20 Tips to Simplify Shabbat Prep

New to Sabbath keeping? Here's 20 tips to help simplify preparing for Shabbat | Land of Honey

When I first started keeping Shabbat Fridays were a bit overwhelming. The afternoons were a flurry of getting things cleaned, and cooking up a huge amount of food, and, oh no, I need to run to the store. That was really frustrating to me, especially since I was used to Fridays being the happy weekend kick off of relaxation and free time. It felt a little backwards when it became my busiest day of the week. And that's because it takes practice to learn to rest well. If you're not used to preparing ahead of time for a day of no work, that honestly is a bit tricky until you're good at it. But things will get better! 

If you're in the stage where preparing for Shabbat is frustrating and overwhelming -- keep practicing! You will get there. With each week that goes by, preparing for the Sabbath gets easier. It's natural now to look ahead and anticipate what our needs will be on Shabbat, and planning for those needs is no longer the chore that it was. Here are a few tips that I've learned to have a less hectic day on Friday and more peace on Shabbat.

20 Tips for Simpler Shabbat Preparation

1. Prepare your heart first. Why have you decided to honor the Sabbath day? Did you feel the Holy Spirit leading you? Did you and your spouse decide to be obedient to YHWH's instructions? Have you decided to let go of traditions to try things the Savior's way? It's important to remind yourself of that when the week is hectic and you start to feel overwhelmed. 

2. Plan ahead. Almost everyone who participated in our Shabbat Survey mentioned how much easier things are to get done when you get a jump-start Thursday or Wednesday or even before. Having a plan can alleviate the stress of 'it's-Friday-afternoon-and-I'm-not-ready.' Having even just one thing done going into Friday makes things feel much more under control. Maybe that's getting groceries on Monday, jotting down a to do list, or filling up on gas after work on Thursday.

3. Make note of anything that needs done before Shabbat. If you are a list writer, jot down what for sure needs done ahead of time. Not just meal prep for the Sabbath, also consider upcoming bills that need paid or library books to be returned. Are you low on diapers or medication? Will you need to get gas so you can make it to congregation? Having it written down means we are more likely to remember it.

4. Recognize that things don't need to be elaborate. YHWH does not require us to have spotless homes, four course dinners, or candles lit to welcome Shabbat, so feel free to simplify! If there is one specific thing that helps you to rest well, focus on that and let the rest go.

5. Have a go to Shabbat meal on hand. Despite our best plans and intentions there are going to be times that things get away from us. Having non-perishables or slow to perish items on hand to serve keeps us from violating Shabbat when that happens. Here are some ideas for stocking your pantry for Shabbat prep.

6. Learn to rest when everything isn't perfect.  We are not asked to have everything in order or all our to-do list items checked off before Shabbat. Make rest the goal, instead of a spotless home or traditional rituals. Simplifying our expectations allows us to enjoy the simple things instead of obsessing over how things could be in a perfect world.

7. Know some quick last minute snacks to prepare. It takes just a minute to blend up some yogurt and fruit and pour it into a popsicle mold for a great snack the next day. The same for kosher gelatin. The rest of it is just letting it chill. These recipes are great to turn to when Shabbat is closing in and the fridge is less than filled.

8. Divide tasks among family members. You don't have to do this by yourself. Assign appropriate tasks for each person in your household to have done by the end of the week. Everyone in the family can have different cleanup jobs, dad can pick up a loaf of bread for dinner, and a younger child can pick out which Bible story to read on Shabbat.

9. Figure out what works for you. I have seen several lists of how to get ready for Shabbat, and they are mostly things that would not fit in my life at all. Setting the dining room table for Shabbat dinner the Sunday before? Mine gets used for projects all week long, so that's out. Taking Friday afternoon off? Not usually an option. But if that helps you get ready, then go for it! There is not a right or wrong way to prepare for a day off; decide what works in your schedule and go from there.

10. Log off digitally before Shabbat. Signing out of social media lessens distractions on preparation day, making it easier to get the menial tasks out of the way and to spiritually prepare ourselves. Switching your email to 'off' after work on Friday can become a habit that says, "time to get ready for Shabbat."

11. Grill for Friday evening dinner. You've spent the day scrubbing the dishes and cleaning house. What's more frustrating than kicking off Shabbat with a sink load of dirty pots and pans? Grilling part of your meal can cut down on things to clean up afterwards.

12. Use glass, Pyrex type containers. Having my Shabbat foods stored in glass, oven-proof containers makes things easier in a couple of ways. These can double as serving dishes and go into the oven for foods I am reheating. After our meal I can put the lid back on and store it, without any extra cleanup. 

