The Shabbat Primer
Housework Permitted On Shabbat
Although all your major preparations should be done by candle-lighting, there are
a few light household jobs that are permitted afterwards, if necessary. They include
- Sweeping the floor (but not washing or vacuuming it).
- Setting the table (with silverware, dishes, etc.) The tablecloth,
two challot with their cover, the candlesticks and candles must have been set
in place by candlelighting.
- Cutting fruit or vegetables for salads, with these three precautions:
- The cutting should be done close to the mealtime.
- The fruit or vegetables should not be cut into very small
- No mechanical or electrical devices may be used.
- Completing your dressing, except for makeup and hair combing,
which must be finished before candlelighting. A girl or woman performing the
mitzva of candle-lighting should be decently dressed for the occasion (not in
pants or messy work clothes) and a married woman should cover her head. However,
if you do not customarily cover it and you find yourself without a covering,
you may proceed to light the candles. Afterwards you may change your clothes
or finish dressing.
- Washing dishes needed during the same Shabbat. For example, dirty
dishes left in the sink before candlelighting that you need to serve a meal,
or dirty dishes from Shabbat dinner that you need for lunch the next day may
be washed in cold water with liquid soap and nylon net (no sponge or cloth that
retains water). Any dirty pots or dishes definitely not needed again for Shabbat
use should be put out of sight until after havdalah.
- Making beds Shabbat morning. This is permitted because it is part
of keeping the home pleasant for Shabbat.
- Changing guests' bedding.
- Removing and changing bedding soiled by a child or a sick adult.
The bedding may not be soaked or washed, however. Put it into a covered pail
or a plastic bag to prevent odors.
- Taking out garbage, if there is an eruv.
- Blotting liquid spilt on the floor, table, or chairs, by placing
cloths, napkins, pre-torn paper towels, tissues, etc. on the wet spot. These
may not be wrung out.
- Putting away already folded laundry.