Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Refraining from melachah on Shabbat


The word melachah, as used in the context of Shabbat, refers to the tasks performed in the mishkan (Shabbat 49b; Bava Kama 2a). All of these tasks, and tasks which have similar purposes or methods, are prohibited on Shabbat, as an outgrowth of the Torah's instruction, “You shall perform no melachah.”

The sages have identified many benefits of refraining from performing melachah on Shabbat:

One reason, as brought by the Sefer haChinuch, is that we are meant to spend Shabbat thinking about Gd's creation of the universe.

On another level, Shabbat commemorates our freedom from slavery in Egypt. A slave cannot rest; we are given a day of rest to show that Gd made us into free people.

In yet another approach, Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch suggests that on Shabbat we cease creating in order to recognize that we are not unlimited masters of this world, to manipulate it as we choose.

Have a great day,

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