13. Have a special Sabbath basket for kids. Fill it with Shabbat appropriate books, games, and movies so that children can learn which activities are appropriate for the set apart day. This can also make the day more restful to you, as bored children can be sent to the basket to find something to do.

14. Surround yourself with reminders. Write in your planner, put a Scripture on the importance of honoring Shabbat on your bathroom mirror, or schedule reminders in your phone. This brings to mind that Shabbat is coming and we are to be ready for it.

15. Have a potluck meal. If you know like-minded believers or are involved in a congregation consider hosting a covered dish meal on Shabbat. It is much easier to prepare one or two things for a group meal than to do each thing yourself.

16. Empty the dishwasher. I like to have my dishwasher emptied going into the set apart day so that dirty dishes can be placed inside the next day. Another idea would be using paper products to cut down on cleanup.

17. Use a slow cooker and consider a second one. It's hard to get much more convenient than coming home from congregation to a hot meal at the ready, where you have nothing to do but dish it up. I've also heard a couple of people say they like having two so they can have a hot breakfast, and lunch, or lunch, and dinner ready to go.

18. Double recipes throughout the week. This is a great way to have food prepared ahead of time without the extra time commitment of setting aside Thursday evening or Friday afternoon. Make an extra large pot of soup on Tuesday or grill extra chicken Thursday to get a jump start on meals for the Sabbath.

19. Have books and study materials on hand. In addition to copies of Scripture, consider expanding your resource library to assist with your studies on Shabbat. A designated shelf of books can be a place to head on the rest day when you are looking for something to do or want to learn more. This is especially important if you don't attend a congregation. It eliminates the what am I going to do tomorrow question.

20. Remember you don't have to get everything done! When Shabbat comes what's done is done and that's enough. Things can wait. It really is okay to rest while the kitchen is messy and the laundry isn't done, in fact YHWH requires us to. Rest now and take care of the rest later.

20 tips to make your Shabbat prep smoother and your life easier | Land of Honey

What have you found helpful to get ready for Shabbat?

Living the Torah Portions: Shelach

Living the Torah Portions: Shelach to Balak | Land of Honey

Shelach - Send - Numbers 13-15:41
Eat grapes, figs, and/or pomegranate
In Shelach, men are sent from each tribe of Israel to spy out the Promised Land, and they returned with an enormous cluster of grapes, as well as figs and pomegranates. If possible enjoy these fruits and imagine a land where these produce abundantly. Consider YHWH's gracious provision giving us fruit trees and vines that produce year after year with very little effort on our part. Where do you see his provision in your life? Take things a step further by planting your very own grape vine.
The fruit of the Promised Land - Torah Portion Shelach | Land of Honey

Korach - Korah - Numbers 16-18:32
Make a tzedekah box from Chai and Home
This week is an opportunity to focus on tithing. Something we overlook is that the Israelites tithed on not just their paycheck or business profits but on what they gained. Including finances, but also animals born to them, produce that was harvested and so on. Could you share a portion of your garden harvest this week? Children could make their own tzedekah box to learn to start setting aside part of their money as an offering to YHWH. Adults could spend time in prayer about how they can best give to YHWH's kingdom, even when financially difficult.
DIY Lego Tzedekah Box to teach kids about tithing | Land of Honey

Chukat - Statute - Numbers 19-22:1
Visit a farm
Since this week's portion includes the details of the red heifer sacrifice, namely that it must be without blemish, why not take a trip to see some cows? Whether it's getting a full farm tour or just driving past a pasture take a good look at the herds you see. There's not many "without blemish," right? Use this as a family talking point or personal devotion of the value of Yahusha as the one perfect sacrifice.
The Red Heifer - Torah Portion Chukat | Land of Honey

Balak - Balak - Numbers 22:2-25:9
Greek Three Bean Salad from Flavor the Moments
Balaam beat his donkey three times before the donkey spoke, and spoke three blessings over Israel. Enjoy a three bean salad, three layer cake, or other three ingredient dish and pause to remember the times it took us several tries to recognize the hand of YHWH in our life. You could also make it a point to speak a few blessings over yourself, family, business, ministry, and so on this week.

Three Bean Salad for Torah Portion Balak | Land of Honey

Menorahs in Scripture

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How familiar are you with menorahs? Growing up in the Christian faith, I don't think I ever heard them mentioned. Sure, I read the descriptions of the Tabernacle and later the Beit Hamikdash but I don't think I ever paused enough to consider what that looked like. A candelabra with three branches on either side of one central branch, a place for seven lights. I know for sure I never saw one of these, in person or even a picture, at any of the churches we attended, the Christian camps I went to, Bible colleges I visited as a prospective student, or ministries I have worked for. 

