What I've noticed is that when there is not too much to talk about with haShem, I get kinda 'hyper'. In this state I like to go a bit primal and just shout out some noises, do some clapping and stuff like that. I was playing with a few words in Russian and came up with a nice little tune while clapping and adjusting certain rhymes, rythmic patterns and structures. It was Shaabath, saturday at dusk.

I'd like to know whether creating something mentally (be it music, plans, creative thoughts and so on) and then (after Shaabath) transforming it into the physical realm (like writing down the lyrics, composing the tune) is a melacha. Is creating in/ working with your head considered melacha?


2 Answers 2


I believe you are asking if "mental work" is permitted on Shabbos where it leads to prohibited work after Shabbos.

The Shulchan Aruch, OH 306:8 states

הרהור בעסקיו מותר

thinking about one's work is permitted [translation mine].

However, in the very sentence, the Shulchan Aruch cautions that

ומכל מקום משום עונג שבת מצוה שלא יחשוב בהם כלל ויהא בעיניו כאלו כל מלאכתו עשויה

nevertheless, due to the Mitzvah of Oneg Shabbos, one should not think about these matters at all and should consider all his work as complete [translation mine].

This is true even when the thoughts themselves are not prohibited per se, as the Shulchan Aruch mentions previously in subchapter 1

חפציך אסורים אפילו בדבר שאינו עושה שום מלאכה

Business matters are prohibited even where they do not involve transgressing a prohibition [translation mine]

Hence, a distinction might be made between thinking about or planning work on Shabbos in order to do it after Shabbos and mentally working on Shabbos in a permissible manner and then after Shabbos deciding to continue those thoughts in a way that is prohibited on Shabbos.

Seeing as spontaneous singing is not prohibited per se (with the caveat that "instruments of noise" are not used*), it should not be prohibited on Shabbos. More so, singing on Shabbos is actually appropriate as the Psalmist said:

מִזְמוֹר שִׁיר לְיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת: טוֹב לְהֹדוֹת לַיהוָה, וּלְזַמֵּר לְשִׁמְךָ עֶלְיוֹן.

A psalm. A song; for the sabbath day. It is good to praise the LORD, to sing hymns to Your name, O Most High translation

And the Radak explains:

יום השבת טוב להודות בו לה' משאר ימי השבוע כי האדם פנוי מעסקי העולם ונשמתו נח מטרדת הגוף ומתעסקת בחכמה ובעבודת האלהים

It is better [more appropriate] to praise God on the Sabbath day than the rest of the week because man is free from his worldly business and his soul rest from the restless of the body's troubles and deals with wisdom and the worship of God. [translation mine]

On the other hand, a professional music composer attempting to create material to be used after Shabbos or a layman who's singing extends to thoughts on how to arrange the music with instruments or other activities prohibited on Shabbos would seem to transgress the Shulchan Aruch above.

* The prohibition of השמעת קול, creating noise, is another topic

  • Thanks for bringing up that psalm. Singing / improvising and coming up with words that praise haShem out of the blue can be a joyous and also fun experience.
    – user16556
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 22:33

There is no issue of thinking creatively on Shabbat. Actually thinking creatively about Torah is a recommended activity (see third paragraph from R Eliezer Melamed here). The truth is, even in areas which are forbidden to discuss on Shabbat (such as business matters), thinking about them is permitted (see end of Rambam MT Shabbat 24:1)

The closest melacha I can think of is to clap one's hands because it might lead to playing instruments, there are those who permit and those who forbid (see e.g., here and here for details).

Of course, consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

  • Regarding the hand clapping (and potentially singing/making noise with your body): is it forbidden among the same lines it is forbidden to play a guitar or piano as it [i]might[/i] lead to tuning and thus melachot? Even though I personally think that playing an instrument should be prohibited on Shaabath simply because of the high possibility that one might create a new melody or tune. Repetition of something that has been already created might be undesirable but not straight out forbidden (though it's a very thin line and I'm definately not an expert)
    – user16556
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 13:19
  • Doesn't the Kaf Hachayim say learning BeIyun is prohibited as Borer?
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 13:21
  • 1
    @Anonymous creating a new tune (without instruments) is not forbidden either, at least for a non-professional musician. Problem with instruments is that playing them might lead to repairing them which is definitely a melacha. On hand clapping see the two references at the end of the second paragraph
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 13:38
  • @DoubleAA I do not know (but can ask) although applying borer to a mental activity is new to me. And I never heard of people refraining to learn on Shabbat because of this. But see here first para but not because of borer - rather to avoid "becoming tense and aggravated" for those who don't understand
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 14:55
  • @mbloch: So according to Shulchan Aruch and general halacha it would be actually allowed to play any instrument (and while playing, not necessarily fixating/recording, creating a new melody) on Shaabath as long as we don't tune or repair them? If we remain consistent of course. Personally, I felt bad for even picking up the guitar once and playing it on Shaabath, without even daring to touch the tuning knobs. Same could be applied for the piano.
    – user16556
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 22:30

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