Games on Shabbat

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For an introduction to playing games on Shabbat, especially for those above Bar and Bat mitzvah, see the discussion page.

Children above Bar/Bat Mitzvah

  1. It’s highly advisable that older children (above 13 for a boy and above 12 for a girl) and adults should desist from playing games on Shabbat. [1]

Children Under the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah

  1. Even children as young as 4 or 5 should only play with games or toys which are permissible on Shabbat. [2] Children younger than that though, can use toys that are usually considered muktze. [3]
  2. Some poskim permit an adult to move an otherwise muktzeh toy for a young child, because the child will play with it so it isn't considered muktzeh. [4]

Noisemakers

  1. Items which make noise, such as bells, rattles, and musical instruments, are Muktzeh. [5]
  2. It’s permissible for an adult to give a baby a toy that makes noise, such as whistles, rattles, or other noisemakers. [6] Some say that one shouldn't give such a toy directly to the baby, but should place the toy in front of him, unless the baby won’t take it for himself. [7]
  3. An adult shouldn't personally use a noisemaker (such as a rattle) to entertain a baby [8] unless there’s a necessity (such as to calm down a crying baby,) and even in such, a case it’s preferable for the adult to shake it in an unusual manner. [9]
  4. Children that are above the age of chinuch (approximately four years old) should be taught not to use these noisemakers on Shabbat. [10]
  5. However, toys whose primary function are not for noise, such as a merry-go-round that clicks as is used, may be used by children on Shabbat. [11]
  6. A toy that hangs from the crib is not muktzeh because although it does make noise it can also be used to look at. [12]

Playing with sand

  1. It’s permissible for children to play with sand that’s fine, dry, and prepared before Shabbat for this use (as in a sandbox). One may not add water to the sand on Shabbat (a violation of Losh.) [13]
  2. A child who understands the holiness of Shabbat should not be let to play with a sifting toy which sifts out pebbles or dirt from the sand because of the melacha of Merakaid.[14]

Clay

  1. It’s forbidden to play with clay or plaster on Shabbat. [15]

Paper folding

  1. On Shabbat, one should not make a toy out of folded paper such as a boat or a hat. [16]

Snow

Walking

  1. One may walk normally on snow without concern that he is causing it to melt. [17] This is true even if your shoes have letters which will be imprinted into the snow. [18]

Muktzeh

  1. Snow isn’t Muktzeh, but it’s forbidden to make snowballs or a snowman. [19]

Shoveling

  1. There is a discussion amongst the poskim if one is allowed to shovel snow on Shabbat. [20]

Salt

  1. One may spread salt on icy walkway or stairs on Shabbat to prevent people from slipping.[21]

Magnets

  1. Magnets are not muktzeh on Shabbat. [22] Some hold that it is permissible to attach things using a magnet. [23] Others disagree and say that it is an issue of tofer. [24]

Marbles

  1. Children may play with marbles inside the house (as long as it has flooring and not bare earth) but not outside. [25]

Playing with a ball

  1. A play-ball according to some Sephardic poskim is Muktzeh, while Ashkenazic poskim hold it’s Kli Sh’Melachto LeHeter[26]
  2. Children may play ball games on paved (asphalt or concrete) ground or on a ping-pong table, both indoors or outside, as long as there’s an appropriate Eruv. [27]
  3. It’s forbidden to get a ball out of a tree whether by hand or using a stick. [28]
  4. It’s permissible to blow up inflatable balls which had been previously inflated so long as the air is kept in using a plastic or rubber insertion. However, if the opening is usually tied after inflation, the ball is Muktzeh and can’t be used. [29] Similarly, some permit one to inflate a balloon on Shabbat for a child. [30]
  5. It’s not within the sanctity of Shabbat to visit a sports game even if there’s no issue of the admissions ticket. [31]

Bikes

  1. Children shouldn’t ride a bike on Shabbat, however a tricycle or scooter is permissible only within in an eruv. Preferably, the bell on the scooter should be removed. [32]

Swings

  1. It’s permissible to climb a swing set, but it is forbidden to climb a tree or ascend a ladder which leans against a tree. (This is a Rabbinic prohibition related to Kotzer). [33]
  2. It’s permissible to use a swing suspended from a swing set. [34]
  3. Some permit using a swing suspended from a tree as long as the tree doesn’t shake when used; however, a tire suspended from a tree shouldn’t be used. Others forbid all swings suspending from a tree unless the swing suspends from a pole that’s attached to two trees. [35]

Toy car

  1. It’s permissible to wind up a spring motorized toy on Shabbat. [36]
  2. Before Shabbat one must remove batteries from a battery run toy in order that the child can play with it on Shabbat. [37]

Binoculars and Telescopes

  1. It is permissible to use binoculars or a telescope on Shabbat, provided that no electricity or special assembly equipment is used. [38]
  2. One may focus binoculars on Shabbat. [39]

Jacks

  1. Playing five stone (a type of jacks) is permissible and isn’t an issue of Muktzeh. [40]

Photographs

  1. It’s permissible to place a photograph into an album unless the photo’s adhere to the page or is stuck into the album even by means of a corner piece. (See page on Tofer.)[41]

Lego or Tinkertoy

  1. It’s permissible to play with building blocks that don’t interlock. (See page on Boneh.) [42]
  2. Some say that playing with Lego or Tinkertoy isn’t considered building and is permissible. [43] However, some say that it’s forbidden. [44]

Board games

  1. Using dice on Shabbat is permitted. [45]

Monopoly

  1. It is permitted to play monopoly on Shabbat, while others say that one should refrain. [46]

Scrabble

  1. Some poskim consider Scrabble a kli shemelachto li'isur since it is a game which involves writing down the score. [47]
  2. It’s forbidden to play a game that one normally writes when playing the game. (See the page on Kotaiv.) [48] Therefore, some say that scrabble shouldn’t be played on Shabbat because one normally writes when playing the game. [49]
  3. Some hold that it is permissible to play as long as you do not use the scrabble board that has individual squares for each tile (which creates an additional problem of kosev.)

Card games

  1. It’s permissible to play card games; however, when finished, one may not separate the cards in order to put it away. (See the page on Borer.)[50]

Puzzles

  1. Some poskim permit building puzzles on Shabbat, while others forbid. (See the page on Kotaiv.) To avoid the issue of Borer (separating) one must be careful not to separate pieces that one doesn’t want from those that one wants. [51]

