Chapter: 09 – The Principles of the Melakhot

01. The Torah’s Commandment

Cessation from all melakha[1] on Shabbat is a positive commandment, as the Torah states: “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease” (Shemot 23:12). One who performs melakha on Shabbat not only neglects … Continue reading

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02. The 39 Melakhot That Were Performed in the Mishkan, and Their Derivatives

The melakhot that are prohibited on Shabbat are those that were performed in erecting the Mishkan. Almost immediately following the section dealing with erecting the Mishkan, the Torah states: “Nevertheless, you must keep My Shabbatot” (Shemot 31:13). This teaches us … Continue reading

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03. The Rabbinic Prohibition of Performing Melakha with a Shinui or Together with Another Person

As we saw (section 1), the Torah prohibits doing melakha on Shabbat in a normal manner as the craftsmen did in the Mishkan, as it is written: “to work with every melekhet maĥshevet” (Shemot 35:33). However, if one performs the … Continue reading

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04. The Principles Underlying Rabbinic Enactments and Decrees Regarding Shabbat

The Sages instituted numerous enactments concerning Shabbat in order to erect a protective fence around the Torah. They prohibited taking medication lest one grind up ingredients to produce them (below 28:4); they prohibited riding on animals and using trees so … Continue reading

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05. Davar She-eino Mitkaven and Psik Reisha

If one wishes to engage in a permissible activity, but in the course of doing so might also perform a prohibited action, he may undertake the permitted action on two conditions: that he does not intend to perform the action, … Continue reading

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06. Melakha She-eina Tzerikha Le-gufah

As we have learned, there is a special principle that applies on Shabbat prohibiting only melekhet maĥshevet, a melakha done intentionally and thoughtfully. In this context, a disagreement arose among the Tanna’im concerning a case in which one intends to … Continue reading

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07. Kilkul

The Torah only prohibits melakhot whose purposes are constructive, like the “melekhet maĥshevet” of the Mishkan. Accordingly, one who performs a melakha in a destructive or ruinous manner (derekh kilkul) has not transgressed a Torah prohibition, but only a rabbinic … Continue reading

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08. Kiyum

The Torah prohibits melakha on Shabbat only when the result is lasting (mitkayem). If it is not lasting, there is no Torah prohibition. Therefore, one who writes with a pencil or pen on paper transgresses a Torah prohibition, since this … Continue reading

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09. Grama

The Sages learn from the verse, “You shall not do any melakha” (Shemot 20:10), that the Torah prohibits the actual performance of a melakha, but if the melakha is done automatically, even if a person caused it to be done, … Continue reading

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10. Children, Non-Jews, and Animals

In addition to the prohibition of doing melakha on Shabbat, we are also enjoined to allow our entire household to rest – children, servants, and animals – as is written: “You shall not do any melakha – you, your son … Continue reading

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