This paper is about how to keep the Shabat correctly according to the biblical decrees, and about giving some basic guidelines regarding activities that are, or are not allowed to be done during the Shabat / Sabbath.
The basic rule of thumb surrounding the Shabat is summed up this way...
"Anything outside of blunt necessity one is NOT allowed to do during the shabat. In other words, anything that can be done before Shabat, or anything that can be postponed until after shabat cannot be done during the shabat.
Things that can't be avoided, such as biblically mandated sacrifices, circumcision, bathing for uncleanness, going outside the camp for the bathroom and .... must be done or is allowed to be done during the shabat. However, they must be done using the least amount of work possible.
Within this basic guideline that I gave, multitudes of minor commandments can be formulated, and these commandments regulate how the Shabat needs to be kept. The reason for these extra sanctioned commandments is because the Torah and the writings of the prophets don't get into every single detail, nor scenario that life can throw at you. This is especially true when it comes to things in the future about new technologies or things that "make life easier".
Let me first give you all the biblical laws concerning the Shabat, then we can move on to many of the extra-biblical commandments surrounding the Shabat, based off of our basic guideline, Okay?
1) And he (Moses) said unto them:
'This is that which the LORD hath spoken: To-morrow is
a solemn rest, a holy sabbath unto the LORD. Bake that which ye will bake, and seethe
that which ye will seethe; and all that remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the
morning,' Exodus 16:23.
Therefore, you must not cook during the shabat, you must do all of your preparations
before sunset. With that being said, you must figure out how much food your are going
to need in order to last you for an entire 24 plus hour period.
2) "See that the LORD hath given you the sabbath; therefore He giveth you on the sixth day
the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on
the seventh day," Exodus 16:29...
Commandment: You must not go out to collect things during the shabat.
3) "Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying: Verily ye shall keep My sabbaths, for
it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am
the LORD who sanctifies you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore, for it is holy unto you;
every one that profaneth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work
therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done; but
on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD; whosoever doeth any
work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel
shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a
perpetual covenant," Exodus 31:13-16.
4) "Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, a holy
convocation; ye shall do no manner of work; it is a sabbath unto the LORD in all your
dwellings," Lev 23:3.
Commandment: No matter where you live, this regulation shall apply. No work, no job,
nor chores, nor volunteer labor is allowed to be done during the shabat.
5) For the priests only:
"And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth parts of an ephah
shall be in one cake. And thou shalt set them in two rows, six in a row, upon the pure table
before the LORD. And thou shalt put pure frankincense with each row, that it may be to
the bread for a memorial-part, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD. Every
sabbath day he shall set it in order before the LORD continually; it is from the children of
Israel, an everlasting covenant. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons; and they shall eat it
in a holy place; for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, a
perpetual due," Lev 24:5-9.
6) "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks
upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses
and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it had not
been declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses: 'The man
shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the
camp.' And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with
stones, and he died, as the LORD commanded Moses," Num 15.
Commandment: You must not do things on the shabat that could be done before shabat
or wait until it passes. Obviously, the Torah is not concerned with "why"
the man was collecting sticks, whether for firewood, fixing his tent, for
carving or.... You simply must not collect things during the shabat.
7) "Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day," Exodus 35:3.
Commandment: a) You cannot, therefore, light an oil lamp in order to see during the
shabat, you must do this before the shabat begins.
b) If you start a fire in your fireplace in order to stay warm, you must
do this before the shabat, and you also cannot add wood to the fire.
c) In modern times, you cannot turn on a gas furnace during the shabat,
but you can start it before the shabat, as long the gas is not being
received from a utility company and there is a meter associated with
it. You are not allowed to buy anything from a utility company because
this would be conducting business during the shabat, for you
must always pay for your usage. If, however, you have your own or
are renting a propane tank, you may use this, as long as you light
everything before sunset.
d) By this biblical commandment, we see that you cannot start any type
of engine during the shabat, because those things ignite sparks and
However, regarding a generator, you may start it before the shabat
if you want to use it for house lights or for heat, as long as you also
turn on those lights and heat sources and set them where you want them before shabat as well.
8) "Six days thou shalt do thy work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest; that thine ox and
thine ass may have rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be
refreshed," Exodus 23:12.
