shabbos candles

The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Shelach

Is there a limit as to what one may speak about on Shabbos?

We will deal with this question on two levels - the first pertains to ones spiritual conduct and the second is a halachik perspective.

In Yeshaya 58:13 we find the following possuk:

'13 - Im tashiv mishabbos raklecha, asos cheftzicha b'yom kadshi, v'karasa lashabbos oneg, likdosh Hashem mechubad, v'chibadito ma'asos derachecha, mimtzoh cheftzicha v'daber davar.' 

This entire possuk is utilized to teach how one is to conduct oneself on Shabbos. We learn the issue of oneg Shabbos enjoying the Shabbos, honoring the Shabbos and more.

We also learn that ones speech on Shabbos must not be the same as weekday speech. One must not only refrain from violating the Shabbos by not performing the melachos and the many rabbinical prohibitions, but one must transform oneself and be a different person on Shabbos. Thus ones dress, actions and speech should be  different from that of during the week.

Of course the level to which this is taken varies from person to person as it depends on ones spiritual purification and perfection.

Let us begin at the top

The Mishna Berura writes [1] that one who refrains from speaking about weekday matters on Shabbos will be called holy. He continues saying that people of deeds would only speak in Lashon HaKodesh on Shabbos, even when essential matters are involved, in order not to be drawn into idle chatter.

Is that type of conduct not meant for very pious people?

To conduct oneself in such a manner for an entire Shabbos is indeed above most of our spiritual levels. Nevertheless it does not mean that we are exempt from knowing where we should be heading and what we must strive for. For example, the Mishna Berura [2] cites the Sheloh HaKadosh [3] who says that one who greets a fellowman on Shabbos should not greet him in the weekday fashion - good morning etc. rather one should say gut Shabbos or Shabbat Shalom, in order to fulfill the mitzvah of remembering the Shabbos.

We all conduct ourselves in this manner (although we may not have been aware of the reason for it) because we know Shabbos is different. (For this reason some have the custom not to say good night, before going to sleep on Shabbos, because it is Shabbos and one should say gut Shabbos or Shabbat Shalom). [4]

Are there any restrictions as to which thoughts are permitted on Shabbos and which are not?

From a purely halachik view point we learn from the possuk that states 'v'daber davar'  - that certain speech is forbidden on Shabbos, not thoughts, and one may think about ones business on Shabbos. However, the Shulchan Aruch [5] writes that one should not think about business matters at all because of oneg Shabbos, especially if it causes worry and anxiety.

The Mechaber continues that one should feel on Shabbos as if one has concluded all of ones business transactions and the MB says this is learned from 'sheishes yamim ta'avod v'asisa kal melachtecha'  - one should conclude all of ones work in 6 days, and that comes about because it should be that when Shabbos begins - 'u'vayom hashvii shavas' , it should be as if ones business is concluded. When Shabbos begins there is no need for more work. This indeed is a high plane for one who is in the middle of a complicated business issue, but it is expected of us.

What if my business is BH very successful. May I not think about it?

Thinking about and being excited about $1,000,000 in the bank is not a crime, but it will most probably lead to problems. One will start thinking whether it is invested wisely, is it earning enough etc. The same with a successful business. There are many complicated matters involved and one will begin to think about them on Shabbos. The optimal conduct on Shabbos therefore, is to totally disconnect ones mind from such matters and focus on more spiritual matters.

[1] MB simon 307:5.

[2] MB simon 307:5.

[3] HaRav Yeshaya Horowitz - Born: Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1565. He studied in Prague and served as Rav in Poland, Lithuania, and Germany. He returned to Prague as Rosh Yeshiva in 1615 and was appointed Rav of Jerusalem in 1622. Author of Shnei Luchot HaBrit/Sheloh, a classical work on Halacha, customs, and Kabbalah, written around the 613 Commandments as they appear in each parsha. The author gives kabbalistic interpretations of the laws as well as its ethical implications. (Adapted from the biography written by R Shlomo Pereira).

[4] I once saw another reason for this. On Shabbos it does not say , and therefore there is no room for saying good night.

[5] Simon 306:8.

Food For Thought

Am I permitted to walk through my vegetable patch on Shabbos?

What about window shopping, anything wrong with that?

May I sit at a bus stop before Shabbos is out in order to catch the first bus?

Answers coming next week.

Vort on the Parsha

We find that Moshe Rabeinu prayed to Hashem on behalf of Yehoshua that he should not succumb and be part of the spies plan. He even changed his name to that effect as a protective device. Why though, did he not pray for Kaleiv Ben Yefuneh, was he not worthy of Moshes prayer?

I heard that Moreini HaGaon Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky ztzl answered this saying that Moshe was sure that nothing could happen to Kaleiv and that he would not sway from the true path because he was married to Moshe Rabeinus sister Miriam!! He was insured!

As long as he was a part of Moshes family and especially being a husband to the incredibly righteous woman called Miriam, no harm would come to him.

For a printed version, click here.


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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.