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What are the basic halachic requirements for a Shabbat or holiday meal?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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 • We are commanded to “delight” on the Shabbat.1 This obligates us to have pleasure on Shabbat by partaking of appetizing and high-end foods and drinks. The average person takes pleasure in eating meat more than other foods, and enjoys wine more than other beverages—thus it is customary to eat meat and drink wine on Shabbat.

The average person takes pleasure in eating meat more than other foods, and enjoys wine more than other beverages?thus it is customary to eat meat and drink wine on Shabbat
• It is proper to eat fish2 by all the Shabbat meals,3 unless a person is disgusted by fish or is adversely affected by its consumption.

• Ideally, each Shabbat meal should consist of at least two cooked dishes.4

• One should eat at least two ounces of bread (Challah) during each Shabbat meal. According to a more lenient opinion, one ounce is sufficient.5

• On holidays we are commanded to rejoice. Rejoicing is accomplished through drinking wine6 and eating delicious foods. It is therefore customary to prepare even more foods for Yom Tov meals than for Shabbat. It is also a special Mitzvah to eat meat on holidays.7 

Footnotes

  • 1. Isaiah 58:13.
  • 2. The fish and meat (or poultry) courses should be eaten as two separate courses. Furthermore, one should eat and drink something -- to "cleanse" the mouth, between the two courses. See "Why aren’t fish and meat eaten together?" (http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/555,2079830/Why-aren-t-fish-and-meat-eaten-together.html).
  • 3. Aside for adding to the array of delicious dishes served at the Shabbat table, there are kabbalistic reasons for this practice as well.
  • 4. Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chaim 242.
  • 5. Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chaim 274.
  • 6. This applies to men. Women satisfy their obligation to rejoice by receiving a new article of clothing or jewelry in honor of each holiday.
  • 7. Shulchan Aruch Admur Hazaken 529.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Holidays » General Information » Holiday Information

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Yom Tov
Jewish Holiday.
Challah
A loaf of bread. Usually refers to: 1) The section of dough separated and given to the priest (today that section is burnt). 2) The sweetened, soft bread customarily consumed at the Sabbath meals.