Shabbat is the Hebrew word for Sabbath. It is the seventh day of the week (Friday night into Saturday) and is the day of rest. Shabbat is a sacred (or holy) day for practicing Jews.

The Hebrew spelling is שַׁבָּת. The word is pronounced as "shabbat" or "shabbous". Shabbos is an alternative translitteration (English spelling based on phonetics).

Shabbat always lasts exactly 24 hours and 56 minutes.

Forbidden acts

39 Forbidden Acts
  1. Sowing
  2. Plowing
  3. Reaping
  4. Binding sheaves
  5. Threshing
  6. Winnowing
  7. Selecting
  8. Grinding
  9. Sifting
  10. Kneading
  11. Baking
  12. Shearing wool
  13. Washing wool
  14. Beating wool
  15. Dyeing wool
  16. Spinning
  17. Weaving
  18. Making two loops
  19. Weaving two threads
  20. Separating two threads
  21. Tying
  1. Untying
  2. Sewing stitches
  3. Tearing
  4. Trapping
  5. Slaughtering
  6. Flaying
  7. Tanning
  8. Scraping hide
  9. Marking hides
  10. Cutting hide to shape
  11. Writing two or more letters
  12. Erasing two or more letters
  13. Building
  14. Demolishing
  15. Extinguishing a fire
  16. Kindling a fire (Electricity counts as fire.)
  17. Putting the finishing touch on an object
  18. Transporting an object between a private domain and the public domain

These are acts that while perfectly okay during the rest of the week, are forbidden on the Sabbath itself. As is the case with other aspects of this observance, it is intended to ensure that the Sabbath is kept fully separate from the rest of the week. As one might wonder how anyone could manage to remember each and every act, it helps to keep in mind that just about every forbidden act is a task intended to assure one's survival in the everyday world.

Lighting of the candles

For many, this is when Shabbat truly starts. Traditionally, two candles are lit prior to sunset, for the two references to Shabbat in the Bible: Deuteronomy 5:12 - "Observe the Sabbath," and Exodus 20:8 – “Remember the Sabbath." Though in many households there may be additional candles lit as well. It is traditionally the obligation of the woman to light Shabbat candles, although if she is ill or absent a man may do so, as long as he understands the importance of the mitzvah.

When lighting the candles it is common to recite the following blessing:

ברוך אתה הי אלוהנו מלך העולמ אשר קידשנו במיצבותב בצבנו להדליק נר של שבת

"Barukh atah Adonai E1oheinu, melekh ha'olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Shabbat"

Which translates to:

“Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Sabbath light.


  • The 39 forbidden things are the things that were used to build the Tabernacle
  • The Sabbath counts as a Testimony Mitzvah (Remembering the 7th day that was created), a logical Mitzvah (G-d rested, and we should rest too), and an illogical Mitzvah (Why are these things forbidden?).
    • AKA, why are the things from the Tabernacle forbidden of all things?

See also