Modern Commentary

Torah & Spirit
Family Life






A Karaite Shabbat

We begin by preparing all food before Shabbat (Exodus 16.23). ALL fire being extinguished before sunset (Exodus 35.3). This implies, among other things, that all incandescent lights have been turned off, and that we don't light candles for Shabbat. At sunset we pray Tefillat `Erev for Shabbat, then return to our homes from the Beit HaKeneset and eat the Shabbat evening meal. There is no electricity used/purchased from the power company, consequently, there is neither heat nor air conditioning on during Shabbat (Isaiah 58.13). Some turn off the heat and electricity a few minutes before sundown. Only certain battery-powered items, switched on before Shabbat, are permissible - a benefit of modern technology. Needless to say, Thermos bottles and thermal underwear are also great boons of modern technology. Bi'ah (sexual intercourse) is forbidden on Shabbat (Exodus 20.8), as is leaving the boundaries of one's Moshav (city, town, village, or encampment), even crossing natural boundaries (i.e., rivers, streams, etc.) is forbidden, even if it runs through one's moshav (Exodus 16.29). Anything that is forbidden to us is also forbidden to anyone performing that act for us - intentionally or not, as in the Goy Shel Shabbat (Exodus 20.10).

During the day, after Tefillat Boqer (at sunrise), we return home to eat our meals. We spend the day reading (reading that is not Mela'khah), talking (but not about business or anything thing that could be considered Mela'khah), going for a stroll (within the confines of one's Moshav) and visiting friends (weather permitting), and generally relaxing. If one is fortunate enough to live in a place where there is a Karaite Beit Keneset, there may be gatherings in the late afternoon for study and discussion.

As to Mosa'ei Shabbat, day, night, when does Shabbat begin, end etc.:

`Al Pi Torah a day (a 24 hour day) begins and ends at sunset (c.f. Genesis 1: "Wayyehi `Erev Wayyehi Voqer Yom Ehad,... Sheni,...etc." - "And there was evening and there was morning, one day,...a second day,...etc."). Therefore Shabbat officially begins and ends at sunset. To be extra careful, we cease all Mela'khah a while before sunset (the exact amount of time is indeterminate - mandating a set amount would be adding to Torah, which is forbidden) on Friday and don't recommence Mela'khah until after Tefillat `Erev on Mosa'ei Shabbat which we begin a while (again no set amount of time) after sunset on Saturday evening.