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Shabbat Rest

Shabbat Rest

A Change of Focus


Shabbat is an island in time. From sundown Friday until nightfall Saturday, we transcend the worries and cares of material life. G‑d created for six days and rested on the seventh; by resting on Shabbat, we attest to G‑d’s creation of the world, and bring our lives into sync with the divine cycle of creation and rest.

“Work,” as it relates to Shabbat, is not physical exertion, but what the Torah considers to be creative work. For example, writing or cooking is forbidden; carrying a piece of furniture across the room is not.


On Shabbat, your job doesn’t existWhether you are a manual laborer or a businessperson, on Shabbat your job doesn’t exist. Also, no shopping or any other business transactions on this day.

The Home

The phone, TV, computers, microwave and dishwasher fall silent, as no electrical devices are operated on Shabbat. Lights, heaters and air conditioners are turned on before Shabbat (timers can be used to turn them on or off at preset times). All cooking and baking is done before Shabbat, and food is kept warm on food-warming devices.

Heavy cleaning, gardening or making repairs are also off limits. We also avoid handling objects associated with weekday activities, such as money, matches and pens.


We don’t ride in cars, buses, trains or planes. We also don’t carry an object from an enclosed area, such as a house or a fenced yard, into an unenclosed area, or vice versa, or four cubits (approx. 6 feet) in an unenclosed area.


All of the laws of Shabbat are suspended in case of a life-threatening emergency. For example, if a person falls ill and there is even the slightest chance that the condition is life-threatening, we call a doctor, drive to the hospital, and so on.

The spirit of Shabbat rest is no less important than its technical observance. Avoid talking about business or other weekday matters. Shabbat is a time for spiritual pursuits—Torah study, prayer, and quality time with the family. A time to touch base with your soul.

Click here for more on the topic of Shabbat rest.

Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
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Anonymous August 10, 2015

Shabat Thank you Reply

eric July 30, 2015

Lighting Candles I am sorry to say, I do not observe Shabbat with the exception of lighting candles, sharing a glass of wine with whichever of my children are home (wife left years ago) and having a Challah. I know it's wrong but We also include my Father via an iPad. We also try to do Havdalah when we can. I wasn't raised orthodox and I feel tremendous guilt and think I am a bad Jew. I am charitable and donate to the Temple when I go. I don't know why I'm sharing this but perhaps someday I can be a Better Jew. Reply

Herman 77073 July 30, 2015

Understood. I am just now learning about my heritage. Reply

Mr victor fatherheart consoler Nsugbe, Nigeria June 7, 2012

Shabbos Rest Dear Rabbi Freeman, Shalom i love your article but in most cases if a person is working for a non shabbos observer they does't feel happy with the loss of profit throughout that day. Reply

Myriam Obadia Ashkelon, Israel June 7, 2012

Shabbat candles I am issued of anon-practicing Jewish family. A few years ago I resumed lighting the Shabbat candles. I could hardly believe the feeling of peace which settle on me. As if all the stresses of my life had lifted from my shoulders and been replace by a warm and cosy blanket.
It is no trouble at all keeping Shabbat. In fact, I look forward to it as my "happy place" Reply

Eugina G Herrera New York, New York June 6, 2012

Shabbat Is the molding of spiritual observance with the Ten Commandments, G-d glorified his own glory, and G-d rested from all his work and we too will celebrate and rest with G-d's Creation to continue glorifying his observance Reply

Mr. A. Langer Green Bay, Wisconsin November 12, 2010

Shabbat and Reality Shabbat is a revelation of kingship, royal behavior, and pleasures. G-d, man, and the children of Israel work six days for shabbat. Stated clearly are the 39 activities that are classified as work. So on shabbat we celebrate, exult and rest with the divine presence. It is so simple it comes as no suprise that many overlook it. Week after week my accomplishments and work will improve and increase the Shabbat and my appreciationfor it Reply

Anonymous ma., mass. November 9, 2010

Shabbat A day of rest is a commandment and i like to learn what G-d wants me to do. so I do it to please Him...I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me. Also when I am not in the mood,I have not been as prayerful , or i am distracted by the wider world then I could do less, end Shabbat a little early. But I have had a fear instilled which motivates me to observe Shabbat in those moments. This fear in turn pays off retroactively. For fear or for love i obey Shabbat. This is one of the ten commandments. I have always wanted to obey all ten. I wonder if it is the call from Sinai from Moses for all who chooses to do it? Reply

Michelle Andre cc, fl November 8, 2010

I am in process of conversion and am finding that my body breaks down on Friday night thru Saturday. I want to do nothing but appreciate the Torah and be at peace with G-d! I think my friends and family are beginning to get the message that I don't answer my phone during shabbos! I thank G_d for bringing me closer and eliminating my belief that I was not able to tap directly into G-d! Wow what so many people are missing!!! Reply

Joshua McGhee Bryantown, MD October 31, 2010

Shabbat I feel as if G-d has made us little creators after His likeness, and we, too, can rest after our six days of common creating. May we be creators for His purposes and take rest in His provisional command to spend time with Him on Shabbat! Reply

Dee Lee February 4, 2010

Shabbat Once a non-Jewish friend told me about her wonderful holidays that occur with the seasons. A winter holiday, a springtime holiday, and such. Then I told her that I was glad for her that she had these good times, but we Jewish people have our holidays around the year, but also, we have a holiday every week! Week after week. It is Shabbat. No TV! No telephone! No computer! Just family and friends and schul and prayer and rest and a walk and wine, bread, and good food prepared the day before! And this holiday starts at sundown and goes on until Havdalah, and it happens every week. What a joy is Shabbat. Reply

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