Sources

  1. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:1, Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim pg 132), Kaf Hachaim 308:259, Sh"t Az Nidberu 1:13, Yam Shel Shlomo Masechet Beitza 1:34. See Sh”t Or Letzion 2:45:5 who only permits games for girls under Bat Mitzvah because for adults it’s an issue of muktzah, and for boys under Bar Mitzvah it’s an issue of getting them involved in something that will cause Bitul Torah. The Gemara Yerushalmi Shabbat 15:3 writes that Shabbat was given for people to learn torah. Ben Ish Chai Parashat Shemot:Halacha 2 writes that the reward for learning torah on Shabbat is one thousand times greater than during the week.
  2. Or Litzion 2:42:5
  3. Tiltulei Shabbos pg. 22:footnote 2 in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein.
  4. Sh"t Iggerot Moshe 5:22:10, Sh"t Beer Moshe 6:24, Sh"t Yabia Omer 7:39
  5. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:2. Shulchan Shlomo pg. 280 however, permits moving a rattle even if this will make noise
  6. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:3, 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1161-2)
  7. Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim, pg 134)
  8. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:3, 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1161)
  9. Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim, pg 135)
  10. Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim, pg 133)
  11. Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim, pg 134)
  12. Shalmei Yehuda 5:15, Shevet Halevi 9:78
  13. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:4, Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim, pg 137-8), 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 253)
  14. 39 Melachos (vol 2, pg 516)
  15. Children in Halacha (pg 140), Sh”t Bear Moshe 6:34, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:13
  16. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:21
  17. S"A 320:13, Yalkut Yosef 320:25
  18. Yalkut Yosef 320:25, Yabea Omer 5:28, Sh"t Maharam Brisk 1:59, Sh"t Chelkat Yaakov 2:132
  19. Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim, pg 138). Beer Moshe 1:20, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchita 16:note 110 rule that snow isn't muktzeh based on the Gemara Eruvin 46a and Tosfot Beitza 2a “ka” which says that rain is not muktzeh as nolad because the moisture was in the clouds before the rain fell.
    However, Rav Moshe Feinstein (quoted in The Halachos of Muktza, pg. 165 note 10) stated that snow is muktzeh because it isn’t normally used and therefore would be like sticks or stones, even if it fell before Shabbat. In Iggerot Moshe OC 5:22 he was asked if you can move snow, based on his earlier psak that its muktzeh, and says that its asur because of nolad and explains what makes it different from rain.
  20. Mishneh Halachot 5:4 says that in a place without an eruv, one can ask a non-Jew to shovel snow because of the danger. Contemporary Questions in Halacha and Hashkofah pg. 137 writes that one should seek a non-Jew to clear the snow but If a non-Jew was not available and the conditions were hazardous getting in and out of the house, as a last resort, there may be room to be lenient and clear a small path. He adds that a Rav should be consulted. Rav Osher Weiss says even a Jew can shovel on a path that needs to be used and certainly one can have a non-Jew shovel for him
  21. 39 Melachos (vol 2, pg 368), Yalkut Yosef Shabbat 3 320:24, Rav Osher Weiss
  22. Tiltulei Shabbat (pg 32)
  23. Halachically Speaking in the name of Rav Yisrael Belsky
  24. Halachically Speaking quoting Rav Elyashiv from sefer Migdal Dovid page 599:footnote 28
  25. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:5
  26. Even though Shevut Yitzchak (pg 89) quotes Rav Elyashiv as saying that even Shulchan Aruch would agree that the modern play-ball is non-Muktzeh. Even though Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 308:84; authored by Rav Yitzchak Yosef) writes one should follow S”A 308:45 that considers all balls to be Muktzeh, Chazon Ovadia (p. 99; authored by Rav Ovadia Yosef) rules that nowadays since the balls are made to this purpose they aren't Muktzeh. Sh”t Or Letzion 2:26:8 writes that a ball is considered Muktzah for boys and girls above Bar and Bat mitzvah. Other games are generally not muktzah but should preferably be treated as muktzah and not moved.
    • For Ashkenazim the Rama 308:45 certainly considers balls to be non-Muktzeh. Rav Moshe Feinstein quoted by Sefer Tiltulei Shabbat (pg 22 note 16), Rav Elyashiv in Shalmei Yehuda (pg 91), and Sh"t Shevet Halevi 9:78 agree.
  27. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:6. Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, pg 137) adds that any game which the ball rolls on the ground may not be played except on pavement; however, other ball games can be played even on grass. Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim, pg 140) says that it’s permissible to play ping-pong.
  28. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:7, Mishna Berura 336:3, Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, pg 137)
  29. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:8, Binyan Shabbos pg. 137. Rav Elyashiv (quoted in Shalmei Yehuda pg. 92) however, holds that it is a problem of uvda dichol. see also Sh"t Minchat Yitzchak 6:30 and Sh"t Chelkat Yaakov 3:159 who are stringent as well
  30. Children in Halacha (pg 139)
  31. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:9
  32. Children in Halacha (pg 138), Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:17 adds a scooter
  33. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:15
  34. Children in Halacha (pg 140), Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:16
  35. Children in Halacha (pg 140) is lenient, while Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:16 is stringent.
  36. Children in Halacha (pg 139), Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:14
  37. Children in Halacha (pg 139)
  38. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchita 16:45
  39. Kaf Hachaim 313:73, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchita 16:45, Ketzot HaShulchan 119:12 explain that this does not pose a problem of boneh because it is the regular method of use. see also Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 6: pg. 296
  40. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:11
  41. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:12
  42. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:18
  43. Sh”t Or Letzion vol 2 (chap 42:5 pg 272), Sh”t Tzitz Eliezer 13:30, Sh”t Be'er Moshe 6:25, Sh”t Yabia Omer 7:39(4), Yalkut Yosef 314:1, Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, pg 135). The Or Letzion's reasoning is that if one intends to take them apart in a short period of time, then it is considered like something that is usually put together and taken apart and doesn't constitute Boneh. Additionally, they are put together for fun and not in order to build. See, however, Sh”t Machazeh Eliyahu 69 who raises the issue of Kotev.
  44. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:19 (in the new edition) writes that building blocks which fit together tightly are forbidden and continues to give Lego as an example. Similarly, Shalmei Yehuda (pg 90) quotes Rav Elyashiv as saying that lego would be considered building. Sefer Tiltulei Shabbat (Rabbi Pinchas Bodner, pg 24) quotes Rav Moshe Feinstein as saying that it’s not clear whether the interlocking pieces is forbidden, and therefore the Sefer Tiltulei Shabbat writes that one shouldn’t give it to a child, but if the child takes it not to object.
  45. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:33
  46. Children in Halacha (pg 139) and Sh”t Or Letzion 2:45:5 in the note are lenient, while Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:32 says that it’s preferable to refrain.
  47. Sefer Tiltulei Shabbat pg. 24
  48. Chaye Adam (Shabbat 38:11)
  49. Children in Halacha (Rabbi Simcha Bunim, pg 135), Tiltulei Shabbat (Halachos of Muktzeh pg 24)
  50. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:34
  51. Sh”t Or Letzion 2:45:6 writes that it’s not considered writing since it’s only for the purposes of a game (and it’s temporary). So too there’s no issue of Borer since one takes the pieces one wants and uses them immediately. This is also the opinion of Sh”t Beer Moshe 6:26, and Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg quoted in Children in Halacha (pg 140), and Rav Moshe HaLevi in Menuchat Ahava (vol 3, 22:16). However, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:23 forbids if the pieces fit tight together (interlock). Similarly, Shalmei Yehuda (pg 90) quoting Rav Elyashiv and Sefer Tiltulei Shabbat (pg 25; Rabbi Yisrael Bodner) write that it’s forbidden.