On Shabbat “You Shall Not Do Any Work”

Girl resting on benchShabbat is a day of rest … God commanded “You shall not do any work…” Six days a week a week I sit at a desk. I’m an accountant…. On Shabbat I want to do something that isn’t “work” like tending my garden and maintaining the yard. To me this is rest… Is this acceptable? I’m told NO!…. So what is work.

“Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy; six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day is a Sabbath of the Eternal your God; you shall not do any work…” (Exodus 20:8;-10)

The question of what constitutes “work” has been a question since the commandment was heard by the people.

To answer this question, the ancient Rabbis looked to the Torah. Based on the following, they defined work as the act of creating. In Genesis they saw “Heaven and earth, and all their components were complete. With the seventh day, God finished all the work (melakha)  that He had done. He ceased on the seventh day from all work (melakha) that he had been doing. God blessed the seventh day, and declared it to be holy, for it was this day that God ceased from all the work (melakha) that he had been creating.”  (Genesis 2:1-3)

Specifically, the Rabbis saw that God had ceased creating… stopped working.

Then the Rabbis noted the detailed instructions God commanded the people to use in creating or “working” to build the Tabernacle. (Exodus 31:1-11) To define what constitutes work, these Rabbis listed all the functions used to build this “holy” structure in the Mishnah –  Tract Shabbat 7:2. (Based on Wikipedia article “Activities prohibited on Shabbat”)

The list below comes from the Mishnah, Shabbat 7:2. It is not meant to be totally inclusive, but to provide guidelines for defining “work”.  Work that is similar to those listed should also be considered prohibited.

The 39 activities prohibited on Shabbat:

  1.  Planting
  2.  Plowing
  3.  Reaping
  4.  Gathering
  5.  Threshing/Extraction
  6.  Winnowing
  7.  Sorting/Purification
  8.  Grinding
  9.  Sifting
  10.  Kneading/Amalgamation
  11.  Cooking/Baking
  12.  Shearing
  13.  Scouring/Laundering
  14.  Carding/Combing wool
  15.  Dyeing
  16.  Spinning
  17.  Warping
  18.  Making two loops/threading needles
  19.  Weaving
  20.  Separating two threads
  21.  Tying
  22.  Untying
  23.  Sewing
  24.  Tearing
  25.  Trapping
  26.  Slaughtering
  27.  Flaying/Skinning
  28.  Curing/Preserving
  29.  Smoothing
  30.  Scoring
  31.  Measured Cutting
  32.  Writing
  33.  Erasing
  34.  Building
  35.  Demolition
  36.  Extinguishing a fire
  37.  Igniting a fire
  38. Applying the finishing touch
  39.  Transferring between domains (carrying)

So, I guess tending my garden and mowing my lawn is prohibited on Shabbat (#1 – Plowing, #2 – Planting, and #5 – Threshing and extraction)…. Guess, I’ll just take a nap.

What are your thoughts on WORK? Let us know at http://www.JewishMeltingPot.com  Send us a note with a comment or email us at info@JewishMeltingPot.com





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