Modern Commentary

Torah & Spirit
Family Life






Work that is Prohibited on Holidays

We must not sell, or buy, or do any kind of work other than that which is permitted in the Torah in relation to the preparation of food. It is written, “no manner of work shall be done in them [i.e., the first and last days of the Haggim], save that which every person must eat" (Shemot [Exodus] 12:16).

All our food for the first and last days of the festival, then, must be prepared before the day comes in: food, drink, etc. This means that all meat must be slaughtered, and all fruits and vegetables must be gathered from their stalks.

It is forbidden to glean what has dropped down from trees upon a holiday. It is forbidden to milk animals or grind or sift flour. It is forbidden to catch fish or birds.

It is forbidden to cut firewood or grind rock salt or grains of perfume in a mortar.

We must not kindle fire, nor extinguish it. We are not, however, forbidden to have in our dwellings a fire previously kindled, since we have to leave it burning for the preparation of food. This being the case, we may use it for lighting as well.

We must not sharpen knives or fan a fire with a bellows.

We must not carry things in the streets and lanes or other public places.

We must not go out upon the public highways, into the outskirts of the city, or outside it. This is on analogy with the laws of Shabbat, since these days are called Shabbaton [a day of Shabbat-like observance]. Likewise it is forbidden to do any sport, since all of this is the opposite of the sanctity required for the day.

It is forbidden for judges to hold court or undertake any labour from which we might benefit after the holiday.

In general, all the work that is forbidden on Shabbat is forbidden also on a holiday, save what the Miqra’ [Scripture] has excepted pertaining to the preparation of food. One is not permitted to intentionally make more food than is required for consumption by those present for holiday meals.