This commandment is pretty clear, it also tells one of the reasons behind the shabat, so
that we can be "refreshed." As you can see, this law also applies to aliens as well, not
just to Jews or Israelis.
9) "Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest; in plowing time and in
harvest thou shalt rest," Exodus 34:21.
This commandment tells us that even in the Spring (or at anytime), when it is time to plow
our fields in order to gain our crops throughout the growing season, we are not allowed to
plow, nor till, nor work the fields during the shabat. Likewise, even in harvest time, even
when rain can ruin some things, we are not allowed to gather food, harvest our crops, nor
pick it up off the ground from the fields during the shabat.
10) "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath unto
the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy
daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any
of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy man-servant and thy maid-
servant may rest as well as thou. And thou shalt remember that thou was a servant in the
land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by
an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath
day." Deut 5:12-14.
We must talk about our days of slavery during the shabat, for this is one of the points
behind the shabat, for in Egypt we were not allowed to rest. For we were slaves.
11) "Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, a holy
convocation; ye shall do no manner of work; it is a sabbath unto the LORD in all your
dwellings," Lev 23:3
Commandment: It is clear that "no manner of work" is allowed.
12) The priests must keep the Menorah lit continually, even during the shabat:
"Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the
light, to cause a lamp to burn continually. Without the veil of the testimony, in the tent of
meeting, shall Aaron order it from evening to morning before the LORD continually; it
shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations. He shall order the lamps upon
the pure candlestick before the LORD continually," Lev 24:2-4.
13) On every shabat the priest shall put in order the showbread:
"And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth parts of an
ephah shall be in one cake. And thou shalt set them in two rows, six in a row, upon the
pure table before the LORD. And thou shalt put pure frankincense with each row, that it
may be to the bread for a memorial-part, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Every sabbath day he shall set it in order before the LORD continually; it is from the
children of Israel, an everlasting covenant. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons; and
they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD
made by fire, a perpetual due," Lev 24:5-9
14) The priests must give the two daily offerings during the shabat as well:
"This is the offering made by fire which ye shall bring unto the LORD: he-lambs of the
first year without blemish, two day by day, for a continual burnt-offering. The one lamb
shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at dusk; and the tenth
part of an ephah of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with the fourth part of a hin of
beaten oil. It is a continual burnt-offering, which was offered in mount Sinai, for a sweet
savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And the drink-offering thereof shall be
the fourth part of a hin for the one lamb; in the holy place shalt thou pour out a drink-
offering of strong drink unto the LORD. And the other lamb shalt thou present at dusk;
as the meal-offering of the morning, and as the drink-offering thereof, thou shalt present
it, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD," Num 28:3-8.
15) Special sacrifices must be made by the priests during the shabat besides the continual
"And on the sabbath day two he-lambs of the first year without blemish, and two tenth
parts of an ephah of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil, and the drink-offering
thereof. This is the burnt-offering of every sabbath, beside the continual burnt-offering,
and the drink-offering thereof," Num 28:9-10
16) If a New Moon / Rosh Chodesh or the first of the month should fall on a Shabat, the
priest must give even more sacrifices than the daily offerings and the regular Shabat
offerings, offerings dealing with each New Moon:
"And in your new moons ye shall present a burnt-offering unto the LORD: two young
bullocks, and one ram, seven he-lambs of the first year without blemish; and three tenth
parts of an ephah of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil, for each bullock; and
two tenth parts of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil, for the one ram; and a
several tenth part of fine flour mingled with oil for a meal-offering unto every lamb; for a
burnt-offering of a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And their drink-
offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bullock, and the third part of a hin for the ram,
and the fourth part of a hin for a lamb. This is the burnt-offering of every new moon
throughout the months of the year. And one he-goat for a sin-offering unto the LORD; it
shall be offered beside the continual burnt-offering, and the drink-offering thereof," Num
17) The priests may protect the House of YHWH and the king during the shabat:
"And in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the captains over hundreds, of the
Carites and of the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the LORD; and he
made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the LORD, and
showed them the king's son. And he commanded them, saying: 'This is the thing that ye
shall do: a third part of you, that come in on the sabbath, and that keep the watch of the
king's house-- now another third part was at the gate Sur, and another third part at the
gate behind the guard--shall keep the watch of the house, and be a barrier. And the
other two parts of you, even all that go forth on the sabbath, shall keep the watch of the
house of the LORD about the king. And ye shall compass the king round about, every
man with his weapons in his hand; and he that cometh within the ranks, let him be slain;
and be ye with the king when he goeth out, and when he cometh in.' And the captains
over hundreds did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded; and they took
every man his men, those that were to come in on the sabbath, with those that were to
go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. And the priest delivered to the
captains over hundreds the spear and shields that had been king David's, which were in
the house of the LORD. Then he brought out the king's son, and put upon him the crown
and the insignia; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their
hands, and said: 'Long live the king,' " 2 Kings 11.
