Dancing and Clapping on Shabbat

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Chazal forbade dancing and clapping on Shabbat and Yom Tov so that a person doesn't come to fix a musical instrument on Shabbat or Yom Tov. Some authorities and minhagim are lenient to allow it nowadays, while others do not.

Dancing or Clapping

  1. It's forbidden to dance or clap on Shabbat.[1] However, clapping in a weird way (i.e. with a shinuy) is permitted.[2]
  2. However, some have the minhag to be lenient regarding all dancing and clapping, and one shouldn't protest those who are lenient.[3]
  3. Many authorities say that one shouldn't rely on this lenient minhag except in cases of mitzvah.[4] Sephardim should be strict in all cases.[5]
  4. For the honor of the Torah it's permissible to dance on Simchat Torah.[6] It is still forbidden to clap and dance for a chattan and kallah.[7]

Rhythms or beats

  1. It is forbidden to play a musical instrument even if the sound produced isn't musical or rhythmic.[8]
    1. Examples of instruments included are whistles, rattles, bells, horns, and groggers.[9]
  2. It's forbidden to make music (a rhythm) using any tool, or even one's hand (such as snapping).[10]
    1. Therefore, one may not knock on a door with one’s fist in a rhythm.[11]
  3. According to Ashkenazim, one may not use a door knocker to knock on the door, even without a rhythm, as it is considered an instrument designated for making sound.[12]
  4. If there is no other entrance available and one needs to enter it is permitted to open a door on Shabbat which has bells attached to it. It is preferable to remove the bells before Shabbat.[13]
  5. It is permissible to use an object not designed for producing sound, in order to produce sound, provided that the sound is not rhythmic.
    1. For example, it's permissible to tap on a glass (cup) to get the audience's attention, or to knock on a door with a key.[14]
  6. One may set an alarm clock before Shabbat even though it will make noise on Shabbat.[15]
  7. After fulfilling the mitzvah of blowing (or listening) to the Shofar one may not blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana for practice or amusement. The same restriction applies to Shabbat and Yom Tov.[16]


