My parents are not shomer Shabbat and spend all day watching tv or playing on their phones. How can I talk to them while observing Shabbat? What should I do if I’m the only person in my house observing?

  • Hi Ben! Could you elaborate a bit on your question? What exactly is the problem you're trying to solve? Are you having difficulty talking to them because they're too busy watching TV? Or are you asking whether it's ok to talk to them while they're watching TV? Or something else?
    – Daniel
    Mar 23, 2021 at 16:01
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    If this question is meant to be serious (you never know on the internet) I can recommend skimming through the answer(s) on this: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/98529/…
    – Ilja
    Mar 23, 2021 at 16:26
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    My advice is don't badger your parents too much to change their behavior. From what I've seen, it generally isn't positive for the relationship when people who are newly religious or becoming religious try to (with good intentions) encourage their family members to reluctantly join them in their observance. If your parents aren't interested in exploring Shabbos observance with you, I recommend that you find your own Shabbat-friendly activities to do that won't bother them. This doesn't mean that you can't sit nearby and chat with them while they're watching TV, though, if they're open to that.
    – Daniel
    Mar 23, 2021 at 16:53
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    Consider this: Say you were a teenager who got ahold of the books out there (see next comment) which discuss how corruptive technology (internet etc) can be. Nothing to do with religion. You just became a fanatic. Would your parents then object and the like? What a rebellious youth, I'll tell you!
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Mar 23, 2021 at 20:28
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    The shallows : what the Internet is doing to our brains by Carr, Nicholas G., 1959-. Internet and social media addiction by Nakaya, Andrea C., 1976-. Ten arguments for deleting all your social media accounts right now by Lanier, Jaron,. Digital minimalism : choosing a focused life in a noisy world by Newport, Cal,. Irresistible : the rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked by Alter, Adam L., 1980-. How to break up with your phone by Price, Catherine, 1978-.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Mar 23, 2021 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


This is quite literally the situation described in Vayikra 19,

אִ֣ישׁ אִמּ֤וֹ וְאָבִיו֙ תִּירָ֔אוּ וְאֶת־שַׁבְּתֹתַ֖י תִּשְׁמֹ֑רוּ אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃" You shall each revere his mother and his father, and keep My sabbaths: I the LORD am your God." (Remember that the vav in Hebrew is just a connector, this passuk could also be translated as "You shall each revere his mother and father but keep My sabbaths)

Try to smile and gently remind them you can't do X activity because it's Shabbat. Don't pressure them to do the same, just remind them that you yourself can't do it. Will they allow you to light Shabbat candles in a corner somewhere and make kiddush over grape juice? Doing these things unintrusively and not nagging them to get involved could go a long way.

  • I would add that it may even prompt them to start keeping Shabbat.
    – Turk Hill
    Mar 23, 2021 at 19:24

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