Chapter: 18 – Kotev, Moĥek, and Tzove’a

In addition to Kotev (writing), Moĥek (erasing), and Tzove’a (dyeing), this chapter will also explain the melakhot of Mafshit (skinning), Me’abed (tanning), Memaĥek (smoothing), and Mesartet (marking).

01. Kotev and Moĥek

Kotev is the melakha of expressing ideas precisely using letters, numbers, or meaningful pictures in a manner that allows the idea to last a long time. In the Mishkan, letters were written on the posts that formed its walls so … Continue reading

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02. Defining the Prohibition of Writing and Exploring Leniencies for Life-Threatening Situations

It is critically important to define each melakha precisely and establish what is rabbinically prohibited and what is prohibited by Torah law, and moreover these determinations have practical consequences. For example, when writing is necessary in a hospital or in … Continue reading

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03. Incidental Writing and Erasing

One may not cut through letters that are written on a cake in frosting, candy, or the like. Similarly, if a cake is decorated with a meaningful picture, like a tree or a house, one may not cut through the … Continue reading

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04. Temporary Writing, Word Games, and Jigsaw Puzzles

As we have seen, temporary writing is rabbinically prohibited. Erasing something when one does not plan to write something else in its place is rabbinically prohibited as well. Therefore, one may not write in the condensation on a window or … Continue reading

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05. Dyeing

Tzove’a is a melakha with the objective of making something more beautiful. In the Mishkan, the woolen threads of the curtains were dyed indigo, royal purple, and scarlet. Even though the melakha of Kotev can be described as “dyeing” a … Continue reading

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06. Mafshit, Me’abed, Memaĥek, and Mesartet

There are four melakhot that relate to preparing animal skins for writing: Mafshit, Me’abed, Memaĥek, and Mesartet (as explained below). When parchment was the standard writing surface, everyday things were written on it. Nowadays, however, only Torah scrolls, tefilin, and … Continue reading

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