It seems, by the context, that Jehoiada put the crown on the king's head and gave the
troops David's shields and spears before the shabat. Then when the shabat had come,
everything was already prepared. One must keep in mind that the priests were allowed
to do things on the shabat that non-priests were not allowed to do during the shabat.
Thus, it is fitting for the priests to do these things.
18) You must not buy, nor sell, nor conduct any amount of business during the shabat:
"... and if the peoples of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell,
that we would not buy of them on the sabbath, or on a holy day...," Nehemiah 10:32
19) Again, one cannot buy or sell, nor carry anything during the shabat that has nothing
to do will blunt necessity:
"In those days saw I in Judah some treading winepresses on the sabbath, and bringing
in heaps of corn, and lading asses therewith; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all
manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day; and I
forewarned them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also
therein, who brought in fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the
children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and
said unto them: 'What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not
your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet
ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath,'" Nehemiah 13:15-18.
20) The gates of Jerusalem must be shut before the shabat begins and then can re-open
when the shabat is over in order to prevent transgressors from entering in. Likewise,
guards can be put in place during the shabat to make sure people are not transgressing:
"And it came to pass that, when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the
sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut, and commanded that they should
not be opened till after the sabbath; and some of my servants set I over the gates, that
there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day," Neh 13:19.
21) If foreigners or aliens carry stuff during the shabat, or want to sell something during the
shabat, a capital offense can apply:
"...the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
Then I forewarned them, and said unto them: 'Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so
again, I will lay hands on you.' From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath,"
22) You must not do your own pleasures or business during the Shabat and you must call it
If thou turn away thy foot because of the sabbath, from pursuing thy business on My
holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, and the holy of the LORD honourable; and
shalt honour it, not doing thy wonted ways, nor pursuing thy business, nor speaking
thereof; Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD...," Isa 58:13-14
23) You must not bear any burden or carry anything during the shabat, all that which is not
of blunt necessity, like food and drinks:
"...thus saith the LORD: Take heed for the sake of your souls, and bear no burden on
the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden
out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work; but hallow ye the
sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers; but they hearkened not, neither inclined
their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction. And
it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto Me, saith the LORD, to bring in no
burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but to hallow the sabbath day,
to do no work therein; then shall there enter in by the gates of this city kings and princes
sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes,
the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall be inhabited for
ever," Jeremiah 17:21-25.
24) Not only are you not allowed to conduct business during the shabat, you cannot even
think about it, whether that is a business you own, or conducting business, like what to
buy or sell:
"Hear this, O ye that would swallow the needy, and destroy the poor of the land, Saying:
'When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell grain? and the sabbath, that we may
set forth corn? making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances
of deceit; That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes, and sell
the refuse of the corn?' The LORD hath sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never
forget any of their works," Amos 8
25) There are a few more biblical commandments to post here, I will get to them when I have more time...
The following are commandments that are either outright from the biblical texts, or they are minor decrees that offshoot from the biblical commandments, or that are formulated through the basic foundational law behind the shabat...
1) You must not cook during the shabat
2) You must not prepare a plate of food during the shabat
3) You must not pour yourself a drink during the shabat, thus you must have more than
enough drinks poured before shabat into glasses or cups.
4) You must not add wood to a fire during the shabat.
5) You must not light a candle during the shabat.
6) You must not add oil to an oil lamp during the shabat; only the priests are allowed to
do this inside the Temple.
7) You must not kill an animal for food during the shabat.
8) You must not pick food out of your garden during the shabat, nor off your trees.
9) You may move your blanket during the shabat so that you can stay warm.
