There are board games that involve using a crayon to draw lines (not letters or figures) on a board (e.g. EuroRails). Are these activities problematic on Shabbat? There are two aspects: the drawing itself and whether the crayon is mukzah. (Assume that the crayons are part of the game, not raided from the kids' toy stash. So they are only ever used for playing this game.)

The game board is coated such that the crayon marks are wiped off after the game is over; the marks are not permanent.

Question prompted by this question.

  • Sounds like tzoveah to me. Though I don't know whether the Torah prohibition applies where the color doesn't penetrate the surface.
    – YDK
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 22:16
  • 1
    @YDK, I was assuming that tzoveah required some degree of absorption (so crayon on waxed board, or for that matter dry-erase marker on whiteboard, wouldn't count). But I don't have a source. Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 14:07
  • Could a whiteboard be permitted?
    – wizlog
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 3:00
  • @wizlog a whiteboard probably has the same issues as a crayon on a wipe-off board (see the answer here), but if you think it might be a different case, please How to Ask. I recommend linking to this question and explaining why a whiteboard is different (otherwise it may be marked as a duplicate). Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 3:53

1 Answer 1


According to Shabbos 103a, you're chayiv for writing two letters becuase that's how they marked the boards of the Tabernacle. However, 103b specifies that just two lines would count too.

He is guilty only on account of making a mark, because marks were made on each of the boards of the Tabernacle to know which was its companion. Therefore if one draws one line across two boards, or two lines on one board, he is culpable. - Shabbos 103b

In the game of EuroRails, it would be patur (not mutar) to only make only one line, but if you make two lines, you would be chayiv d'oraita. Not a very long game.

The Crayon itself would be mukzah as well. Even though it's considered part of the game, it would still have the form and function of a crayon used for drawing and writing, the more familiar uses of a crayon, and indeed, halachically, as I said above, its use in the game would be considered writing.

  • If a "line" is the space between two pips, that would be a very tedious game indeed. If a "line" is a single stroke through any amount of space, all that means is that you can't draw branches, which is different. (This also raises the question of how long between strokes constitutes the same act of writing; I assume the answer is more than seconds and less than days. Not proposing playing the game that way, of course; just curious.) Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 14:10
  • 1
    shulchan aruch harav 340.6 only hayav if written with something that lasts on something that lasts
    – hazoriz
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 20:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .