shabbat

  1. It is also a big mitzva to shower on Fridays, in honor of Shabbat, preferably late in the day. [24]
  2. The mitzva of showering can only be fulfilled with warm to hot water. [25]
  3. The order of what to wash first when showering is as follows: head, face, chest, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg.[26]

Brushing one's hair

  1. One should brush one's hair nicely in honor of Shabbat. [27]

Cutting one's nails

  1. One should arrange for one's hair and nails to be cut on Erev Shabbat. [28]

Going to Mikvah

  1. It is also meritorious to immerse in a mikva, if possible. [29]


  1. Rivevot Ephraim 1:181, S"A OC 250:1, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  2. Mishna Berura 25:1-4, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). See also the Kaf Hachaim, OC 250:5; Shaarei Teshuva 250:2.who write that the sweat one emits while preparing for Shabbat is said to erase one's sins from the Heavenly record.
  3. Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin), Kaf Hachaim, OC 250:9.
  4. S"A 250:1
  5. Shir Hashirim Rabba 2:9; Vayikra Rabba 23:6; Kaf Hachaim (Palagi) 36:2, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  6. Shabbat 117b; Tur, OC 250; OC 250:1, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  7. Gemara Shabbat 117b writes that a pperson should get up early on Friday to prepare for Shabbat. So rules S"A 250:1. Mishna Brurah 250:2 explains that the reason is that by purchasing food for Shabbat on Friday it's more recognizable that one is preparing for Shabbat than if one were to buy the food on Thursday. He adds that if there's a fear that one won't be able to buy one's food on Friday then one may do so on Thursday. So rules Menuchat Ahava (vol 1, 2:1).
  8. Mishna Brurah 250:1, Menuchat Ahava (vol 1, 2:1)
  9. Mishna Brurah 250:1, Menuchat Ahava (vol 1, 2:1)
  10. Mishna Berura 250:2
  11. Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin) quoting Beitza 16a. See also Pesikta Rabati 23.
  12. Magan Avraham 250:1, Menuchat Ahava (vol 1, 2:3), Aruch Hashulchan, OC 250:4; Kaf Hachaim, OC 250:8; Mishna Berura 250:2; Rivevot Ephraim 2:115:37
  13. S"A 249:2, Aruch HaShulchan 249:4, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). The Shulchan Aruch explains that the reason is so that a festive meal on Friday doesn't take away from one's appetite for the Shabbat meal and this is included in Kavod Shabbat. The Mishna Brurah 249:10 quotes another reason; if one is involved in preparing a festive meal it'll prevent one from preparing for Shabbat.
  14. S”A 249:2 writes that halachically it’s permissible to have a meal the whole day because we hold like Rabbi Yose in Pesachim 98b. However, even Rabbi Yose agrees that establishing a meal is forbidden after 9 hours.
  15. Mishna Brurah 249:16
  16. S”A 249:2 who writes that one can have a snack the whole day and preferably one shouldn’t have a normal meal after 9 hours. Mishna Brurah 249:15 writes this explicitly that a snack is permitted the whole day.
  17. Mishna Brurah 249:14 writes that the permit to have snacks the whole day doesn’t include drinks. He concludes that one should at least be careful from 9 hours and on not to have too much that one won’t be hungry for the Shabbat meal.
  18. Rama 249:2 writes that if the meal of a mitzvah that has a set time such as Brit Milah and Pidyon HaBen one can have the meal even on Friday. Mishna Brurah 249:12 adds that even if the Brit Milah was delayed because the child was sick or a Pidyon HaBen which was not performed on the 30th day, nonetheless the feast may be held on Friday. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat vol 1 pg 531) agrees.
  19. Mishna Brurah 249:13, Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat vol 1 pg 62)
  20. Mishna Brurah 249:9
  21. S"A 249:2 writes that one should not make a feast even for an engagement which is a seudat mitzvah. However, the Mishna Brurah 249:9 writes that this is only true if the engagement took place on a different day however, if the engagement actually took place on Friday the feast may be held. Nonetheless, the Mishna Brurah concludes that the engagements that we perform nowadays are not halachically binding as they were in the times of the gemara and so it's not considered a seudat mitzvah which would permit a feast on Friday.
  22. Yerushalmi Ta'anit 2:12; S"A OC 249:3, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  23. Aruch HaShulchan 249:6, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin)
  24. Mishna Brurah 260:1, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). The Elya Rabba 262:6 explains that the reason that one should shower later rather than earlier is because we are taught that the pleasure one derives from a shower and being clean is only appreciated an hour or so afterwards. Delaying the shower closer to Shabbat will ensure that one enjoys this pleasure on Shabbat itself.
  25. S"A OC 260:1; Biur Halacha 260 s.v. “Bechamin” and "Lechof Harosh". But see Devar Chevron 2:229
  26. Shabbat 61a; Mishna Berura 2:7, 260:1; Be'er Moshe 3:1; Ben Ish Chai (Vayishlach 17), Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). The Ta’amei Haminhagim 249 writes that this pre-Shabbat wash is known in kabbalistic circles to assist in removing sins from one’s soul.
  27. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:12, Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin). See also Yosef Ometz 565
  28. S"A 260:1, Mishna Berura 260:6 quoting Moed Katan 18a. Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin) writes that the reason for this is that before the sin of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve wore garments made of a fingernail-type substance. After they sinned God took away this Divinely provided clothing. Since it was Eve who was essentially responsible for this loss, our fingernails – which recall these clothes – are said to bring harm to pregnant women. Of course, this is a spiritual and not a scientific matter.
  29. Amot Shel Halacha (by Rabbi Ari Enkin), Mekor Chaim (Chavot Ya'ir) 260