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Shabbat: Changing One’s Conduct

 

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

One is required to ensure that even one’s general activities and comportment on Shabbat reflect the intended serenity of the day. The source for this requirement originates from the prophet Isaiah, who instructs us to modify our behavior on Shabbat in three very specific areas: the way we walk, the way we talk, and not to pursue our weekday interests.[1] Those practices which were instituted by the Prophets are known as “divrei kabbala”.

One is required to walk differently on Shabbat than one does during the week.[2] As such, some have the custom to take a different route when walking to the synagogue on Shabbat than one normally uses during the week. One should not run on Shabbat unless it is for the purpose of performing a mitzva.[3] In fact, we are told that one should always avoid making large strides unless absolutely necessary, as doing so is said to weaken one’s eyesight.[4] Going for long walks, however, is permitted on Shabbat.[5] So too, it is permitted to engage in running or jumping which is clearly done for enjoyment and recreation.[6] One is also permitted to run in order to escape rain or danger.[7] Exercising or any other bodily exertion is generally forbidden on Shabbat.[8]

One is not permitted to speak about things that run contrary to the spirit of Shabbat.[9] It is especially forbidden to discuss one’s plans and intentions for the conclusion of Shabbat and the coming week.[10] Some of the more common applications of such forbidden speech include: “I plan on driving downtown this evening”, “I’ll call you after Shabbat ends”, and “How much do you sell computers for?” One is permitted, however, to relate past events and adventures, even if they include mention of otherwise forbidden Shabbat activities.[11] For example, one may say things like: “This week we went to an amusement park” and “I saved up over $500 in order to be able to purchase the camera I bought last week”.[12]

It is interesting to note that merely thinking about one’s weekday affairs without discussing them is permitted.[13] One is also permitted to speak about matters of a mitzva nature even if it entails mentioning things that are ordinarily forbidden to speak about on Shabbat.[14] The custom of greeting others on Shabbat in a manner that is different than is done during the week is also derived from the requirement to speak differently on Shabbat.[15] Therefore, instead of greeting someone with the customary “hello” or “good morning” one is advised to use “Shabbat Shalom” instead. Some authorities even suggest that one only speak Hebrew on Shabbat owing to the sanctity of the day.[16]

It is forbidden to pursue one’s weekday interests on Shabbat even if one would not have to transgress any of the forbidden Shabbat activities by doing so.[17] Similarly, one may not engage in any activity which is done in order to prepare for Shabbat’s conclusion or otherwise makes one’s post-Shabbat activities any easier.[18] For example, it is forbidden to walk towards one’s place of employment on Shabbat in order to be able to immediately commence work the moment Shabbat ends.[19] Likewise, it is forbidden for one to wait at a bus stop on Shabbat in order to be able to board the bus immediately at the conclusion of Shabbat. Nevertheless, much of what has been discussed above may be permitted if being done for mitzva-related purposes.[20]


[1] Yeshayahu 58

[2] Shabbat 113a, O.C. 301:1, Mishna Berura 301:1

[3] O.C. 301:1

[4] Rema 301:1

[5] Rema O.C. 301:2

[6] O.C. 301:2

[7] Shemirat Shabbat 29:4

[8] Mishna Berura 301:7

[9] O.C. 307:1

[10] O.C. 307:1

[11] Rema O.C. 307:1

[12] Rambam, Hilchot Shabbat 23:18

[13] Shabbat 150a

[14] O.C. 306:6

[15] Be’er Heitev 307:5

[16] See Mishna Berura 307:5

[17] O.C. 306:1, Aruch Hashulchan O.C. 307:2

[18] Rambam, Hilchot Shabbat 24:1,2

[19] Eruvin 38b

[20] O.C. 306:3,6

 
 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

17 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Exercising or any other bodily exertion is generally forbidden on Shabbat.[8]

    צ”ה (צריך הרחבה)
    Particularly for kids, exercise in shabbat is a great source of fun, and not actually assur, and IMHO should be tolerated if not encouraged.

    It is forbidden to pursue one’s weekday interests on Shabbat even if one would not have to transgress any of the forbidden Shabbat activities by doing so.[17]

    WAY too broad. צ”ה again. I don’t even need to list counterexamples here, they are too obvious.

    More generally, the tone/approach of this post inculcates an attitude of perpetual fear and discomfort about the possibility of violating a Shabbat halacha (in most cases a rabbinic one!) which is quite incompatible with another “dvar kabalah” – וקראת לשבת ענג. Better to cultivate a state of enjoyable relaxation in which one will instinctively realize that these activities (the ones that are actually assur) are against the spirit of the day.