10) You must not move your pillow, however, during the shabat, because it has nothing to
do with trying to stay warm. Therefore, you must fix it how you want it before the shabat
so that you can lay on it comfortably.
11) You must not bathe with soap during the shabat, nor put on lotions or creams during
12) If you have to bathe during the shabat because you accidentally become unclean, or if
you are already unclean, and you must bathe, it must be done in a flowing body of water
or large body of water.
13) Of course, you may pick up a coat during the shabat to put it on, but you must not simply
carry it around.
14) You must not have sex with your wife during the shabat, because you are not allowed to
become unclean during the shabat, nor move each other, even if you don't become
15) You must turn off all the meters to your house before Shabat, because if they are left on
you will be conducting business during the shabat, because all that is running is not free,
and you are also participating with those who are breaking the Shabat by working for
you on that day to run your utilities. You must use your common sense here, your
usage of their utilities pays their wages, the utilities are NOT free.
16) You are not allowed to conduct any form of business during the shabat, whether that is
for buying or for sell something, nor are you allowed to trade for something during the
shabat (Amos 8:5, Nehemiah 10:29-32.)
17) You must not use your phone, nor computer, nor any device during the shabat.
18) You may pick up a book during the Shabat, if it does not deal with shopping or seeing
what you could buy after the Shabat. Thus, you must not look at ads, nor catalogs, nor
look in the classifieds either.
19) You must not draw during the shabat.
20) You must not erase something during the shabat.
21) You must not write anything during the shabat, since that can wait until after the shabat.
22) You must not go hunting.
23) You must not go fishing.
24) You must not ride a bicycle, nor skateboard, nor a scooter during the shabat.
25) You must not go skiing.
26) You are not allowed to fly on an airplane during the shabat.
27) You must not kill during the shabat, unless a bad bug actually lands on you, then you
can obviously kill the bug. However, if it is not a biting bug, you must not kill it.
28) You may shew away bad animals from your livestock during the shabat.
29) You must not ride your horse, nor animals during the shabat, for they too must not carry
a burden during the shabat.
30) You may go swimming during the shabat, but you must not deliberately splash around.
31) You must not wash your clothes.
32) You may lock and unlock your doors during the shabat.
33) You must not do any household chores.
34) You must not fix anything that might break.
35) If an accidental fire breaks out somewhere on your property, you may obviously put it
out if it is dealing with a structure, but you must do the least amount of work when doing
so. If a fire is in a controled state, however, on empty land or in a trash zone you must
not put it out, but keep a sharp on on it so that it does not spread and threaten
36) You cannot open a window during the shabat.
37) You must not exercise during the shabat. For the point behind the shabat is to also gain
strength for the following week, and so rest.
38) You must not go running during the shabat.
39) You must not exert yourself during the shabat.
40) A mother may pick up her child in order to nurse him or her during the shabat.
41) A mother may clean up her young child, and possibly change their clothes during the
shabat if needed. She may change their diaper as well, obviously. She is not allowed to
pick up a toy or rattle during the shabat, because she can just make funny faces, rub the
child's feet and other such things. A mother is not allowed to carry her baby around
during the shabat. She can for a short while after nursing in order for the child to belch,
but that is it.
42) A father or mother may pick up a blanket during the shabat in order to bundle up their
young one, if the young one can't do it themselves, and you can help them with any
basic needs a small child can not do for themselves.
43) You must not milk your animals during the shabat, you can do this before or after shabat.
44) If your roof starts leaking during the shabat, you must not fix it during the shabat.
45) You must not water your plants during the shabat.
46) You must not sew any clothes during the shabat.
47) When you are eating during the shabat and you eat everything off your plate, you must
not pick up your plate in order to move it or get it out of the way.
48) Even if you do not pick up your plate, you must not move your plate during the shabat.
49) If you are eating and then accidently drop a utinsil on the floor and you think you defiled
it, you must leave the utinsel. Therefore, you out to have extra utinsils laying on the
50) You are not allowed to wash your dishes during the shabat, nor rinse them off during the
shabat, nor put them in the sink.
51) You are not allowed to comb your hair during the shabat.
52) You are not allowed to brush your teeth during the shabat.
53) You are not allowed to pick up two books at the same time during the shabat, you must
only pick up one book up at a time if you want to read something.
