The Jewish Eye
Can I Play Chess on Shabbas?
Can I Play Chess on Shabbas?
The Do's and Don'ts of Shabbas, Made Simple!
By Joe Bobker
Gefen Publishing House: Jerusalem and New York, (2008 / 5768)
Reviewed by Simone Bonim - October 27, 2008
Can I Play Chess on Shabbas? is a joyous introduction to the halacha, lore, and beauty of Shabbas. The book is written in a question and answer format, with the questions organized into nineteen thematic chapters. This educational and entertaining book was written by Joe Bobker. He is also the author of many other books such as Torah News U Can Use, Torah with a Twist of Humor, the BIG BOOK of Chassidic Wit and Wisdom, Pirkei Avos with a Twist of Humor, and many more. Boker, who studied at the Mercaz HaRav Kook Yeshiva in Kiryat Moshe (Jerusalem) is also a popular speaker and the author of numerous articles and columns on Jewish subjects.
This book is written for both those who are well versed in the law and lore of Shabbas, as well as for those just starting to observe Shabbas (the Sabbath). Topics in this book run from the mundane such as:
to more tricky questions such as:
- Can I read mail that arrives on Shabbas?
- Why can't shuls have organs?
- What does it mean to get an early start to Shabbas?
- Can I walk on grass on Shabbas?
- What size cup do I need to use for Kiddush on Shabbas?
- Why does the Havdala candle have to have two wicks?
If you are new to Shabbas observance, you might find this book a bit confusing at first glance. However, the more you learn, the easier it will be to make sense of all the do's and don'ts. The reason that newcomers to Shabbas observance might find this book confusing is that when relevant, Bobker provides answers from multiple sources and some of the answers are contradictory. Therefore, it is wise to always consult your Rabbi whenever there is any question about what you should or should not do. This also applies to those who have been scrupulously observing Shabbas their entire lives. In addition to simply answering the various questions, and explaining the basis for each answer, Bobker also delves into the history and lore associated with many of the observances and customs associated with Shabbas.
- Can I serve chocolate-coated strawberries at the Shabbas tisch?
- Last Shabbas I took my baby daughter for a walk in her stroller, and realized I had gone outside the eiruv. What should I have done? Leave her there?
- Can I eat an apple that fell off my tree on Shabbas?
- One of the lenses fell out of my eyeglass frames on Shabbas. Can I put it back in?
- Can I read my New York Times on Shabbas if it's delivered then?
- and the question which lent its name to the book: Can I play chess on Shabbas? (The short answer is yes. Bobker's complete answer is much longer...)
This combination of frank answers put within the context of traditional Jewish folklore and practice makes this book not only educational, but also entertaining to read. Can I Play Chess on Shabbas? is also a book that will encourage you to delve deeper into the meaning and practices associated with Shabbas. This is also a book that you can read straight through, or you can skim through it hunting for exciting tidbits of information. From questions about Shabbas candles and Pets to Prayers and the ins and outs of an Eiruv, this book has a little something for everyone. In short, Can I Play Chess on Shabbas? presents a delightful and edifying overview of the do's and don'ts of Shabbas and a copy of this book belongs in every Jewish household as both a reference book and a study aid!
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- Torah News U Can Use: I Didn't Know That!, by Joe Bobker.
Hundreds of questions and answers on all things Jewish from Torah and Talmud to Jewish history and culture. A great book for learners of all ages and levels.
- The Shabbos Companion: Shabbos Day, by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski.
In this second book in Rabbi Twerski's informative series on Shabbos, Rabbi Twerski interweaves stories, songs, prayers, and customs as he delves into the beauty, significance, and the elements that comprise Shabbos Day.
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