This is one of the most needful subjects today and perhaps one of the most difficult to discuss. It is needful because few seem to have a good balance in this area between work and play. When one factors in service to YHWH, then this subject becomes even more difficult to understand in light of Scripture. This is perhaps true since there are no clear references to recreation in Scripture, at least not in English versions of Scripture.
Likewise, it is also difficult to discuss because many followers of Mashiach soundly condemn any form of recreation, particularly if that recreation comes in the form of entertainment. This subject can become fraught with emotions and go off topic rather quickly if one does not work to keep his emotions in check. We will endeavor to look into this subject from a rational point of view based upon Scripture.
In a society which is basically hedonistic, such an attribute will naturally be reflected in the believing community. Hedonism is the seeking after pleasure for the sake of pleasure. It basically boils down to: "Why are we doing what we are doing?" Sometimes, this question is not an easy question to answer. However, it is vital that one answer it if he is going to honestly face the question and place of recreation in his life according to YHWH.
One of the guiding principles across all aspects of our lives in Mashiach needs to be to let YHWH be the Elohim of my neighbors and brethren. I cannot attempt to dictate to another person for any reason in any matter how he must or should live his life. This is particularly true in the matter of recreation. Each person must always be extra careful not to condemn another for his recreation. If we see something which concerns us, then we must certainly go to the other person, in private, and calmly and rationally discuss the matter with him, being careful not to put our own personal convictions upon him as if they were equivalent to Torah. To do such a thing is breaking the commandment not to add to or take away from Torah. Furthermore, such an action is idolatrous.
Since there are not many passages which deal with this subject, that is, there are no passages in which we find, "Thus says YHWH..." on the subject of recreation, we must then look for some guiding principles contained in Scripture which deal with this matter. YHWH has placed two types of passages for us to glean understanding. One type consists of passages where some type of play is being referenced as being good in the eyes of YHWH, and the other type of passage consists of some type of play being referenced as being evil in the eyes of YHWH. Hopefully, by examining these two types of passages with honesty, we will be able to draw some well-grounded principles to help guide us in our daily living concerning the matter of recreation.
Our opening passage contains a direct commandment to work for six days and rest upon the seventh day. This cycle is occasionally broken by YHWH's own calendar when one of His appointed times falls in the midst of the week, thus giving us extra days off from this six days of work followed by one day of rest cycle.
One thing we all desire to avoid is being guilty of adding to or taking away from His Torah. To rightfully guard against this, it seems reasonable that one must rightly understand what it means to add to or take away from His Torah. This may seem rather simplistic, or that such an idea is so simple, or that it is a given, and everyone should easily understand what this principle means. However, we submit to you that, while many see what the words mean, in a practical sense, few understand how those words should be rightly applied in our everyday living. Simply put, to add to Torah is to take something which is not Torah and elevate it to the same level of Torah, thus making it binding upon others, or to take something which is Torah and to make it void or null, thus doing away with it. If neither one of these is done, then the commandment to not add to or take away from Torah is not broken. Thus, when it comes to traditions, there are many traditions which do not violate this commandment. Those traditions which are elevated to the status and force of Torah are a violation of Torah. To determine this, each tradition must be examined on an individual basis. What this means in a practical sense then is this: a tradition to one person may be a violation of Torah and yet to another it may not be a violation. It depends upon how an individual sees and acts upon the tradition. Keeping these things in mind, let us proceed into examining a few passages of Scripture which deal with "play" (recreation).