Thursday, August 18, 2011

What CAN I do on Shabbat? Shabbos-Friendly Activities

You've heard it before (and maybe you've even said it), "Shabbat is so restrictive. All you can do is go to synagogue." And reenforcing that perception, a Google search looking for activities allowed on Shabbat only returns pages and pages of things you can't do on Shabbat. For someone new to Shabbat, you're left wading through all the prohibitions and must figure out what's left when you rule everything else out.

I'm here to assure you that Shabbat is fun, peaceful, and can be filled with many activities! But as many people say, you can't understand the peace of Shabbat until you do it. 

Here is a list of ideas to get you thinking about the possibilities of Shabbat! Please feel free to add more Shabbat-friendly activities in the comments section! (After all, I'm a pretty boring person, so I'm sure I don't know the full breadth of possibility!)
  • Napping (my favorite!)
  • Studying Torah subjects
  • Reading
  • Reading to your kids (or other people's kids!)
  • Walks outdoors (be careful of eruv, distance, and exercise issues)
  • "Marital relations"
  • Playing with your kids
  • Socializing outdoors, in homes, or in the synagogue
  • Snacking (Calories don't count on Shabbat, but my scale calls Shabbat's bluff)
  • Singing
  • Checkers
  • Chess
  • Charades
  • Card games
  • Mah jong
  • Dominoes
  • Bananagrams or Scrabble (check with your rabbi about specifics)
  • Possibly baseball, basketball, or other outdoor games (check with your rabbi). I haven't inquired into this, but games like kickball and soccer seem like a bad idea if played on non-parking lot/driveway surfaces.
For games, remember that you can't write down scores or write as part of the game. However, there are other ways to keep score, such as a pile of jelly beans. 

In short, it's amazing how fast Shabbat goes. It's over before you know it, and you didn't accomplish half the things you wanted to (usually reading-wise). You will never lack things to do on Shabbat, I assure you. Assuming you want to do anything at all! Some weeks, you just need to disengage from the entire world, and that's okay too.


  1. You forgot the most important thing of all!!! EAT :) My all-time favorite and a mitzvah too!

  2. Have a picnic. You can do this on the living room floor or in the backyard (if you have one) if there is no eruv.

    Tell/listen to stories.

    Go outside and see how many different kinds of birds or flowers or whatever you can spot (this can be a contest).

    Sing songs.

  3. Keeping score (though not everybody likes to) is done easier with a large book and a playing card. The card progresses through the book as the score increases.

  4. I definitely agree with Susan B about singing! Even if you aren't so confident in your signing abilities, there's something so awesome about an entire table singing zemiros on Shabbos! Some are really fun!

  5. Reading!!! I subscribe to Binah and we buy the hamodia, mishpacha, and ami. Plus I've got tons of books!!! Shabbos is the only time I get a chance to read.

  6. Think about and appreciate life in general, your own life, the blessings it has, the challenges you're facing and what the possible message/lesson/action to take Hashem may be suggesting, the status of your most significant relationships and what can you do to improve them...focusing in feeling grateful and loved by Hashem...

  7. I used to enjoy shabs but hhonestly as a single guy it gets to be torture. Is only enjoyable in family so if you are alone and not inspired enough to go to a torah class it really is worst than 9 of av. The meals are enjoyable (ussually) but how much can I sleep or read and I find it to be burdensome.