I often read that Gentiles are not to keep the Sabbath or institute any holidays for themselves. How far does it go? Rest from our work activity without refraining from doing extra activities? If I decide that on Sunday I will do nothing since it is a day where virtually nothing can be done in the western world would I be instituting a holiday for myself for not having done anything creative or that requires activity like cleaning the house? Would having meals already break this possibility? If that's the case then it's impossible for Gentiles to establish a holiday for themselves since it's practically impossible to do nothing all day unless they copy the Jews am I right? Can the existence of Sunday as it is today be classified as an established holiday when it is basically a social convention that came into being on its own without the countries instituting it as a holiday? Are all gentile holidays disobedience? Or just those who demand a similar way that Jews practice on the Sabbath that does not exist? In this case, would Adventists be the ones who go head-on against this norm?

  • Who said gentiles can't establish holidays for themselves? They only must not observe Shabbat in all its details. Mar 15 at 0:46
  • Look, I see this a lot on Jewish forums. That by doing this they are instituting an obligation of rest upon themselves that God did not allow, that we must work without ceasing as in Genesis 8:22, that at most we can rest from paid work but without instituting upon themselves a holiday that obliges people to do that
    – Thales
    Mar 15 at 1:07
  • Rambam in Melachim 10:9 certainly says they can't establish a holiday for themselves. עכו''ם שעסק בתורה חייב מיתה. לא יעסוק אלא בשבע מצות שלהן בלבד. וכן עכו''ם ששבת אפילו ביום מימות החול. אם עשאהו לעצמו כמו שבת חייב מיתה. ואין צריך לומר אם עשה מועד לעצמו. כללו של דבר אין מניחין אותן לחדש דת ולעשות מצות לעצמן מדעתן. אלא או יהיה גר צדק ויקבל כל המצות. או יעמוד בתורתו ולא יוסיף ולא יגרע. ואם עסק בתורה. או שבת. או חדש דבר. מכין אותו ועונשין אותו. ומודיעין אותו שהוא חייב מיתה על זה אבל אינו נהרג:
    – user6591
    Mar 15 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


I believe there are 3 relevant, interconnected principles involved here:

  1. Do not create a new religion1
  2. Do not add to the commandments1
  3. Non-Jews may not rest on Shabbat2

If a Noachide wishes to rest from occupational work/weekday activities, or keep a secular holiday or a holiday that is designated to honour the One True God (such as thanksgiving or a national prayer day; secular examples are mothers day/fathers day or independence day), it must be done in a way that does not violate any of the above. In The Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner (approved by Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar), he explains that one can set up a day of rest from work, as well as acknowledge and join in with some of the rituals of a Jewish holiday - especially the ones that are relevant to non-Jews like Rosh Hashana or Sukkot.

When it comes to Jewish rituals, each must be taken in its own analysis. Based on here, he may sit in a Sukkah on Sukkot if it is hot that day, and eat matza on Pesach if he enjoys matza... all so long as he is not intending to fulfil the Yom Tov as part of the Jewish Mitzva, or set up a new "mitzva"/yom tov i.e. purely for his own satisfaction. He can wear nicer clothes on Shabbat, prepare a special meal and even light candles (to beautify the meal), even he does so in honour of Shabbat because he wishes to glorify and publicise Hashem.

As this matter is serious, complicated and subtle, I implore any Noahide reading this to follow the rules of the site and CLYOR for how to personally conduct themselves regarding this topic. This answer is grossly insufficient to form the basis for personal practice!

1 - both of these are mentioned in הלכות מלכים ומלחמות פרק י׃ט, see there for sources and discussion.
2 - See Sanhedrin 58B

  • See here: asknoah.org/essay/noahide-holidays
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Mar 15 at 15:33
  • What a complex and difficult subject to express in words. I'll ask better. Are Gentiles forbidden to rest on the Sabbath but may they do so on any other day of the week? What is rest? Not going to work or copying the Jews? If I don't go to work on Saturday would I be disobeying this precept? I think that's what I really wanted to know.
    – Thales
    Mar 15 at 15:41
  • If a non-Jew ritualistically abstains from any weekday activities and makes a sabbath for himself, even on a weekday, he is liable. Religiously prohibiting oneself from work (any work!) would count. However, simply establishing a day off from occupational work (resting), even Saturday, without any religious reasoning, is fine @Thales. Still CYLOR please
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Mar 15 at 15:49
  • 1
    Thanks, I viewed the link you left me and it answered everything I wanted to know.
    – Thales
    Mar 15 at 15:54
  • Only one thing was left unanswered. The question of Seventh-day Adventists, they say they follow the rule of keeping the Sabbath, not if they keep it like the Jews but in any case they do it purposefully and religiously. Are they wrong and if so in what way could it help them to understand that it is a precept purely for Jews and they don't count?
    – Thales
    Mar 15 at 16:00

See Sanhedrin 58B where it discusses the fact that Non-Jews can't keep a sabbath (any day of the week).

Rashi d"h עובד כוכבי׳ ששבת there Rashi says one must not do מלאכה for one full day. Likely evening and morning which non-Jews don't do anyway. However Ravina points out according to Rashi any day made for resting (including non-creative work) is prohibited.

I would be curious if this point of Rashi to not allow any rest from Melacha, is similarly for a night and day (a Jewish day), which does not apply to a non-Jewish day which is from sunrise to sunset. If true there wouldn't be a violation of this specific prohibition for non-Jewish holidays. This would require much more research.

According to the Rambam Hilchos Melachim (10:9) it appears to be prohibited because it is like making a new religion.

According to the Meiri שם the Jewish holidays were given to the Jewish people and so someone who keeps them is liable to be punished, since he will look like a Jew and confuse others. I don't have a Meiri to check inside but this might imply clearly non-Jewish holidays are not at odds here.

Rav Moshe (YD 2 Siman 7) does point out that making a new religion is in itself an issue.

The Malbim states the issue seems to be that since Noach work must be done on the earth for it to provide food and only the Jews were given a break for the Sabbath, this would not be allowed for Non-Jews who are still under the conditions of work that Noah had to do. https://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=6686&pgnum=400

  • This thing of complying or not is more about conscience, isn't it? Like even if a person doesn't do anything in a day, not knowing anything about the reality of a Jewish Sabbath, he is not wrong since he didn't do it to identify himself as a Jew. Now the question is really about instituting holidays, do holidays as they are in the world hurt any principle of not keeping the Sabbath?
    – Thales
    Mar 15 at 15:30
  • @Thales with my limited understanding I don't think someone can accidentally keep the sabbath as a non-Jew and be liable, no. Holidays instituted would need to be similar to the Sabbath to be in contradiction to penalty. I can't imagine non-Jewish holidays being a good idea if you believe in Judaism but they don't rest like we do...
    – msj121
    Mar 15 at 15:41
  • I'm a gentile dear msj121 so I'm questioning about this because the explanations I've always heard led me to this doubt
    – Thales
    Mar 15 at 15:47
  • @Thales I have changed my answer to reflect ur question about holidays more specifically.
    – msj121
    Mar 15 at 16:32

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