Jewish prayer or blessing recited over a cup of wine immediately before the meal on the eve of the Sabbath or a major festival, acknowledging the sanctity of the day that is beginning. It is usually performed by the head of the household, but it may involve all family members. After the recitation, each person sips wine from the cup. In the Ashkenazi tradition, two loaves of bread on the table signify the manna gathered by the Israelites during their years of wandering in the wilderness.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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