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Where I live, shabbat ends at nearly 10PM at the peak of summer, and I find it challenging to get to the end of that without starting to develop some negative feelings. I try to spend most of Shabbat afternoon reading, but due to some eye problems I'm finding it more and more difficult to read for more than a couple hours at a stretch from books/magazines (where I of course can't change the font size). I don't have family to "do shabbat" with, and my community doesn't have a lot of afternoon shiurim or other get-togethers. I sometimes take a walk in the park to break up the afternoon.

So what else could I do between lunch and sunset on these long days so that Shabbat will feel like a delight and not a long slog?

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Since I first read this question, I've had a Starland Vocal Band song in my head. (Not a good answer to this question, though, except under certain circumstances, per OC 240:11.) – msh210 May 18 '11 at 21:58
@msh210: I really want to know how you got from Starland Vocal Band to a halachic citation :-) , but I don't know how to look that up. Could you elaborate or link? Thanks. – Monica Cellio May 18 '11 at 22:54
Same question for kids: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/34554 – msh210 Jan 12 '14 at 6:27
Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/44171 – msh210 Aug 3 '14 at 17:51

10 Answers 10

up vote 21 down vote accepted
  • Nap.

    As the OU has it:

    Extra sleep is also considered appropriate and desirable on Shabbat, in line with the principle of "Shayna b'Shabbat Taanug," "(Extra) Sleep on Shabbat is considered a Delight!"

  • Start your own afternoon gathering. You don't need to be super-learned or invest a great deal of time to start very interesting and worthwhile discussions.

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+1 for the afternoon gathering suggestion. Likely other people in the community have the same problem. – jake May 18 '11 at 18:06
FYI - Sheyna B'shabbat Taanug is roshey teyvot (an acronym) for "Shabbat" (Shin Bet Tav). – Adam Mosheh Jun 10 '12 at 21:06
@AdamMosheh, I never especially liked that sort of folk roshei teyvot. "shopping b'shabbat taanug" works just as well as a roshei teyvot, as of course does any other verb beginning with shin. – Ze'ev Felsen Sep 13 '12 at 21:39
+1 for napping. – Scimonster Dec 15 '14 at 14:07
  • Sleep.
  • Recite T'hilim (from a large-print copy).
  • Visit with neighbors/friends. (Avoid lashon hara. :-) )
  • Visit the homebound. (Or hospital-bound, but CYLOR about automatic doors and other issues.)
  • Push the community to have more classes or get-togethers. Talk to local rabbis and/or lay leaders.

You say you already read but have a hard time because of print size: maybe get large-print books?

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Thanks for the suggestions. Large-print books (that I want to read :-) ) tend to be hard to come by, but I do have a large-print Tanakh that is very helpful. – Monica Cellio May 19 '11 at 1:44
@MonicaCellio, I (obviously) don't know what you like to read, but public libraries in cities often have large-print books. (The Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, for example, lists hundreds of large-print books in its catalogue (not to mention the Library For the Blind and Physically Handicapped which of course has many also).) (CYLOR about reading secular books on Shabas, though.) – msh210 May 19 '11 at 3:36
@msh120, thanks -- it's clearly time for me to check their catalogue again. (I didn't find any Jewish books in large print last time I looked, but that's a preference, not a requirement, for me.) – Monica Cellio May 19 '11 at 13:07

Sing. I can spend an hour just singing zemirot after lunch, and sometimes I'll take down my copy of Avraham Baer's "Der Practische Vorbeter" or one of Chazzan Pinchas Spiro's series of books, or the Harvard Hillel bentcher, and teach myself a new tune to a tefillah.

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Oh, good point! – Monica Cellio May 19 '11 at 1:44

Have you heard the story about a goat? A Jew comes to his Rabbi and says: "Rebbe, my house is tiny, and I have a large family. It has become so crowded, that it is unbearable! What should I do?" The Rebbe says: "Do you have a goat?" The Jew says: "Yes, I have a goat". "Then bring the goat into the house."

The Jew is puzzled, but he does what the Rebbe said. He comes back next day saying: "Rebbe, this is not helping. If anything, the house is more crowded now". The Rebbe says: "Do you have a rooster?" The Jew says: "Yes, I have a rooster." "Then bring the rooster into the house," says the Rebbe.

The Jew is even more puzzled, but still he does as the Rebbe told him. The next day he is back again, complaining that his life is even worse than before. The Rebbe says: "Now, bring your chickens into the house too."

The Jew again grudgingly does as the Rebbe told him, and comes back the next day screaming: "Rebbe! What kind of an advice is this? I am ready to go mad from all the people and animals that are in my tiny house!" The Rebbe says: "Now, throw the goat, the rooster, and the chickens out of the house!"

The next day, the Jew comes to the Rebbe saying "Rebbe, thank you! I've never realized how huge my house is!"

