By: Emil G. Hirsch, Joseph Jacobs, Executive Committee of the Editorial Board., Julius H. Greenstone
Table of Contents
- —Biblical Data:
- Non-Observance by Some in Prophetic Times.
- —In Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha:
- In Josephus and the Classical Writers.
- —In Post-Biblical Literature:
- In Philo.
- In the Talmud.
- Haggadic References.
- Probable Lunar Origin.
- —Critical View:
- Assyrian Analogues.
- Evolution of Conception of Sabbath Rest.
- —Historical and Legal:
- Military Exceptions.
- Restricted Freedom of Movement.
- Restrictions on Riding.
- Against Kindling Fire.
- Employment of the “Goy.”
- Principle of Halakah.
- Motive Considered.
- Friday Preparation.
- The Sabbath Lamp.
- The Thirty-nine Prohibited Acts.
- Underlying Principle of Preparation.
- Sabbath Garb.
- Suspensions of the Sabbath.
- New Testament Examples.
- Sabbath Celebration.
- Sabbath Prayers.
- In the Decalogue.
- Classes of Prohibited Work.
- Modifications as to Punishment.
- Exceptions When Life Is in Danger.
- Sabbath Work by Gentile for Jew.
- Speaking on Business Matters Forbidden.
- Sabbath Journey Limited.
- Provisions for Sabbath Joy.
- Sabbath Ritual.
- Sabbath-Afternoon Service.
- Exaltation of the Sabbath.
The seventh day of the week; the day of rest.—Biblical Data:
On the completion of His creative work God blessed and hallowed the seventh day as the Sabbath (Gen. ii. 1-3). The Decalogue in Exodus (xx. 8) reverts to this fact as the reason for the commandment to “remember” the Sabbath day to keep it holy. The Sabbath is recognized in the account of the gathering of the manna; a double portion was gathered on the previous day, and the extra supply gathered for consumption on the Sabbath, when no manna descended, did not spoil (xvi. 22-30). The Sabbath is a sign between Yhwh and Israel, an everlasting covenant (xxi. 13). Death or excision (xxxi. 14, 15) was the penalty for its profanation by work. An instance of this is afforded by the case of the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath and was condemned to die by lapidation (Num. xv. 32-36). Work is prohibited, even during harvest-time (Ex. xxxiv. 21), and is declared to be a profanation of the holy Sabbath; and the kindling of fire in the habitations is especially interdicted (Ex. xxxv. 3).
In the Decalogue as contained in Deuteronomy (v., 12 et seq.) the observance of the Sabbath is again enjoined, but as a day of rest for the servants as well as their masters, in commemoration of Israel’s redemption from Egyptian bondage. The Sabbath heads the enumeration of the appointed holy seasons (Lev. xxiii. 3). The Showbread was changed every Sabbath (Lev. xxiv. 8). The sacrifice ordained for the Sabbath consisted of two he-lambs of the first year, without blemish, and of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil, and “the drink-offering thereof”; these constituted the burnt offering, and were brought in addition to the continual burnt offering (Num. xxviii. 9, 10). The Sabbath is designated also as “Shabbat Shabbaton,” as is the Day of Atonement (Lev. xvi. 31), often with the added qualification of “holy unto Yhwh” (Ex. xvi. 23, xxxi. 1, xxxv. 2); and it is set apart for a holy convocation (Lev. xxiii. 3).
From II Kings xi. 5 it appears that the royal body-guard was changed every Sabbath. The Sabbath and the day of the New Moon were the favorite occasions for consulting the Prophets (II Kings iv. 23).Non-Observance by Some in Prophetic Times.
That the Sabbath was either improperly observed or sometimes, perhaps, altogether ignored in the time of the Prophets seems to be evidenced by their writings. Amos castigates those that are impatient for the passing of the Sabbath because it interferes with their usurious business (viii. 5). Isaiah is equally emphatic in condemning his contemporaries for their unworthy celebrations (i. 9). Jeremiah exhorts his people to refrain from carrying burdens on the Sabbath (xvii. 21 et seq.). Ezekiel describes the laxness of the fathers, for the purpose of impressing upon his auditors the importance of observing the Sabbath, evidently neglected in his day (xx. 12, 16, 20, 21, 24; xxii. 8; xxiii. 38). In his scheme of reconstruction the hallowing of the Sabbath holds a prominent place (xliv. 24, xlvi. 2, 3). According to him the burnt offering for the Sabbath, provided by the prince (xlv. 17), consisted of six lambs and a ram, with an entire ephah of meal-offering and a “hin” of oil to every ephah (xlvi. 4-5).
