The traditional Sabbath (Shabbat) for orthodox/traditional Jews, as we've been practicing for thousands of years, is from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. Of the many customs that are practiced, one is always among the most favorite for all observers. That would be the large, warm meal served for Shabbat lunch. Basically, this meal is usually eaten around noon, Saturday. Three meals are eaten during Shabbat, all of them mandatory.
The Talmud discusses the way of the Karaites, a Jewish fanatic group of ancient Israel, who believed only in the written Torah (i.e.- the Bible), and not in the Talmud. The Talmud contains the Mishnah, which is a large set of typically short discussions on laws (a paragraph or so). Orthodox Jews believe that this portion of the Talmud was passed down from G-d to Moses on Mt. Sinai, as the Bible was spoken to Moses in the same way, at the same time. This has been the view for all of Israelite-Jewish history. I'm not telling you what to believe, I'm just giving some background.
One of the ways that the Karaites differed was that they were extreme literalists of the Bible. What's relative to my past Shabbat was the Karaite perspective, taken literally from a Deuteronomy passage, which says that there is to be no flame in a home on Shabbat. Orthodox Jews do not light fires, or deal with fires at all on Shabbat, but the Karaites felt this meant you could not have any light in your house, or have an oven on...while the rabbis long before felt that the law meant one could not kindle fires, but could have light from before or food in a sealed oven from before the sabbath, and could thus eat hot food on the holy day. In response to the extremist Karaites, the rabbis of the Sanhedrin, the high legal court of ancient Israel, integrated into Jewish law the requirement to eat hot food on Shabbat. This was a sort of institutionalization of the rejection of the Karaite sect.
That being said, the Shabbat lunch meal is a great time of happiness, where friends and families get together to hold this traditional, custom-filled meal. A friend of mine had her birthday yesterday, and decided to cook up a big lunch. I went by her place on Friday to help cook, all of which must be fully finished before Shabbat starts, and got a small taste of what we were going to have.
We prepared all the food in a great hurry, realizing that we had started too late. In other words, I watched her prepare, and I stirred what needed to be stirred or chopped what needed to be chopped. Here was the menu:
Garlic crusted chicken breasts; one spicy variation,
Peanut sauce & cilantro noodles (the best),
Green bean something or other...
And for dessert there were two ridiculously rich, overkill cakes. One was a peanut butter and dark chocolate combo, which tasted like 10 Reese's cups packed into every bite, and the other was a three-layer chocolate cake which was nearly as rich as fudge. I watched as my friend made these, taking about nine chocolate bars, melting them in a pot, and then pouring the hot chocolate layer by layer into the pan.
Saturday was quite the day, filled with me over-eating all these delicacies, having the now traditional shots of vodka, discussing Torah (Jacob got his wives in the portion of the week-- keyword, plural wives), and meeting new friends.
I'm sure my family and friends worry that I don't eat enough, but rest assured, I did this weekend.