  2. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    “Exercising or any other bodily exertion is generally forbidden on Shabbat.[8]”

    r gartenberg of several hotels fame writes that some guests asked the klauzenberger rebbe if they can play handball. after explaining it to him, he said he sees no reason not to. later on shabbat, the rebbe said he walked by the handball court and remarked if i would have known what i saw you playing, i would not have allowed it.

    nevertheless, this issue would prob also be intertwined with the issue of playing with a ball on shabbat. (though it seems that rashi’s definition of the “ball” is a leather football.)

    “merely thinking about one’s weekday affairs without discussing” from the zmira “hirhurim mutarim”

  3. joel rich says:

    It is especially forbidden to discuss one’s plans and intentions for the conclusion of Shabbat and the coming week.[10] Some of the more common applications of such forbidden speech include: “I plan on driving downtown this evening”, “I’ll call you after Shabbat ends”, and “How much do you sell computers for?”
    =======================
    Isn’t the MB pretty clear this only refers to things forbidden to do on shabbat-e.g. you could say, I’ll speak to you after shabbat (rather than I will call)
    KT

  4. Ari Enkin says:

    Joel-

    That’s right. That doesnt contradict the examples I provided.

  5. joel rich says:

    Understood, just wanted to clarify.
    KT

  6. Joseph Kaplan says:

    ” In fact, we are told that one should always avoid making large strides unless absolutely necessary, as doing so is said to weaken one’s eyesight.[4]”

    What’s the purpose of putting this type of statement in this article? Do you really think, or does anyone really think today, that long strides weakens eyesight. I don’t blame the Remah for saying it. But to repeat it in the 21st century as if it is real makes us look foolish.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “Do you really think, or does anyone really think today, that long strides weakens eyesight”

    Could be interpreted to mean one “loses focus”

  8. Steve Brizel says:

    Obviously, if you leave your home for shul with enough time to get there on time, you won’t have to take long strides.

  9. Mair Zvi says:

    Perhaps this is a silly question, but I have long been puzzled by Shabbos being a propitious time to perform the mitzvah of pru urvu, while zorea, planting of seeds, is one of the 39 forbidden types of melacha on Shabbos.
    If sexual intercourse is not exactly the same as planting seeds in the earth, it’s at least a pretty good analogy and should possibly be a derivative of zorea.
    I heard from a gynecologist that it takes approximately 24-48 hours after insemination for fertilization or conception to occur. So perhaps by having intercourse on Shabbos, one can almost guarantee that conception will not occur on Shabbos.
    I honestly do not find this pshat completely convincing.
    Any other explanations for this seeming contradiction out there?

  10. Mr. Cohen says:

    Shevet Mussar, Chapter 42, paragraph 3:
    Many evils are caused by wasting time on Shabbat [instead of studying Torah] until the extra soul flees from them, and swears never to return to them on Shabbat if they continue to do this.

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    Mair Zvi-IIRC, there is a discussion in either Ksuvos or Shabbos about a chasan engaging in relations with his kalah ( Beilas Mitzvah) on Shabbos and whether the same is violative of the Melacha of Binyan.

  12. Ari Enkin says:

    Joseph, et al.

    I wrote “…we are told”; I didnt say I believe it! ;-)

  13. Nachum says:

    Mair: Nu, Karaites hold it’s assur.

  14. Joseph Kaplan says:

    R’ Ari,

    I assume that you, as an intelligent modern person, do not believe it. That’s why I asked: “What’s the purpose of putting this type of statement in this article?” Why publicize that great people said wrong things (through no fault of their own, I add, since they were probably passing on then current, though now we know erroneous, information)? It should have been deleted in your second draft.

  15. Ari Enkin says:

    Joseph-

    …I am torn with regards to these things. One one hand it is absurd, on the other hand it is a part of our halachic literature.

    Oh well…
    Ari

  16. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Bur R’ Ari, you are obviously selective in what you include in your articles. I’m sure there’s more you could have said about modifying Shabbat behavior. All I’m suggesting is that these type of statements not make the cut unless specifically relevant (e.g., a post on the medical knowledge of poskim of past generations).

  17. Tal Benschar says:

    If sexual intercourse is not exactly the same as planting seeds in the earth, it’s at least a pretty good analogy and should possibly be a derivative of zorea

    The two are not the same either biologically or halakhically. Zoreya generally deals with encouraging plant growth. (There are other melachos that are explicitly limited to gidulei karka. No reason zoreya should not be the same.

    Here is how the Rambam puts it (Hil. Shabbos 7:3):

    וכן אחד הזורע זרעים, או הנוטע אילנות, או המבריך אילנות, או המרכיב, או הזומר–כל אלו אב אחד הן מאבות מלאכות, ועניין אחד הוא: שכל אחת מהן לצמח דבר הוא מתכוון.

    The verb “לצמח” means encouraging plant growth, to sprout.

 
 

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