Isaiah conditions Israel’s triumph on the observance of the Sabbath, which may not be set aside for secular pursuits; its observance should be a delight (lviii. 13, 14). In his vision of Jerusalem’s exaltation the prophet predicts that from one Sabbath to another all flesh will come to worship before Yhwh (lxvi. 23). The colonists under Nehemiah charged themselves yearly with a third of a shekel to provide, among other things, for the burnt offerings of the Sabbaths (Neh. x. 32). Nevertheless Nehemiah tookthem to task for profaning the day (xiii. 16, 17), and to prevent them from continuing to turn it into a market-day he ordered the gates to be closed and kept closed until the end of the Sabbath. This measure, after a while, had the desired effect (x. 19 et seq.). Ps. xcii. is entitled “A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath Day.” As Hosea (i. 11) threatens the cessation of the Sabbath and other feasts as a punishment to disloyal Israel, so does the author of Lamentations (ii. 6) lament that the Sabbath has come to be forgotten in Zion.—In Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha:
Under the stress of the Syrian persecution, faithful compliance with the strictest interpretation of the Sabbath commandment came to be regarded as a sign of loyalty to God, especially since previously the Sabbath had been habitually desecrated (I Macc. i. 30). Many of the refugees in the mountains, thousands in number, preferred to die rather than violate the Sabbath by hurling stones upon their assailants (I Macc. ii. 29 et seq.). This made it necessary for Mattathias to issue an imperative order that the Jews, if attacked, should defend themselves (I Macc. ii. 41). Nevertheless, II Macc. xv. 1 et seq. relates that Nicanor planned the destruction of the Jews by attacking them on the Sabbath-day, when he had reason to believe they would not attempt to resist. Though the Jews implored him to honor the “day which had been dignified with holiness by the Heavenly Ruler,” he persisted, declaring that he was ruler on earth. His expedition, however, failed. A previous raid against Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day, under Appolonius, had proved successful (II Macc. v. 25, 26).
The Book of Jubilees calls the Sabbath the great sign that work should be done during six days and dropped on the seventh (ii. 17). The chief orders of angels also were bidden to observe the Sabbath with the Lord (ii. 18). In selecting Israel as His chosen people, Yhwh purposed to make them a Sabbath-observing people. Eating, drinking, and blessing God are distinguishing features of the Sabbath, besides cessation of work (ii. 21). The Sabbath was given to Jacob and his seed that they might forever remain “the blessed and holy ones of the first testimony and law,” as is the seventh day. Labor thereon entails death, but its defilement leads to violent death (ii. 25, 27). Among the acts prohibited are included preparing food, drawing water, and carrying burdens, however small, out of or into the house, or from one house to another. The Sabbath was hallowed in heaven before it was ordained for earth. Israel alone has the right to observe it (ii. 28-31). Again, in ch. iv., buying and selling, making verbal agreements for future fulfilment, and journeying are mentioned as among the acts prohibited, as well as drawing water, carrying burdens, and marital indulgences. Only work that is necessary for the sacrificial Temple service is permitted. Death shall be the penalty for any one who works, walks any distance, tills his land, kindles a fire, loads a beast of burden, travels on a ship, beats or kills any one, slaughters bird or beast, captures in the chase any living creature, or even fasts or wages war, on the Sabbath.
The archangel Michael instructs Seth (Vita Adæ et Evæ, 43) not to mourn on the seventh day (Kautzsch, “Apokryphen,” ii. 528).In Josephus and the Classical Writers.—In Post-Biblical Literature:
Josephus, in the main, follows the Biblical narrative, giving the word “Sabbath” the meaning “rest” (“Ant.” i. 1, § 1), and controverting the stupid etymology of the name upheld by Apion, according to whom the Jews were forced to observe the Sabbath by the fact of their being afflicted with bubonic boils known in Egyptian by a word similar to the Hebrew word “sabbath” (“Contra Ap.” ii., § 2). Moreover, his descriptions of Sabbath celebration do not differ from the Biblical. That the beginning and end of the Sabbath were announced by trumpet-blasts (“B. J.” iv. 9, § 12) is shown by the Mishnah (Suk. v. 5).
Josephus makes much of the spread of Sabbath observance in non-Palestinian cities and among non-Jews (“Contra Ap.” ii., § 39; comp. Philo, “De Vita Moysis,” ii. 137 [ed. Mangey]). That he does not exaggerate is apparent from the comments of Roman writers on the Jewish Sabbath. Horace, in his “Satires” (i. 9, 69), speaks of “tricesima Sabbata,” which certainly does not refer to a Sabbath so numbered by the Jews. Juvenal (“Satires,” xiv. 96-106), Persius (v. 179-184), Martial (iv. 4, 7), and Seneca (Augustine, “De Civitate Dei,” vi. 11) also refer to the Sabbath. In the Maccabean struggle the observance of the Sabbath came to have special significance as distinguishing the faithful from the half-hearted; but Josephus confirms I Macc. ii. 39-41, where the faithful, under Mattathias, decided to resist if attacked on the Sabbath, and not to permit themselves to be destroyed for the sake of literal obedience to the Sabbath law (comp. “Ant.” xii. 6, § 2). He mentions instances in which the Jews were taken advantage of on the Sabbath-day—for example, by Ptolemy Lagi (“Ant.” xii. 1; xviii. 9, § 2). Still, according to Josephus, the Jews carried on offensive warfare on the Sabbath (“B. J.” ii. 19, § 2). Titus was outwitted by the plea that it was unlawful for Jews to treat of peace on the seventh day (ib. iv. 2, § 3). Josephus also publishes decrees exempting Jews from military service on the Sabbath, which exemption gave rise to persecutions under Tiberius (“Ant.” xiv. 10, § 12 et seq.). The Essenes are referred to as very rigorous observers of the Sabbath (“B. J.” ii. 8, § 9).In Philo.
