Yeshaya 58:13 states that Shabbat is called oneg (delight). I have seen several different items described as oneg shabbos including taking a nap, marital relations, enjoying food at the shabbat meals and refraining from work. I would like to know if oneg simply means anything that a person enjoys in which case, for example, reading a book could be oneg shabbos. Or, if there are any halachic criteria for this concept.


2 Answers 2


The Vilna Gaon writes that the definition of oneg shabbos is the enjoyment of things on shabbos itself, in contrast to kavod shabbos which is the all the preparation one does before shabbos.

Rav Ovadia Yosef, quoted in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of Yalkut Yosef (רמב) says this explicitly as well:

הכל איש מישראל מחוייב בכבוד ועונג שבת. וכבוד שבת הוא מהדברים הנעשים קודם השבת, לכבודה של השבת. ובכלל זה הוא שירחוץ פניו ידיו ורגליו בחמין בערב- שבת, ויחליף בגדיו בבגדים נאים, שלא יהיה מלבושו של שבת כמלבושו של חול. ועונג שבת הוא מהדברים הנעשים בשבת עצמה, כגון אכילה ושתיה, וכיו''ב. [ילקוט יוסף, שבת כרך א עמוד יא].

As an example see the Remas comment on the Shulchan Aruch (או"ח שו-א) regarding ודבר דבר, the manner of speech on shabbos should be different than from the week:

א. ודבר דבר שלא יהא דבורך של שבת כדבורך של חול הלכך אסור לומר דבר פלוני אעשה למחר או סחורה פלונית אקנה למחר ואפילו בשיחת דברים בטלים אסור להרבות. הגה: ובני אדם שסיפור שמועות ודברי חידושים הוא עונג להם מותר לספרם בשבת כמו בחול אבל מי שאינו מתענג אסור לאמרם כדי שיתענג בהם חבירו (תרומת הדשן סימן ס''א):

The Rema says that if one derives benefit from telling over news and stories, it is permitted to speak about it on shabbos. However, if one does not enjoy this manner of speaking than it is forbidden.

Regarding reading a book for enjoyment on shabbos, the Rabbi on this site seems to qualify enjoyment on Shabbos as to be only something that is constructive and positive eg. reading a history book in order to see the ways Divine provedence:


The Pasuk reads (Devarim 32:7): “Remember days long gone by. Ponder the years of each generation. Ask your father and let him tell you, and your grandfather, who will explain it.” Clearly, then, the study of history is permitted where there is a positive purpose involved, such as understanding the ways of Divine providence, comprehending our own place on the historical timeline, and understanding the Torah better by recognizing personal and historical context.

Moreover,the study of some secular subjects, including literature, is able to develop a person’s abilities to write and discuss matters in depth, to enhance our understanding of human interaction in many spheres, and to be part of a person’s self development.

It is possible that the “history” referred to by the Shulchan Aruch refers to trumped-up legends of kings and their glories, written by the victors – and not to the deeper (and often critical) modern study of history. The idea is that a person shouldn’t waste his time on nothing-ness and nonsense, and should pursue productive goals and activities.

The reading of novels and sport books will depend on the value of doing so. If this is an important part of a person’s recreation, and allows him to thrive in significant areas of his life, then its fine. If a person spends his whole day on sports and novels, then this is obviously harming his general function, and he should consider how to focus on the more productive.

Best wishes.

  • To address the OP's suggestion of reading a book, it must be noted that actions taken to fulfill 'Oneg Shabbat must, of course, be in accordance with Halakhah. As regards the OP's example, certain material is forbidden from being read on Shabbat.
    – Lee
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 6:15
  • Does one get a Mitzvah through the food he eats out of the meals?
    – MosheRabbi
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 5:48
  • Why is wearing nice clothing considered מהדברים הנעשים קודם השבת
    – MosheRabbi
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 7:52
  • @MosheRabbi Regarding wearing nice clothing being considered as done before the Shabbat: It doesn't say to wear nice clothing (וילבש בגדים נאים), but to exchange his [weekday] clothing with nice clothing, so that what he wears on the Shabbat won't be like what he wears on a weekday("ויחליף בגדיו בבגדים נאים ..."). That could simply just mean setting nice clothing to be worn on the Shabbat, as opposed to the regular clothing set for wearing on weekdays.
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 16:30

The Mishna Berurah writes (ס' רמא) that when in Yeshaya it says "Shabbos Shabbaton Mikra Kodesh..." that Chazal understand this to mean that one must honor and enjoy shabbos. One honors Shabbos through clean clothes and enjoys Shabbos through eating and drinking nice foods. The M"B continues to say that the typical food which one enjoys is meat and wine, and so there is a concept to have this at his meals. He then mentions that oneg shabbos comes from the eating of "dagim gedolim - big/great fish," and continues to say that one should eat fish at all three meals. However, if one does not like fish, then he should not eat it since it would not bring him enjoyment. He continues to discuss that one fulfills the concept of "oneg shabbos" by having three meals (those who cannot afford 3, can have 2 and must spend other money on obtaining shabbos candles). However, later on (a few simanim later -- in regards to neiros shabbos - shabbos candles) he writes that the main aspect of oneg shabbos is the candles at the meal. So, so far we have discussed eating, drinking, and candles.

In the book, Kitzur Hilchos Shabbos, it brings a nice idea that Shabbos (ש.ב.ת.) stands for שינה בשבת תענג - He will enjoy sleep on shabbos.

There is also, though I can't remember where I've seen it, a concept to have relations on Shabbos. Explained by the fact that the holiness of Shabbos is a suitable time to engage in the holy mitzvah "to be fruitful and multiply" as well as that this is something that brings both the husband and the wife enjoyment.

Finally, in regards to doing "anything," obviously these things have to be within the framework of what is permissible on shabbos. There are other things for which shabbos is a particularly appropriate time for doing them such as learning torah (I can't remember the source).

All in all, we see that there are specific things that define oneg shabbos and contribute to it, but as whole it is a broad category which leaves room for individuality and one's own (kosher) taste.

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