In a previous post we have seen that we have a mitzva (commandment) to rejoice on the shabat and festivals and in another post we have discussed what rejoicing entails for festivals. Now we will see in a bit more detail what it means to "rejoice" on shabat (which is called oneg in Hebrew, in contrast to simcha for festivals).
First the Talmud:
Wherewith does one show his delight therein? — Rab Judah son of R. Samuel b. Shilath said in Rab’s name: With a dish of beets, large fish, and heads of garlic. R. Hiyya b. Ashi said in Rab’s name: Even a trifle, if it is prepared in honor of the Sabbath, is delight. What is it [the trifle]? — Said R. Papa: A pie of fish-hash.
(Talmud, Shabat 118b)
There are some people who give kabbalistic reasons for the fish-eating, I’d tend to the explanation that fish was something that the sages liked. Fish is still commonly eaten as a first course on shabat. But I have never met anyone who insisted on eating heads of garlic – although now that I think about it the dishes in our community do have a lot of garlic in them…
Ok, let’s fast forward to Rambam who has more detailed ideas about shabat delight:
What is meant by [Sabbath] delight? This refers to our Sages’ statement that a person must prepare a particularly sumptuous dish and a pleasantly flavored beverage for the Sabbath.
A person is obligated to eat three meals on the Sabbath: one in the evening, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.
Eating meat and drinking wine on the Sabbath is a form of pleasure for a person, provided this is within his [financial] capacity.
(Rambam, Mishne Tora, Hilchot Shabat 30)
Summarized, you have have three good and plentiful meals with a good drink. What about the meat? I have been told several times that it is absolutely necessary to eat meat on shabat. The text is not as strong as the part about meat on festivals which reads "Men should eat meat and drink wine, for there is no happiness without partaking of meat". Here it is clearer that meat and wine are added because these are foods that usually give pleasure. The intent is that you eat something you like, which is also how it is explained by the commentators (see footnote 37 which references Shulchan Aruch HaRav 242:2, Mishnah Berurah 242:1, I’ve also seen mentioned Magen Avraham 696:15, Darkei Teshuvah 89:19, Shaagas Aryeh 65). Even Chabad says it’s not required!
In other words, what exactly the menu should consist of is entirely up to the tastes of the individual, with the stipulation that it be the best he can afford. The main thing is how you enjoy a meal—not how others think you should enjoy it. On the contrary, for people such as yourself, eating meat may be counter to Isaiah’s “delighting the Shabbat.”
(Moshe Goldman: Do I Have to Eat Meat on Shabbat?)
Oh, and let’s not forget the most important delight (of course only if you’re married, only with your wife, at the appropriate times, yada yada):
Sexual relations are considered a dimension of Sabbath pleasure.
(Rambam, Mishne Tora, Hilchot Shabat 30:14)