In Philo an element of mysticism dominates the interpretation of the Sabbath: the day was really intended for God, a part of whose divine happiness it is to enjoy perfect rest and peace. “Hence the Sabbath, which means ‘rest,’ is repeatedly said by Moses to be the Sabbath of God, not of men, for the one entity that rests is God.” Divine rest, however, does not mean inactivity, but unlabored energy (“De Cherubim,” § 26 [i. 154-155]). “Seven” being “the image of God,” the seventh day is a pattern of the duty of philosophizing (“De Decalogo,” § 20 [ii. 197]). The purpose of man’s life being “to follow God” (“De Migratione Abrahami,” § 23 [i. 456]), the commandment was given for man to observe the seventh day, ceasing from work, and devoting it to philosophy, contemplation, and the improvement ofcharacter (“De Decalogo,” § 20 [ii. 197]). The Sabbath is the most appropriate day for instruction (“De Septenario,” § 6 [ii. 282]).
Aristobulus, a predecessor of Philo, wrote a treatise on the Sabbath, fragments of which are extant. Following the Pythagoreans, he enlarges on the marvelous potency of the number “seven,” but endeavors, like Philo after him (“De Septenario,” §§ 6-7 [ii. 281-284]), to prove the observance of the day to be both reasonable and profitable (Eusebius, “Præparatio Evangelica,” xiii. 12, §§ 9-16). He asserts that even Homer and Hesiod observed the Sabbath, citing lines from them and from Linus. According to his understanding, the Sabbath was primarily to be used for searching, the Scriptures, fostering the soul’s powers, and striving after the knowledge of truth. The Sabbath might be called the first creation of the (higher) light, in which all is revealed (comp. the benedictions preceding the Shema’; Herzfeld, “Gesch. des Volkes Jisrael,” p. 478, Nordhausen, 1867).In the Talmud.
These Alexandrian speculations partake of the nature of haggadic homilies. In those of the Tannaim and Amoraim similar strains are heard. The Sabbath overshadowed every other day (Pesiḳ. R. 23), while Shammai began even on the first day of the week to make provision for the proper observance of the seventh day. It was Hillel who recalled the dignity of other days (Beẓah 16a). The Sabbath is considered to be equivalent to the Abrahamitic covenant (Mek. 62b; Pesiḳ. R. 23; Agadat Bereshit, xvii.). Its observance forestalls the threefold judgment—the Messianic sufferings, the wars of Gog and Magog, and the final day of retribution (Mek. 50b, 51a; comp. Shab. 118a). The privilege of celebrating the three great pilgrim festivals is the reward for faithful Sabbath observance (Mek. l.c.). The Sabbath is likened to wholesome spices (Shab. 119a; Gen. R. xi.; Jellinek, “B. H.” i. 75). Whosoever keeps the Sabbath holy is protected against temptation to sin (Mek. 50b).
Most characteristic is the dialogue between Rufus and Akiba concerning the two signs of the Covenant—circumcision and the Sabbath (Sanh. 65b; Gen. R. xi.; Pesiḳ. R. 23; Tan., Ki Tissa; Jellinek, “B. H.” i. 75). The will of God is alleged to be the sole reason for the day’s distinction. As proof that the seventh day is the Sabbath the inability of the necromancer to call a spirit from the River Sambation, and the fact that the grave of Rufus’ father sends forth smoke during the six week-days, but ceases to do so on the Sabbath, are adduced. Akiba meets the objection that God violates His own law by sending wind and rain on the Sabbath with the statement that the universe is God’s private domain, within which the proprietor is at liberty even on the Sabbath. Moreover, God proved Himself to be a Sabbath observer by interrupting the fall of manna on that day. To observe the Sabbath is regarded as equivalent to having originally instituted it (Mek. 104a, b).
