Sabbath Manifesto

Print this page Print this page

In Isaiah 58:13, the Israelites are instructed to "honor the Sabbath by...not pursuing your business, nor speaking of it." Jewish legal authorities further suggested that handling money and making financial transactions on the Sabbath is prohibited because it might tempt you to write something down.

This probably needs more explanation. Why is it a big deal to write on Shabbat? The rabbis of the Talmud enumerated 39 prohibitions for the Sabbath day--one of which was writing. These prohibitions were based on the 39 different types of work it took to build and maintain the Tabernacle. For them, the biggest no-no on the Sabbath is creating something in the physical world (if God can take a day off from creation, so can we). By writing something down, you’ve created something that wasn’t there a second before. Therefore, writing is traditionally verboten.

The ancient sages were so worried that you might be tempted to do commerce on Shabbat that they actually forbid touching money during the day. This falls under the concept of “muktzah,” which prohibits touching any object not set aside for use on the Sabbath.

So don’t get bothered by your rabbi working on Saturdays. Just make sure to not hand him some cash afterward. It might tempt him to write you a thank-you note.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.