"In the third book I will include all the commandments
that apply at specific times, such as the sabbath and
festivals. And I have called this book the Book of
12. The Sabbath - Shabbos
a) Sabbath Work
We are commanded to rest on the seventh day of
the week, as it says "And on the seventh day you
shall rest"1; and we are forbidden to work then,
as it says "You shall not do any work".2 One who
publicly violates the sabbath is like an idolator
since the sabbath is an eternal sign between G-d
and Israel.3,a Even our animals must rest on the
sabbath, as it says "You and your son and your
daughter and your slave and your maidservant and
your animal".2 In particular our animals must not
carry loads on the sabbath, as it says "In order
that your ox and ass may rest".1,b
It is rabbinically forbidden to ask a non-Jew
even before the sabbath to do work for us on
the sabbath; but one may hire a non-Jew for a fixed
task or for a long period of time even though he
works on the sabbath, provided it is not obvious
that he is doing work for a Jew on the sabbath.c
It is permitted to ask a non-Jew to do work
on the sabbath for a sick person even if there is
no danger to life; if there is such danger one may
violate the sabbath oneself.d In certain cases it
is also permitted to ask a non-Jew to perform acts
on the sabbath that are forbidden to a Jew only
It is permitted to initiate a process before the
sabbath that involves work even though it continues
by itself on the sabbath. For example, one may
light a fire before the sabbath and derive benefit
from its light on the sabbath, or one may put
food on the fire before the sabbath and eat it on
the sabbath after it has cooked, provided there
is no likelihood that one will need to adjust the
fire on the sabbath.f
b) Categories of Work
There are 39 categories of forbidden work:g
"Plowing": digging in or improving the ground.
"Sowing": promoting the growth of plants.
"Reaping": detaching something from its place
of growth. Making any use of a growing
plant or live animal is rabbinically
forbidden since it may lead to "reaping".
"Making sheaves": gathering food together and
making a single object out of it.
"Threshing": separating [food from its
natural container]; includes squeezing fruit
for its juice, milking, and drawing blood.
7. & 9. "Winnowing", "Separating", "Sifting":
separating food from inedible matter or solids
from liquids or one food from another
(except to eat immediately).
"Grinding": dividing an object into many
small parts. Many medical treatments
are rabbinically forbidden to one who is
not sick since they may lead to "grinding"
"Kneading": [mixing a finely divided solid
with liquid until it becomes a single object].
"Baking": cooking (hardening or softening) an
object or heating a liquid using heat
originating from a fire; with heat from
other sources it is rabbinically forbidden.
Bathing in hot water is rabbinically
forbidden since it may lead to heating
water. Salting and pickling are rabbinically
forbidden since they resemble cooking.
"Shearing": detaching hair, feathers, or
nails from skin.
"Whitening": washing materials or clothes
(or rabbinically, spreading them to dry or
"Carding": separating an object into fibers.
"Dyeing": permanently coloring an object or
"Spinning": making fibers into thread or felt.
to 19. "Weaving": making threads into cloth (includes
basket-weaving, plaiting, and the like).
"Tying": making permanent knots (includes
"Sewing": includes pasting together.
"Building": putting parts together and making
a single object; includes making floors,
walls, or roofs, making utensils, and making
cheese. If the structure is not permanent
the prohibition is at most rabbinical.
"Hitting with a hammer : finishing part of a
structure or utensil. It is rabbinically
forbidden to play music since it may lead
to making or repairing a musical instrument;
to swim, since it may lead to making a
life preserver; or to wash utensils if they
are not needed for the sabbath.
"Hunting": capturing a creature that is
"Slaughtering": taking life.
"Skinning": [removing a layer from an object].
"Tanning": [softening] something other than
"Cutting": something other
than food to a desired size.
"Writing". All business transactions, acts of
court, and related calculations or measurements
are rabbinically forbidden since
they may lead to writing.
"Marking": in preparation for cutting or
"Burning": making a fire or adding fuel to
it; includes heating metal. It is
rabbinically forbidden to handle a fire or
to make use of it in cases where this may
lead to adjusting it.
"Extinguishing": or removing fuel; includes
tempering metal. One is allowed to rescue
only a limited amount from a fire since
otherwise one may come to extinguish it.
"Taking from one domain to another" (i.e.,
from a private to a public domain or vice
versa) by carrying or throwing; includes
moving objects four cubits or more in a public
domain. Public domains include marketplaces
and roads that are at least 16 cubits
wide and are not roofed over. A private
domain must be at least four handsbreadths
square and must be surrounded by a wall at
least ten handsbreadths high or must be at
least ten handsbreadths higher or lower than
its surroundings. It is rabbinically forbidden
to move objects four cubits or more even in a
karmelis (a domain at least four handsbreadths
square that [is adjacent to a public domain and]
is separated from it by a wall, height, or
depth of between three and ten handsbreadths)
or to take anything from a karmelis to either
a public or private domain or vice versa. If
a private domain is not primarily for dwelling
and is more than 70 cubits square it is also
forbidden to move objects four cubits or more in it.
c) Other Sabbath Prohibitions
The courts may not administer punishment on
the sabbath, as it says "You shall not kindle fire
in any of your dwelling places on the sabbath day.4,h
It is forbidden on the sabbath to leave the vicinity of one's
city or the vicinity of the place where one was when the sabbath
began, as it says "Let no man go
out of his place on the seventh day".5 The sages
defined "vicinity" as a distance of up to 2000 cubits.
If the place is a private domain the 2000 cubits are measured
beyond its borders even if it is very large.i
In order to distinguish the sabbath from ordinary days,
certain acts are rabbinically forbidden on the
sabbath even though they do not resemble work and
do not lead to work, as it says "If you withhold
your foot on the sabbath from doing your business on
My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, Ha-Shem's
holy one honored, and honor it by not pursuing your
affairs, seeking your desires or speaking things".6
One should therefore not inspect his property or discuss business
on the sabbath, or start out toward a place where he will do work
after the sabbath.j
It is rabbinically forbidden on the
sabbath to handle objects other than food and utensils, or
objects that were not fit for use (e.g., whose use was
forbidden) when the sabbath began, or utensils that
are used for forbidden work unless they are needed
for a permissible purpose.k Removal of dirt and the
like is permitted, as is care of the dead.l
d) Sanctifying the Sabbath
We are commanded to recite benedictions at the
beginning and end of the sabbath, as it says "Remember
the sabbath day to sanctify it".7 The sages
ordained that these benedictions be made over wine
(the first can also be made over bread) and that
wine also be drunk before the sabbath morning meal.
Benedictions over fragrances and fire were also
instituted at the end of the sabbath.m
One should honor the sabbath by washing and
putting on clean clothes (which should be distinctive),
setting one's house in order, setting the table,
and lighting a candle.n One should make the sabbath
enjoyable by preparing choice foods and eating three
meals -- one in the evening, one in the morning, and
one in the afternoon; at each meal two loaves of
bread should be used.o It is forbidden to fast or
pray for one's wants on the sabbath except in
Sources in the Bible / Tanach
Sources in the Mishneh Torah for the 39 Categories of Forbidden Work