The Sabbath expresses the intimacy between God and Israel; from the days of Creation this relation has existed. Each week-day is associated with another, the first with the second, and so on; but the Sabbath stands alone. In answer to its complaint at being thus neglected, God explained that Israel is its peculiar associate (Beẓah 16a; Gen. R. xi.). Man’s face takes on a new luster on the Sabbath. The two great heavenly lights, the sun and the moon, did not begin to lose their original brilliancy until after the first Sabbath (Mek. 69b; Gen. R. xi., xii.). If all Israel were to observe two successive Sabbaths as they should be observed, redemption would ensue at once (Shab. 118b; comp. Yer. Ta’an. 64a); if even one Sabbath were rightly kept the Messiah would appear (Shab. 118b). Simeon ben Yoḥai regarded too much talking as inconsistent with the proper celebration of the day (Yer. Shab. 15b); R. Ze’era reproved his pupils for committing this fault (Shab. 119a, b). Those that observe the Sabbath are ranked with those that give tithes and honor the Law; their rewards are identical (Shab. 119a; Gen. R. xi.; Pesiḳ. R. 23). Two angels, one good, the other evil, accompany every Jew on Sabbath eve from the synagogue to the house. If the Sabbath lamp is found lighted and the table spread, the good angel prays that this may be the case also on the following Sabbath, and the evil angel is compelled to say “Amen” to this; but if no preparations for the Sabbath are seen, the evil angel pronounces a curse, and the good angel is compelled to say “Amen” (Shab. 119b).Haggadic References.
The law of the Sabbath is equal to all the other laws and commandments in the Torah (Yer. Ber. 3c; Yer. Ned. 38b; Ex. R. xxv.). The ẓiẓit is intended to be a constant reminder of the Sabbath (Yer. Ber. 3c). “Queen” and “bride” are two typical appellations for the day (Shab. 119a; B. Ḳ. 32a, b; Gen. R. x.); it is the signet on the ring (ib.). A special soul (“neshamah yeterah”) is given to man on the eve of the Sabbath, and leaves him again at its close (Beẓah 16a; Ta’an. 27b). Simeon ben Laḳish explains the repetition of the Sabbath commandment by relating a parable of a father who sent his son to a merchant with a bottle and some money. The son broke the bottle and lost the money, whereupon the father admonished him to be more careful and gave him another bottle and some more money. Hence comes the use of the word in Deuteronomy (“be careful”; Pesiḳ. R. 23). According to R. Simlai, the “remember” in Ex. xx. 8 indicates the duty of thinking of the Sabbath before, the “observe” in Deut. v. 12 that of keeping it holy after, its advent (Pesiḳ. R. 23). The Sabbath is a precious pearl (Midr. Teh. to Ps. xcii., ed. Buber, p. 201a). The one day which belongs to God is, according to Ps. cxxxix. 16, the Sabbath; according to some it is the Day of Atonement (Pesiḳ. R. 23; Tan., Bemidbar, 20). The superior character of the seventh day is marked by the circumstance that everything connected with it is twofold: e.g., the double portions of manna (Ex. xvi. 22); the two lambs (Num. xxviii. 9); the double menace in Ex. xxxi. 14; the repetition of the Sabbath commandment (Ex. xx. 8 and Deut. v. 12); the double title of Ps. xcii.—”mizmor” and “shir” (Midr. Teh. to Ps. xcii., ed. Buber, p. 201b).
The Sabbath is a foretaste of the world to come (Gen. R. xvii., xliv.; Ber. 57b [“one-sixtieth of the world to come”]). The example of the Creator iscited to teach that all work, however important, should cease as soon as the Sabbath approaches; for God was about to create bodies for the demons whose souls He had fashioned when the Sabbath came and prevented the execution of the intention (Gen. R. vii.). The Patriarchs are said to have kept the Sabbath even before the revelation on Sinai (Gen. R. lxxix.; Tan., Naso, 33 [ed. Buber, p. 22a, b]).Dress.
According to the testimony of the Haggadab, the Sabbath was looked upon and observed as a day of joy. Samuel ben Naḥman declared that the Sabbath was intended to be a day of good cheer (Yer. Shab. 15a; Ḥiyya b. Abba in Pes. R. xxiii.). Fasting was forbidden upon it (Ber. 31b), even up to noon (Yer. Ta’an. 67a; Yer. Ned. 40d). Expenses incurred for a proper, joyful Sabbath celebration do not impoverish (Gen. R. xi.); on the contrary, riches are the reward of those that enjoy the Sabbath (Shab. 118a). Hence the special blessing for the Sabbath in Gen. ii. 3, to vouchsafe impunity to the weak for excesses in eating and drinking committed in honor of that day (Bacher, “Ag. Pal. Amor.” i. 111). Three meals were considered indispensable (Shab. 118b). Of Ḥanina and Hoshaiah, disciples of R. Johanan, it is reported that they occupied themselves on Friday with the story of creation, which miraculously enabled them to procure a fattened calf for their Sabbath meal (Sanh. 65b, 67b) when they were too poor to prepare properly for the day. Nothing should be eaten on Friday later than the first hour after noon, in order that the Sabbath meal may be better enjoyed (Pes. 99b; Tos. Ber. v. 1; Yer. Pes. 87b). Change of garments was also deemed essential to a proper observance; white Sabbath garments are mentioned in Shab. 25b. Every person should have at least two sets of garments, one for week-days and another for the Sabbath (Yer. Peah 21b); Ruth is referred to as an example (Ruth R. iii. 3; Pes. R. xxxiii.; Shab. 113b). The Jews of Tiberias, who plead their poverty as a reason for not being able to celebrate the day, are advised to make some change in their dress (ib.). To this refers also the proverb, “Rather turn thy Sabbath into a profane day [in dress], than be dependent on the assistance of others” (Pes. 112a). The myrtle was used for purposes of decoration on the Sabbath (Shab. 33b). It was noticed with displeasure that Aḥa ben Ḥanina wore mended sandals on the Sabbath (Shab. 114a). The Sabbath was given to instructive sermons and discourses (Yer. Soṭah 16d; Num. R. ix.; Deut. R. v.). To run to the bet ha-midrash on the Sabbath to hear a discourse does not constitute desecration (Ber. 6b). Rain on Friday is not welcome, as it interferes with Sabbath preparations, while sunshine on the Sabbath is a divine boon to the poor (Ta’an. 8b).
