Question: Is sexual intimacy OK on Shabbat?
Yes, sex is permitted and even encouraged on Shabbat.
The Talmud is full of positive references to sexual intercourse between married partners on Shabbat. Since Shabbat is a day of rest and enjoyment, Friday night is often considered an optimal time for marital relations. In Bava Kamma 82a, the Gemara says:
One should eat garlic on Shabbat eve. This is due to the fact that garlic enhances sexual potency, and Friday night is an appropriate time for conjugal relations.
Today, Jewish people in many different communities have the practice to set aside time on Shabbat for sexual intimacy. Shabbat is considered a particularly holy time to fulfill the mitzvahs of onah (pleasurable marital relations) and pru ur’vu (be fruitful and multiply).
Nonetheless, there are some bedroom activities that are avoided on Shabbat due to the prohibition against melacha, or forbidden labor. For example, tying knots or using an electric vibrator are both violations of traditional Shabbat law.
Rabbi Lara Haft Yom-Tov is a Jewish educator based in London.