54) You are not allowed to pick up a Torah scroll during the shabat for it is too heavy and
there is no need to, for there are Torah books now days that do not weigh very much.
However, if you still want to read from a Torah scroll during the shabat, it must already be
rolled open to the place you want to read at before the shabat begins.
55) You are not allowed to ride on, nor drive a boat during the shabat. You are also not
allowed to be on board a cruise ship during shabat, as the crew would be working for
you to run the ship, plus there are other problems facing cruise ships when it come to
56) You may lock your doors during the shabat.
57) If a theif breaks into your home, you may strike him with an object that you are normally
not allowed to pick up during the shabat. This even includes the use of a gun.
58) To go along with "you must not cook during the shabat," you also must not take things
out of the oven during the shabat, nor out of the mircowave oven.
59) You must not dish up food during the shabat, for you must prepare everything before
shabat. You must not even dish up "seconds" during the shabat. Thus, if you think you
will want more of something during the shabat, you must make yourself two or more
servings before the shabat begins and put it on the table or another table.
60) If you have two different breeds of the same kind of livestock, like goats or something
else, yet you keep them apart as the Torah commands us, so that they do not cross-
breed. If somehow one escapes or gets loose somehow and tries to mate with another
animal he or she is not allowed to mate with, you may deal with this situation during the
shabat. However, you must do the least amount of work possible. You must get the loose
or escaped animal out of the area and either penned up or tied up until after shabat
when you can deal with it better.
61) Because you cannot do business during the shabat, you cannot pay bills during the
62) Because you cannot deal with money during the shabat, you must not carry stamps for
the mail during the shabat.
63) You must not get the mail during the shabat, nor send it.
64) You must not open an envelope during the shabat.
65) You must not open a box during the shabat.
66) If a "door-to-door" person comes to your door to either sell you something or preach
something, you must not talk to him, if you do talk to him you must tell him or them that
he or they are not allowed on your property during the shabat.
67) You must not open a gate during the shabat.
68) You must not move a chair or seat during the shabat.
69) You must not organize things during the shabat.
70) If you are reading a certain book during the shabat and you are done reading it for the
time being, you must not carry it to a certain place, rather you must put it down wherever
you are at. Whether that is a table, the floor, the couch, the bed or....
71) When you pick up a cup or glass containing a liquid like milk, wine, water or... when you
are done and it is all empty, you must not longer carry it. You must put it immediately
down because the cup or glass no longer serves a purpose.
72) You cannot feed your pets during the shabat, thus you must feed them before sunset
and have sufficiant food laid out for them during the shabat. This is mostly talking about
dogs, cats, birds, horses, cattle, donkeys, goats, sheep and the like.
73) If, however, you have a young goat or something that you had before the shabat, that
has lost its mother somehow and so cannot nurse naturally, if you have other mothers
that are nursing, see if you can help one of those mothers adopted the kid. If, however,
there are not any extra nursing mothers, you may help the kid. The kid cannot be to old
to allow this however. For if the kid can eat on its own, you cannot help it nurse because
it is not a "must," for kid can eat during the shabat. After the shabat you can give the kid
some milk or help it nurse.
74) You must not collect eggs during the shabat.
75) If you want to wash your hands during the shabat and you do not have access to running
or flowing water, as from a river, stream, creek, spring or artisian well, then fill up a bowl,
or a sink, or a tub, or several bowls of water and while your hands are under the water,
rub them together. To dry them, if you care to, you must mave a towel laid out before
shabat and then you must only pat the towel, you are not allowed to pick it up.
76) You must not talk about things that you planned to do in the near future.
You must judge each situation that arises during shabat with the biblical commandments, and if a situation could wait until after Shabat, then it is not allowed to be done during the shabat.
....there are far over 300 minor decrees regarding the shabat, this is because the Torah is not going to give you every scenario that life can throw at you in written form.
Thus, this list can go on and on and on...
All these minor commandments fit into the basic gist of the overall teaching of what is and what is not allowed to be done during the shabat.
Furthermore, if one is not sure about a certain activity or deed, it is always better to take the safe road and not do it, rather than take the liberal road. The liberal road would be thinking: "Because it is not written in the bible or in the Torah, that means I am allowed to do those things during the shabat." That thinking is very foolish, and sinful.
Shalom for now, I will add more later.