The Haggadah clearly shows that the Sabbath-day was celebrated in a spirit of fervent joyfulness, which was by no means intended to be repressed, and which was not chilled or checked by the halakic construction of the Sabbath commandments. The Sabbath, indeed, was deserving of the designation of “mattanah ṭobah” (a precious gift from on high; Shab. 10b).Probable Lunar Origin.—Critical View:
The origin of the Sabbath, as well as the true meaning of the name, is uncertain. The earliest Biblical passages which mention it (Ex. xx. 10, xxxiv. 21; Deut. v. 14; Amos viii. 5) presuppose its previous existence, and analysis of all the references to it in the canon makes it plain that its observance was neither general nor altogether spontaneous in either pre-exilic or post-exilic Israel. It was probably originally connected in some manner with the cult of the moon, as indeed is suggested by the frequent mention of Sabbath and New-Moon festivals in the same sentence (Isa. i. 13; Amos viii. 5; H Kings iv. 23). The old Semites worshiped the moon and the stars (Hommel, “Der Gestirndienst der Alten Araber”). Nomads and shepherds, they regarded the night as benevolent, the day with its withering heat as malevolent. In this way the moon (“Sinai” = “moon [“sin”] mountain”) became central in their pantheon. The moon, however, has four phases in approximately 28 days, and it seemingly comes to a standstill every seven days. Days on which the deity rested were considered taboo, or ill-omened. New work could not be begun, nor unfinished work continued, on such days. The original meaning of “Shabbat” conveys this idea (the derivation from “sheba'” is entirely untenable). If, as was done by Prof. Sayce (in his Hibbert Lectures) and by Jastrow (in “American Journal of Theology,” April, 1898), it can be identified in the form “shabbaton” with the “Shabattum” of the Assyrian list of foreign words, which is defined as “um nuḥ libbi” = “day of propitiation” (Jensen, in “Sabbath-School Times,” 1892), it is a synonym for “‘Aẓeret” and means a day on which one’s actions are restricted, because the deity has to be propitiated. If, with Toy (in “Jour. Bib. Lit.” xviii. 194), it is assumed that the signification is “rest,” or “season of rest” (from the verb “to rest,” “to cease [from labor]”; though “divider” and “division of time” are likewise said to have been the original significations; comp. also Barth, “Nominalbildungen,” and Lagarde, “Nominalbildung”), the day is so designated because, being taboo, it demands abstinence from work and other occupations. The Sabbath depending, in Israel’s nomadic period, upon the observation of the phases of the moon, it could not, according to this view, be a fixed day. When the Israelites settled in the land and became farmers, their new life would have made it desirable that the Sabbath should come at regular intervals, and the desired change would have been made all the more easily as they had abandoned the lunar religion.Assyrian Analogues.
Dissociated from the moon, the Sabbath developed into a day of rest for the workers and animals on the farm (Deut. v. 14; Ex. xx. 10). Traces of the old taboo are, however, still found. In Amos viii. 5 it is the fear of evil consequences that keeps the impatient merchants from plying their wicked trade. The multitude of sacrifices (Isa. i. 8; Hosea ii. 11) on Sabbath and New Moon indicates the anxiety on those particular days to propitiate the deity. Closer contact with Assyro-Babylonians from the eighth to the sixth pre-Christian century probably revitalized the older idea of taboo. The assumptionthat the Hebrews borrowed the institution from the Babylonians, which was first suggested by Lotz (“Quæstiones de Historia Sabbati”), is untenable; but that the Exile strengthened the awe in which the day was held can not be denied. It having become a purely social institution, a day of rest for the farmers, the taboo element in course of time had lost its emphasis. The Assyro-Babylonians may have had similar days of abstinence or propitiation (the 7th, 14th, 19th, 21st, and 28th of the month Elul), and contact with them may have served to lend the Jewish Sabbath a more austere character. The Assyrian calendar seems to disclose an effort to get rid of the movable Sabbath in favor of the fixed. If after the twenty-eighth day two days are intercalated as new-moon days, the 19th day becomes the 49th from the beginning of the next preceding month, as in the Feast of Weeks, in connection with which the emphasis on “complete Sabbaths” (“sheba’ Shabbot temimot”; Lev. xxiii. 15) is noteworthy. At all events, in the Priestly Code, Sabbath violation is represented as entailing death (Num. xv. 32-36). The prohibition against kindling fire (Ex. xxxv. 3) probably refers to producing fire by the fire-drill or by rubbing two sticks together; this was the crime of the man put to death according to Num. xv. 32-36, the “meḳoshesh” (see also Beẓah iv. 7), the presence of fire being considered, if the analogy with superstitious practises elsewhere is decisive, a very grave sign of disrespect to the deity.