Is that a big deal? If you believe that all Scripture is useful for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), it matters that we are completely ignoring a symbol that YHWH gave us. While menorahs are mentioned more than 40 times in Scripture they actually appear far more often. Think of the unspoken details of cultural events in your world. A friend mentioning they were at a high school football game speaks volumes of details I instantly assume, without verbal communication. I know it would have been on a Friday night, it was probably very cold, the marching band played the school fight song, the stands are usually full, popcorn is for sale, what color jerseys our team wore, the layout of the place and so on. There is no need for my friend to describe these details because I know exactly how these games work. But if you aren't familiar with high school football, a lot of this is going to be lost on you. You might get the gist of the story and have a rough idea of what it was like but these details are going to go right past you.

The menorah is a detail like this. Yahusha would have seen its light each time he was at the Beit Hamikdash. It would have been nearby when he spoke the words, "My sheep know my voice." It was there when he cleansed the Temple. Many could have heard his teachings while looking at the light of the menorah. I missed that for a long time.

We should note that the appropriate number of branches for a menorah is what YHWH instructed: seven. Of the limited menorahs we see today, I would estimate that 75% are the nine-branched Hanukkiahs that were created for the man-made celebration of Hanukkah. While that is similar to YHWH's design, it is not what he commanded. Since YHWH's thinking is far above ours we can be certain there is a reason he chose his light to be represented in sevens.

The menorah is significant enough to YHWH that he had it put in the Tabernacle and weaved the significance of seven and light throughout his word. Yahusha spoke of it often as well. Let's get better acquainted with it, shall we?

15 Places we see Menorahs in Scripture:

1. Exodus 25 is where YHWH first orders a menorah to be made and described what it looked like. Can you imagine how beautiful that must have been? Made from one piece of gold with details of almond blossoms on it. This provided the light for the priests in the Holy Place.

2. The first sentence of Scripture goes like this in Hebrew, Beresheet bara Elohim et hashamayim va'et ha'aretz. The phrase is seven words and contains a beautiful picture. The first three words refer to YHWH (the one who was in the beginning, he created), and the last three refer to earth (the heavens and the earth). If you picture these words taking either side of the menorah, you are left with the word et in the middle as the main branch that brings them together. What is the word et? In Hebrew it is simply spelled aleph-tov, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Most of us are familiar with the Alpha and Omega translation of this word that is used as a title for Yahusha. When we pair each word of the first sentence of Scripture to the branches of the menorah we can see that Yahusha is what connects us to YHWH.

3. Luke 4:16-21 - When Yahusha read the prophecy of Isaiah 61 in the synagogue something very significant happened that modern readers don't see. The tradition of synagogues in that day was to have three elders on other side of the reader standing in the bema seat. So when Yahusha began to read, "The Spirit of YHWH is upon me," the picture in front of those in attendance was that of a human menorah, where once again Yahusha was in the center.

4. Revelation 1:4 - Did you know that there are seven spirits of YHWH, not just one? This verse tells us that he has seven spirits standing before his throne. It's not a far leap to see the parallel of the seven spirits in Heaven where the seven lights of the menorah were in the Beit Hamikdash.

5. John had a vision of seven menorahs in Revelation 1:12, and Yahusha decoded this for us. The seven menorahs that you saw are the seven Israelite congregations. There is crazy significance to Yahusha using the symbol of the menorah to represent his people!

6. Revelation 2:5 - I will remove the menorah from you unless you make teshuvah. If we don't repent he takes the symbol from the faith from us. Do you see a lot of menorahs in faiths that supposedly follow YHWH? In Judaism 'menorahs' are falsely represented as nine branched for the most part. This passage also leads me to believe that if we have repented of our sins and turned to YHWH that the menorah would be with us, in the spiritual sense of Yahusha's light, but also physically.

7. Yahusha makes mention that he walks in the midst of menorahs in Revelation 2:1. We can see the allegorical sense of his presence with his congregations, but we shouldn't stop it there. Yahusha surrounded himself with menorahs the many times he visited the Beit Hamikdash and has menorahs before him in heaven.

8. The Seven Feasts of YHWH can also be seen as a menorah. If you take their chronological order, Shavuot falls in the center. Significant events that occurred at this feast are the giving of the Torah and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Another picture of Heaven connecting with earth like in Beresheet 1.

