What are the laws of Shabbat?

Where does the commandment come from ? Why can’t I ride a bicycle on Shabbat or turn on lights or play on my iPad ?

These were all questions that Rabbi Yaacov Finn from the LSJS attempted to do and did very well!

We were taught that there are many references to Shabbat in the Torah.In Genesis(Breishit) Ch. 2  we learn about how G-d created the world in 6 days and the last day he rested/abstained.

In exodus Ch. 31 we learn how the Shabbat is a covenant between man and G-d.




There are many different references throughout the Torah for example collecting 2 “Loaves” of Manna in the desert on Friday so that they wouldn’t have to collect on Shabbat.(Exodus Ch. 16)

This idea of resting not only applies to yourself but “neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your beast, nor your sojourner who is in your cities. “(Exodus Ch.20)

The Talmud(which is very briefly ,the commentary on the Oral Law) relates a great story .It states that on  a Friday night,  both the good and evil angel follow you home.When they arrive at your home,if they see the candles lit and the table laid and singing of Shalom Aleichem ,the good angel says”‘may it be G-d’s will that the next Shabbat be the same,’ and the evil angel reluctantly answers ‘Amen.’ If [the home is] not [prepared for Shabbat], the evil angel proclaims ‘may it be G-d’s will that the next Shabbat be the same,’ and the good angel must answer ‘Amen”

We then looked at all the different items we use on Shabbat and why we use them, for example the Kiddush cup,the challah ,the candles the spices and other.


 Lastly,and this was the most debated area,we looked at the 39 Melachot(main activities) that we are prohibited from doing on Shabbat as listed in the Mishna(Oral Law) and they are :

1. Zoreah – Sowing (seeding)

2. Choresh – Plowing

3. Kotzair – Reaping (cutting)

4. M’amair – Gathering (bundling sheaves)

5. Dush – Threshing

6. Zoreh – Winnowing

7. Borer – Sorting (selecting, separating)

8. Tochain – Grinding

9. Miraked – Sifting

10. Lush – Kneading

11. Ofeh / (Bishul) – Baking/cooking

12. Gozez – Shearing

13. Melabain – Whitening (bleaching)

14. Menafetz – Disentangling, Combing

15. Tzovayah – Dyeing

16. Toveh – Spinning

17. Maisach – Mounting the warp (stretching threads onto loom)

18. Oseh Beit Batai Neirin – Setting two heddles (preparing to weave)

19. Oraig – Weaving

20. Potzai’ah – Separating (removing) threads (Unweaving)

21. Koshair – Tying a knot

22. Matir – Untying a knot

23. Tofair – Sewing

24. Ko’reah – Tearing (unsewing – ripping)

25. Tzud – Trapping

26. Shochet – Slaughtering (Killing)

27. Mafshit – Skinning

28. M’abaid – Salting/tanning process [1]

29. Mesharteit – Tracing (scratching) lines

30. Memacheik – Smoothing / scraping

31. Mechateich – Cutting (to shape)

32. Kotaiv – Writing two or more letters

33. Mochaik – Erasing two or more letters

34. Boneh – Building

35. Soiser – Demolishing

36. Mechabeh – Extinguishing (putting out a flame)

37. Ma’avir – Kindling (making a fire)

38. Makeh B’Patish – Striking the final blow (Finishing an object)

39. Hotza’ah – Transferring (transporting) from domain to domain

This was very interesting as all questions asked as to why we can’t do something on Shabbat were shown to be one of these prohibitions above.We spoke about carrying on Shabbat and that this was based on law 39 i.e. Transferring(transporting) from domain to domain.We identified 3 different domains and where we can’t carry.This gave rise to heated discussion which is what we Jews are all about and it was at this moment I felt that we were really starting to learn and to engage.

Rabbi Finn ended his shiur and as usual we had refreshments except that this time we has a great big platter of Sushi and pastries which were all devoured.



We look forward to inviting Rabbi Rafi Zarum to our next weeks shiur on Kashrut,which is the last of our 4 part series on Practical Judiasm.


A reminder that he will also be leading our next weeks tour of the Natural History Museum where we will be looking at Evolution,Creation and Dinosaurs and what this all says for our belief and religion today.I expect this to be a brilliant tour and we only have 2 spaces left.


 Shabbat Shalom







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