Candlestick Used in Blessing the Sabbath Light.(From a drawing by Viefers.)
But Hebrew institutions are often in direct antagonism to similar ones among the Assyro-Babylonians. The seventh days in the Babylonian scheme were days of ill omen. The prophets of the Exile laid especial emphasis on the fact that the Sabbath is a day of joy, as did those of the Assyrian period on the futility of the propitiating sacrifices (Isa. i.). The Priestly Code could not neutralize this view. Its rigorous observance found acceptance only among the “Nibdalim” (the Separatists; see Neh. x. 31). Every festival in the Biblical scheme is associated with a historical event. The connection of the Sabbath with the Exodus, in Deut. v. 14-15, was altogether vague; and to supply a more definite relation to an event in Israel’s history the Sabbath was declared to have had an important significance in the desert when manna fell (Ex. xvi. 27 et seq.). The Decalogue of Exodus supplies a theological reason for the observance of the day; its phraseology reflects that of Gen. ii. 1 et seq. Both—this explanation and the story in Genesis—are among the latest additions to the Pentateuch.Bibliography:
- In addition to the abundant literature mentioned in the bibliographies of the Bible dictionaries see Friedrich Bohn, Der Sabbat im Alten Testament, Gütersloh, 1893 (the latest contribution; it abounds in parallels for the taboo).
Evolution of Conception of Sabbath Rest.—Historical and Legal:
A comparison between rabbinicial Sabbath legislation and the data of the Bible, Apocrypha, and Pseudepigrapha must establish the fact that the Talmudical conception of what is implied by Sabbath “rest,” with the practical determination of what may and what may not be done on that day, is the issue of a long process of development. Even the commandment (“remember”) in Exodus presupposes the previous existence of the institution; indeed, tradition assumes that the Sabbath law had been proclaimed at Marah, before the Sinaitic revelation (Rashi on Ex. xv.; Maimonides, “Moreh,” iii. 32; Sanh. 56b). The restoration of Sabbath observance in Ezra and Nehemiah’s time in no sense transcended the Pentateuchal ordinances. By “no manner of labor” (Ex. xx. 10, Hebr.), as the context shows, were indicated domestic and agricultural occupations (comp. B. Ḳ. v. 7). The special mention of plowing and harvesting, and probably the direct prohibition of kindling fire, the explicit mention of which the Rabbis attempt to explain away (Shab. 70a), suggest that, in the main, field- and household-work were covered by the Biblical idea of labor (Ex. xxxiv. 21, xxxv. 3). Carrying of loads “in and out” can not be held to be an exception (Jer. xvii. 21-22). Probably Jeremiah’s censure had reference to carrying to market the yield of field and farm, or the articles manufactured at home (comp. Amos viii. 5). It is just this that Nehemiah deplores (Neh. xiii. 15).
The Maccabean rebellion marks the beginning of an altogether different conception of the term “labor.” The rigorists regarded self-defense, even against a mortal attack, as included in the prohibition (Josephus, “Ant.” xii. 6, §§ 2-3). The stricter construction, then, must have been devised among the Ḥasidim, Mattathias representing the broader view. That for a long time the question of what was permitted in this direction on the Sabbath remained open is shown by a comparison of I Macc. ix. 34, 43; II Macc. viii. 26; Josephus, “Ant.” xii. 6, § 2;xiii. 1, § 3; 8, § 4; xiv. 10, § 12; xviii. 9, § 2; idem, “B. J.” ii. 21, § 8; iv. 2, § 3; idem, “Contra Ap.” i. § 22; Ta’an. 28b, 29a; ‘Ar. 11b. Rabbinical law is still busy debating in Shab. vi. 2, 4 whether weapons may be carried on the Sabbath, and what are weapons and what ornaments. Some latitude is allowed soldiers in camp (‘Er. i. 10; Dem. iii. 11), and such as had gone forth carrying arms on the Sabbath to wage war were permitted to retain their weapons even when returning on the Sabbath (Yer. Shab. i. 8; ‘Er. iv. 3; 15a; Maimonides, “Yad,” Melakim, vi. 11, 13).Military Exceptions.