9. Zechariah 4:11 - YHWH showed two menorahs to Zechariah in a vision to teach him the deeper truth of the two houses of Israel.

10. John 8:12 - When Yahusha said, "I am the light." There are two significant pieces here. Firstly, the root of the word Torah is or, meaning light in Hebrew. I can't help but think he made a little play announcing that he is the living Torah. And second, the Greek word that is used here is phos, which of course means light but also speaks of the lamp that is emitting said light. Now if he said that he was the lamp that emits the light, which lamp do you think he had in mind? There was and is no light of more significance than the menorah. Could he have been saying, "I am the menorah,"?

11. Yahusha did many things in sevens. The book of Yochanan contains seven instances where Yahusha said, "I am." Scripture records him healing seven times on Shabbat.

12. When Jerusalem is sieged by King Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonians carried off many temple items including the menorahs, in Jeremiah 52:19. Made of solid gold these were incredibly valuable (millions of dollars each in today's money), but the spiritual loss was more devastating for the people of Judah who had disobeyed YHWH.

13. Revelation 11:4 - The two witnesses in the last days (houses of Judah and Ephraim) are likened to menorahs before YHWH. 

14. Isaiah 11:2 - Attributes seven ruachs to the Messiah. Of YHWH, of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of might, of knowledge, and of the fear of YHWH.

Matthew 5:15 - A parable hidden in good advice. You wouldn't put a menorah under a basket. Yahusha using this terminology shows us that he expected his followers then and now to be familiar with what a menorah is.

There is a lot to be learned from each of these Scriptures but what really gets me is that last one. Yahusha intentionally spoke in ways that could be understood by those in his day as well as for the next thousands of years. His agricultural allegories show us this. We can understand the Parable of the Sower because gardening and food production is more or less still works the same. Him using the menorah in a parable clearly shows us that he didn't want us to get rid of them. And like he communicated to John in Revelation he sees his people as menorahs.

Shavuot Scripture Reading List

Bring two loaves of bread to YHWH. - Leviticus 23:17 | Land of Honey

Happy Shavuot if you are celebrating today! If you already celebrated I hope your set apart time was a lovely burst of growth and truth. If you are new to celebrating the Festivals of YHWH, hang in there! It gets better each time, as we understand more. The best is still ahead.

I wanted to share a few passages of Scripture that I enjoy reading at this time of year to prepare for and celebrate Shavuot. Since this is a time to reflect on the Word of YHWH and the Ruach HaKodesh I picked Scriptures related to that, but this is by no means an extensive list! The Set Apart Spirit is mentioned hundreds of times throughout all the books from the very Beresheet to the judges and prophets and the Psalms, Yahusha spoke of the Spirit, and it appears throughout Revelation. Not to mention how hard pressed you would be to find a passage of the Word that doesn't emphasize or point to the importance of the instructions of YHWH. So feel free to add your favorites to this. Here's a few of mine.

Scriptures to read during Shavuot | Land of Honey

Scriptures to Read During Shavuot:Exodus 19-20 - the giving of the Covenant after the Israelites left Egypt.
Vayikra 23:15-21 - this passage is about Shavuot itself.
Deuteronomy 16:9-12 - this passage gives further instruction for Shavuot.
Ten Commandments - this is in Exodus 20:1-17. I like to emphasize these because of course the infamous Golden Calf story also happened around Shavuot, so it's important to know how to live correctly so we also do not break Covenant with YHWH.
Book of Ruth - this is traditional to read because the story takes place around the spring harvest time, like Shavuot itself. It also beautifully parallels the story of many of us who weren't born into a Torah based community but chose that path with the help of a redeemer. 
Jeremiah 31:33 - the Torah will be written on our hearts.
Ezekiel 36:27 - talks about the Holy Spirit helping us to keep YHWH's instructions.
2 Chronicles 8:13 - Israel kept the Feasts under King Shlomo.
John 14:15-29 - Yahusha talks about the Ruach HaKodesh.
Luke 24:49 - Yahusha's instruction to wait.
Acts 1:4-5 - the disciples wait to be immersed.
Acts 2 - this is where the Ruach HaKodesh was poured out on believers, just ten days after the ascension of Yahusha. It happened at Shavuot. 
Book of Acts - I love Acts because it is about those who lived both as followers of Yahusha and as keepers of Torah. This is the lifestyle we should have today.
1 Corinthians 12 - the gifts of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22 - the fruit of the Spirit.

Happy Shavuot! | Land of Honey