So much of Shabbat is focused on resting, and by association, not working. You’d think that the idea of avoiding commerce on Shabbat is directly connected to this idea, but it’s not that simple. After all, rabbis go to work on Saturday morning.
The Ten Principles
|1. Avoid technology. 2. Connect with loved ones. 3. Nurture your health. 4. Get outside. 5. Avoid commerce. 6. Light candles. 7. Drink wine. 8. Eat bread. 9. Find silence. 10. Give back.|
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.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
Pronounced: TALL-mud, Origin: Hebrew, the set of teachings and commentaries on the Torah that form the basis for Jewish law. Comprised of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it contains the opinions of thousands of rabbis from different periods in Jewish history.