Freedom to move about is indispensable to military operations; but the interdict against marching, walking, or riding established by the rabbinical law rendered military ventures impossible on the Sabbath. In the time of Josephus this interdict was known. He reports that Jewish soldiers do not march on the Sabbath, their non-Jewish commanders respecting their religious scruples (“Ant.” xiv. 10, § 12; xviii. 3, § 5). The “Sabbath way” (see ‘Erub), limited to 2,000 ells, is fully recognized in the New Testament (comp. Acts i. 12). The institution of this Sabbath way, or walk, clearly shows a purpose to extend the established limits. There were several calculations by which the limit of distance was arrived at. In the injunction concerning the gathering of manna (Ex. xvi. 29) the phraseology used is, “Let no man go out of his place.” But this noun “place” is used also in the law concerning the cities of refuge (Ex. xxi. 13). In Num. xxxv. 26 the “limit” or border of the city is named, while verses 4 and 5 of the same chapter give 2,000 ells as its extent (‘Er. 48a). Josh. iii. 4 also is considered, 2,000 ells being the interval that must be maintained between the ark and the people. Whether this distance should be measured in a straight line in one direction; or whether it should be taken from the center of a circle, was open to argument. If the latter, freedom to move within a circle 4,000 ells in diameter would result. This would certainly answer the ordinary needs of the Sabbath walker (‘Er. iv. 3, 5, 8; R. H. ii. 5). By another calculation, in which the area of limitation is a square, with each side of 4,000 ells, even greater latitude is arrived at; movement along the border-lines as well as along the diagonal would be free (‘Er. iv. 8; see Baneth, “Einleitung zum Traktat Erubin”).Restricted Freedom of Movement.
In reference to other Sabbath distances, the traditional four ells, so often found in specifications of proportions and quantities, are given as the limit (Yoma i. 2; Suk. i. 10; Ber. iii. 5; B. B. ii. 4, 5, 12). Within the distance of four ells throwing was allowed (Shab. xi. 3, 4). Only so much water might be poured out on the Sabbath as four ells square of ground would absorb (‘Er. viii. 9, 10; for other instances see ‘Er. i. 2; iv. 1, 5; x. 4, 5). How these four ells should be measured is also a matter of serious inquiry (‘Er. iv. 5, 6). Thus the Mishnah preserves the evidence of a constantly active desire to relax the rigor of probably Ḥasidean constructions. For this purpose the legal fiction of the ‘erub was resorted to, creating constructively a new residence. Perhaps, originally, huts were built (for instance, the huts, 2,000 paces apart, for those that accompanied the scapegoat on Yom Kippur; Yoma vi. 4; Bohn, “Der Sabbat im Alten Testamente,” p. 72, Güterslohe, 1903). Against this ‘erub the Sadducees (literalists) are reported to have protested (‘Er. vi. 1, 2). It is well known that the Samaritans withdrew freedom of movement almost entirely, as did the Essenes (“B. J.” ii. 8, § 9). The gloss to R. H. ii. 5 is indicative of the existence of similarly rigorous views among others. At first, in the case of an observation of the new moon on Sabbath, the witnesses were not permitted to move about; but later R. Gamaliel allowed them the freedom of 2,000 ells in every direction. Such laws as the one that he who has exceeded the “teḥum” (Sabbath distance) even by one ell may not reenter point to the same conclusion (‘Er. iv. 11). Traveling on a ship was not prohibited, though even in this case the disposition at one time was to require the traveler to remain on the ship three days previous to sailing if the day of departure was the Sabbath, circumstances, of course, necessitating certain exceptions (Shab. 19a; “Sefer ha-Terumah,” quoted in “Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ,” ed. Buber, p. 41). A fictitious “shebitah” (acquisition of domicil) helped to remove the rigoristic construction. During the voyage itself it sufficed, even for the stricter interpreters, if the passenger informed the captain of his desire that the ship should lay to on the Sabbath. No responsibility rested upon him if his desire were disregarded. On Sabbath, during the voyage, the Jew might walk the whole length of the ship even if her dimensions exceeded the measure of the Sabbath way (ib.). Still, R. Joshua and R. Akiba are remembered as having refrained, while on a voyage, from walking farther than four ells on shipboard on the Sabbath (‘Er. iv. 1).
The fact that artificial “gezerot” (apprehensions lest a forbidden act be done) are adduced to explain the so-called “shebutim” (Beẓah v. 2), i.e., acts that ought to be omitted on Sabbath (for instance, climbing a tree or riding on an animal), discloses a purpose to relax the law. It is most probable that at one time the acts classified under this name were not proscribed. Only later practise prohibited them, and when a less strict spirit began again to assert itself, it was found that there was not sufficient warrant for the enforcement of the prohibition.Restrictions on Riding.