So, how about this: keep yourself really busy during the week. Then doing nothing until 10pm on Shabbes will indeed be a delight. :)

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@Isaac Moses: what's wrong with the word "maise"? That is exactly what this is. :) – Dima May 18 '11 at 22:10
Many people who would be interested in this material may not be familiar with this word, and there's a good English substitute. If you're interested in helping set site policy with respect to jargon, please join the conversation here: meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/52/… – Isaac Moses May 18 '11 at 22:13

Chesed! Do for others and you'll find the time flying by. I believe PZ (referenced in another answer) has a hachnasas orchim program for shabbos which you can sign up for. But in general I'm sure there is a lot of chesed that can be done in Pittsburgh. Offer to take someone's kids to the park, visit the elderly or offer to teach a class.

When you make someone else's shabbos a delight Hashem will bless you with the same.

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Meditate on the fact that you do not live in Gateshead, England or in Denmark or Norway where Shabbos is not over until after midnight for much of the Spring/Summer season!! Then thank G-d for that through song and prayer!

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There is a positive commandment "lishbos mim'lacha" - to refrain from constructive activity. More than simply the lack of such activity, this command is explained as obligating us to proclaim the unity and Novelty of God as well as his Creative power. Infusing every moment of shabas with the attitude that one's very inaction expresses a profound theological point can make it all much more fulfilling.

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"Eloquent restraint" according to one high school rebbe of mine. – Isaac Moses May 18 '11 at 20:32

Monica, I noticed that your profile and blog indicate that you are a Pittsburgher. I'm not sure what your religious observance level is, but since you indicate a desire to attend Shi'urim, I thought you'd like to know about Poale Zedeck's adult education options. You can view them here: http://poalezedeck.typepad.com/congregation_poale_zedeck/poale-zedeck-education-booklet/

I've been to PZ a number of times (although quite some time ago). I also know the rabbi somewhat from a previous life (meaning my youth). I have only good things to say about both the Shul and Rabbi Yolkut. If you would like more information about either, I'd be happy to share privately.

Also, as others suggested, maybe you could reach out to others and organize weekly get-togethers and addtional Shi'urim. In my community someone complained that the women never get to socialize outside of Shul. At her husband's urging, she started a women's Se'udah Shelishith group, and it's been meeting, rotating homes/hostesses, once a month for something like 5 years now.

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It took several days for it to sink in, but I finally understand the premise of your question - the mitzva of oneg shabas! This requirement, which some hold is Biblical in nature, and everyone holds is at least bindingly scriptural, obligates one to delight in shabas to such an extent that they call the day "a delight".

The simplest way to fulfill this obligation is explained by the Ramba"m in Mishne Torah 30:10

אכילת בשר ושתיית יין בשבת עונג הוא לו

Eating and drinking things that one finds enjoyable (as others unlimit the seemingly narrow specification of food and beverage to various forms of aesthetic enjoyment) achieves a fulfillment of this mitzva. Designating special foods for shabas of which one particularly does not partake during the rest of the week could make the experience more marked and contribute to one's pleasure in the physical reflection of the spiritual goodness of the day.

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@WAF, thanks for this comment. You're right that doing specific enjoyable things fulfills the mitzvah; I'm trying to go beyond that end the day still feeling delighted (or at least moderately satisfied), which in the summer means finding more (non-vision-intensive) ways to pass the time. – Monica Cellio May 22 '11 at 3:49
One can only [healthfully] fill so many hours with food and drink. – Isaac Moses May 22 '11 at 3:53
@IsaacMoses - Yes, I suppose. There are rishonim who extend oneg to all kinds of things one gets pleasure from, but the principle I outlined can be applied to them too. – WAF May 24 '11 at 23:02
@IsaacMoses, but one can invite friends over for delightful desserts and then spend the entire day sharing stories, laughing and singing Zemiroth. I seem to recall more than a few Shabbath afternoons with you and yours involving food as the kickstarter to long, but delightful, visits. – Seth J Jun 1 '12 at 17:22

Move to Israel, where shabbat does not last so long. :) Or play really long games of risk.

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Can you elaborate? What's the latest time that Shabbos ends in Eretz Yisrael? – Tzvi May 22 '11 at 20:10
The latest I can find is 8:35pm in Nahariya on July 2nd chabad.org/calendar/candleLighting.asp?tDate=7/2/… – avi May 23 '11 at 8:58
For women and children, yes, but what about the opinion that prohibits board games on shabbat for men above bnei mitzvah (13+) due to bitul torah? – Adam Mosheh Feb 12 '12 at 15:23
Then those people should not be complaining about Shabbat being late or long, because they are busy studying. @Adam – avi Feb 12 '12 at 15:42
@avi - Good teretz. – Adam Mosheh Feb 12 '12 at 16:17

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