  1. Regarding children and noisemakers, see Games on Shabbat.


  1. It is permitted to sing or whistle (with one's mouth) on Shabbat.[17]



  1. Shulchan Aruch 339:3, Rambam Shabbat 23:5. The Mishna in Beitzah 36b writes that it’s forbidden to clap or dance on Yom Tov or Shabbat. The Gemara (36b) explains that this is a rabbinic prohibition in order to prevent a person from coming to fix a musical instrument. The gemara (30a) notes that in the times of the amoraim, the common practice of the masses was to clap and dance on shabbat, but that the amoraim refrained from chastising them because they were afraid that the masses wouldn't listen anyway (מוטב שיהו שוגגין ואל יהו מזידין - better that they violate the prohibition due by accident, due to lack of knowledge, rather than to violate it willingly).
  2. The Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 23:5) writes that to clap in a weird way is permitted - ולספק כלאחר יד מותר. The Maggid Mishna explains that this is based on a yerushalmi. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 339:3) paskens like the Rambam. Thus, it is permitted to clap on shabbos in an atypical fashion.
  3. *Tosfot (Beitzah 30a s.v. Tenan) writes that the gezerah of Chazal only applied then when they were experts in fixing musical instruments but it wouldn’t apply to us since we’re not experts in that area.
    • The Bet Yosef 339:3 writes that the implication of all the poskim who simply copy the prohibition of the Mishna is that they do not hold of the logic of Tosfot. The Shulchan Aruch 339:3 rules clearly that it’s forbidden to clap or dance on Shabbat.
    • The Rama writes that the minhag is to be lenient based on the opinion of Tosfot that there’s no prohibition anymore of coming to fix a musical instrument. The implication of the Rama is that this minhag isn’t proper but it’s better not to inform people of the prohibition so that they only violate it unintentionally and not deliberately.
    • Aruch Hashulchan 339:5-9 writes that the logic to be lenient would be that our singing and dancing nowadays is different and would never bring one to fixing an instrument and thus the gezera of Chazal not to dance and clap wouldn't apply to our dancing or clapping.
    • Sh"t Minchat Elazar 1:29 justifies the practice of dancing on Yom Tov for someone who becomes very excited from dancing because it is like the leniency for the simchat mitzva of dancing with the torah on Simchat Torah
  4. The Mishna Brurah 339:10 writes that one shouldn’t rely on this minhag except in cases of mitzvah. This is also the opinion of the Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:43-4. Sh"t Igrot Moshe 2:100 writes that even though most rishonim don't hold of the leniency of tosfot, since the rama quotes tosfot and that is the common minhag, there is what to rely on. Nonetheless, Rav Moshe thinks that a baal nefesh should be strict. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1160) writes that based on the Rama many people permit themselves to clap and drum their fingers while singing (and quotes Igrot Moshe in the footnote).
  5. Sh"t Yechave Daat 2:58, Sh"t Yabea Omer 3:22
  6. Beit Yosef siman 339 (quoting Rav Hai Goan and Mahari Kolon), Mishna Brurah (siman 339 s.k. 8), The 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1160).
  7. Mishna Brura 339:8, Shulchan Aruch Harav 339:2
  8. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1159)
  9. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1161)
  10. Shulchan Aruch 338:1. The Gemara Eiruvin 104a has a dispute between Rav Menashe who forbids any production of sound, and Rava who only forbids making music (קול של שיר). The Bet Yosef 338:1 quotes the Rif and Rambam 23:4 who hold like Rava and infers from the Rosh 10:20 that he also holds like Rava. However, the Rosh and Tur 338:1 quote the Rabbanu Chananel who holds like Rav Menashe. The reason of Rava isn’t clear from the Gemara, Rashi, or Tosfot. However, the Rambam 23:4 writes that the reason of the prohibition is the same as in the Mishna in Beitzah, so that one doesn’t come to fix an instrument. The Magen Avraham 338:1 clearly understands like the Rambam, as he even writes that really there is room for being lenient as the Rama writes in 339:3. This is also codified in Mishna Brurah 338:1. The Mishna Brurah adds that the prohibition is not limited to a musical instrument and also applies to one's hand. The Rambam (hilchot shabbat 23:4) writes that included in the gezeira against making music is that one should not snap their fingers together in the manner of the singers - אַחַת כְּנֶגֶד אַחַת כְּדֶרֶךְ הַמְשׁוֹרְרִים. The Shulchan Aruch (339:3) paskens like this. See also Mishna Brurah s.k. 9.
  11. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1160) based on Mishna Brurah 338:1 (see previous footnote for background). See Orchot Shabbat 2:21(21) who agrees with this.
  12. Rama 338:1 writes that one may not knock on the door with a knocker even though one doesn't intend to make music, because the knocker is designated to make noise. This is based on the Maharil 38:4. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1161), Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 23:55, The Shabbos Home (Rabbi Simcha Cohen, vol 2, pg 535) quote this as halacha. Based on Beiur Halacha 338:1 s.v. Ho'il, the Shabbos Home writes that in cases of great need one is permitted to use the door knocker.
  13. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1161), Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 23:54
  14. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1160)
  15. The Shabbos Home (Rabbi Simcha Cohen, vol 2, pg 537) and Sh"t Maharshag YD 1:7(2) permit. However, Sh"t Igrot Moshe 4:70(4) only permits if it is not heard outside his personal room. See Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:29 (and 28:30 in new edition) who permits before Shabbat setting a mechanical alarm clock that involves removing a pin (see there).
  16. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1162)
  17. Rama 338:1 permits whistling. The Magen Avraham 338:2 explains that this is only referring to whistling which is not musical. However, Mishna Brurah 338:3 disagrees and says even if you whistle a song it is permissible because it is with the mouth. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:2, Rav Aviner (Sh"t She'eilat Shlomo 1:182), Rav Y.D. Soloveitchik (Divrei Harav, pg. 197-198) and 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1160) rule in accordance with the Mishna Brurah. Rabbi Mansour concludes that whistling on Shabbat is permitted but adds that whistling in public isn't becoming of a Ben Torah.
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