Sabbath Prep and the Idol of Cleanliness

Sabbath Prep and the Idol of Cleanliness | Land of Honey

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Can we talk about 'prep day' and this notion of 'getting ready for Sabbath'? 

When I first started observing the Sabbath, I think about 90% of the related internet content consisted of cleaning checklists. Long ones too: vacuum the floors, straighten up the house, take out the trash, wash the dishes, make the beds, set the table, clean the bathrooms. And don't forget about making a fancy dinner, and then tons of food for tomorrow, empty your inbox, bathe the kids, and plan a special activity. It's not surprising that much of the Hebrew community refers to Friday as prep day, because that's how long all of this takes.

There are a few problems with this system. Firstly, Scripture does not teach that this thorough cleaning is required of us for the Sabbath day. But also, keeping Sabbath is meant for all of YHWH's children, not just the retirees and the stay-at-home-mom families. When we (unintentionally or otherwise) present to others this enormous checklist of things to do before Shabbat we are telling them that if you can't juggle in this extra load of work then they can't keep the Sabbath day. That is a tragedy! When we make the Sabbath more about having a clean house than about relationship with YHWH, it becomes an idol. May he forgive us if we make having a prep day for Shabbat a requirement, because he didn't.

Friends, I know that none of you want to place a stumbling block before others or to make Sabbath keeping seem like a burden. But can you see how this pervasive mentality of Friday as a house cleaning day can be a hindrance to those that work or have other commitments before the Sabbath? I also know that many of you feel overwhelmed with getting ready for the Sabbath each week. And honestly when I would put my effort into those checklists it did not leave me with an attitude that loved the set apart day. Why are we clinging to this tradition of near impossible standards if it causes frustration and resentment with one of YHWH's commandments? What does that do to our relationship with him, or to our spirits?

Is it nice to have a clean home? Yes...but it's not a commandment, nor is it a prerequisite to having a day of rest. A clean house is nice but it should never come before our relationship with YHWH, and it shouldn't come at the cost of discouraging others from honoring the Sabbath. It really is both possible and permissible to have a day of rest, even if you don't have a day to dedicate to preparing for it. What if you just stopped to rest on the seventh day, even if the laundry wasn't done and the beds hadn't been made? What if we showed others that Shabbat keeping is doable even if you work full-time or juggle a hundred things each week?

Yes, keeping Shabbat calls for intention. But I think most of the time spent preparing should be working to keep ourselves free of other commitments on the Sabbath, not on having an immaculate house. There is no shame in eating simple foods like sandwiches, green salads, veggies with hummus, cheese and crackers, fruit, or other snack items that don't require prep work the day before. Don't forget that in Genesis 1, YHWH himself rests on the Sabbath day. Please note, he did not spend day six cleaning up his work from the rest of the week. He just rests. Give yourself and others permission to do the same. 

Is getting ready for the Sabbath day feeling overwhelming? Here's what to remember. | Land of Honey


  1. This is beautifully shared, and oh so important! Love this article!

  2. Wonderful! Sharing on my Facebook page Donalacasa: The Lady of the House.

  3. Another good read! Thank you for bringing to the forefront that a sparkling clean, perfectly organized home and a six course meal are not a commandment! When first realizing I was serious about setting aside the 7th day...whoa! I live with my 88 year old mother in order to care for her. She is not a 7th day believer so...well you know. Trying to get everything ready without seeming to make a bigger deal than what I wanted her to notice was tough. It's working out however!