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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

VaYakhel 22-1

And he caused them to gather

Exodus 35:1-20

Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.

Ex. 35:2 ESV

What is a melachah"?

There are two main words in Hebrew translated as work, melachahמלאכה – and avodahעבדה. The prohibition for Shabbat is to do a melachah, not avodah. Then, in order to know what is forbidden to do in Shabbat it is necessary to define what a melachah is. And since the word melachah is found as a summary of all the work of the creation (Gen. 2:3) the term can be understood as all kind of creative work, anything that intervenes in the creation. And since the same word is also found in the texts that speak about the tabernacle's construction, the sages of Israel related melachah with everything that has to do with the building of the tabernacle.

From there stem the 39 general types of work that are forbidden for Shabbat: sow, plow, harvest, bind weaves, thresh, separate chaff, weed, grind, sift, knead, prepare, shear sheep, wash wool, fluff it, dye it, spin, weave, make two strings, sew two threads, separate two threads, tie knots, untie knots, make two seams, tear something apart to make two seams, hunt deer, kill it, flay it, salt it, tan the hide, polish it, cut it, write two letters, erase something to write two letters, build up, tear down, put out a fire, light a fire, hammer, carry an object between two fixed points.

This text is for Jews. Non Jewish disciples aren’t obligated to abstain from the 39 melachot during Shabbat, but they do well if the refrain from some of them.

Shavua tov,


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