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Ten Commandments for a Contemporary Shabbat

By Rabbi Art Green
woman lighting the shabbat candles


  1. Stay at home. Spend quality time with family and real friends.
  2. Celebrate with others at the table, in the synagogue, with community/havurah, or with those with whom you best can share appreciation of God's world.
  3. Study or read something that will edify, challenge, or make you grow.
  4. Be alone. Take some time for yourself. Check in with yourself, review your week, ask yourself where you are in your life. 
  5. Mark the beginning and the end of this sacred time: candlelighting and kiddush on Friday evening and Havdalah on Saturday night.


  1. Do anything you have to do for your work life. This includes obligatory reading, fulfilling unwanted social obligations, homework for children, and preparing for work as well as doing your job itself.
  2. Spend money. The atmosphere of Shabbat is best protected by complete separation from the commercial culture.
  3. Do business. No calls to the broker, no following up on ads, no paying of bills. Relax: it can all wait.
  4. Travel. This refers especially to long distances, involving airports, hotel check-ins, and similar depersonalizing commercial situations. Stay free of encounters in which people are likely to tell you to "Have a nice day!"
  5. Use commercial or canned video entertainment. This refers especially to television, film, and computer games. Stay in situations where you are face-to-face with those around you, rather than together facing the all-powerful screen.

Excerpted from: These Are The Words: A Vocabulary of Jewish Spiritual Life, by Rabbi Art Green (Jewish Lights Publishing, 1999)