In the case of riding on the Sabbath this evolutionary process is plain. The prohibition appears to have been first promulgated during the Hasmonean period. But riding, especially on asses, was the usual mode of locomotion, and the injunction seems not to have been readily heeded. An instance exists of a court that, desiring to make an example, put an offender to death (Yeb. 90b; Sanh. 46a; Yer. Ḥag. ii. 1). Yet Elisha ben Abuyah is reported to have ridden on horseback within the limits of the Sabbath distance, R. Meïr following to hear him discourse on the Torah until the hoofs of the horse reminded him that he ought to turn back, as he had ridden the full length of the distance permitted (Ḥag. 15a). While the names of riders mentioned in the Talmud are mostly those of apostates, yet the Talmud affords no justificationfor the prohibition (see Löw, “Gesammelte Schriften,” iv. 305 et seq.). The Talmud assumes that every living creature carries itself (Shab. 94a); hence the horse or ass does not carry a burden when ridden by a man; and in order to find some basis for the injunction, rabbinical writers allege the apprehension that the rider might cut a switch on the way with which to whip the horse, and thereby become a violator of the Sabbath (Shab. 153b; Maimonides, “Yad,” Shabbat, xviii. 16-17; Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 305). It was a rule not to sell or hire animals to non-Jews lest they be deprived of their Sabbath rest. The horse alone was excepted, since it would be used only for riding, which was not in Talmudic law a violation of the Sabbath (‘Ab. Zarah i. 6; 15a; Pes. iv. 3).Against Kindling Fire.
The prohibition against kindling a fire was rigorously and literally observed by the Samaritans (Leopold Wreschner, “Samaritanische Traditionen,” p. 15; De Sacy, “Notices et Extraits,” xii. 163, 176). The Sadducees, as were later the Karaites, were similarly convinced that light and fire should not be found on Sabbath in the habitations of the faithful (Geiger, “Nachgelassene Schriften,” vol. iii.). The purpose of rabbinico-Pharisaic casuistry is to combat this ascetic literalism. Hence its insistence on the lighting of the lamps and its micrologic devices for keeping food warm; it accommodated itself to the rigorism of the literalists only so far as to avoid the creation of an open, flaming fire (Shab. ii., iv.). Marital indulgence on the Sabbath was regarded as a profanation by the Samaritans (De Sacy, l.c.). This opinion prevailed also in the earlier rigoristic period of Sabbath legislation. Weddings were not permitted on the Sabbath (Beẓah v. 2). Later casuistry endeavored to find a reason for this prohibition, but the multitude of the explanations advanced—fear of mixing joys; apprehensions that preparation for the wedding-feast might lead to infraction of Sabbath laws; etc.—shows the embarrassment of the later teachers (Ket. i. 1). Except in the case of weddings, which were forbidden, later practise was opposed to that of the Samaritans (Ned. ii. 10, viii. 6).
The Puritan character of the rabbinical Sabbath is shown in the aversion, deducible from some laws, to loud noises (instance Simeon ben Yoḥai’s reproof of his mother for loud talking), clapping of hands, striking with a hammer, trumpet-calls, and music (Löw, l.c. ii. 355). While to some of the more ascetic rabbis any loud demonstration of joy undoubtedly approached irreverence and impiety, it may be noted that the minor reasons adduced in regard to music (e.g., lest musicians might be tempted to make or repair instruments, or the estimate of music as “labor,” not “art” ) indicate that ascetic tendencies had but little to do with the prohibition of it. In the later post-Talmudical days non-Jewish musicians were employed on the Sabbath.
Sabbath Eve Ceremonies in a German Jewish Home of the Eighteenth Century.(From Kirchner, “Jüdisches Ceremonial,” 1726.)Employment of the “Goy.”
But the employment of non-Jews to do what it was not lawful for the Jew to do on the Sabbath presented difficulties. If they were servants they might not work (Ex. xx.). By a legal fiction, however, the presumption was established that in reality the non-Jew worked for himself (see “Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ,” pp. 84 et seq.; “Yad,” l.c. vi.). Among the thirty-nine classes of forbidden acts are also swimming, jumping, dancing, holding court (but comp. Sanh. 88b), performing the ceremony of ḥaliẓah, setting aside as holy, vowing to pay the value of things so set aside, putting under the ban (a beast as devoted to the Temple), andcollecting the priest’s portion or the tithes (Beẓah v. 2).
The Book of Jubilees reflects the earlier, more rigid conception of the Sabbath. The acts enumerated therein as forbidden are almost identical with those found in the Mishnah. Its temper is evidenced by the fact that it makes death the penalty for violations. Later, flagellation was substituted for the severer penalty.Principle of Halakah.
In the Halakah the observance of the Sabbath, like any other Pentateuchal ordinance or statute, is treated as a legal duty or debt laid upon the Israelite, and the manner and measure in which this duty must be discharged are legally fixed. Undoubtedly, in the case of the Sabbath as in that of other institutions, the Halakah legalized and systematized customs of long standing, endeavoring to connect them with Pentateuchal text and precedent. This systematization resulted in the accentuation of limitations. Under the general precept a number of specific prescriptions were evolved. Again, the principle of “a fence around the Law” led to the enactment of precautionary regulations. Still, rabbinical Sabbath legislation was by no means altogether restrictive. In many instances its effect was to broaden the scope of the Biblical law or its literal interpretation (see ‘Erub).
The subtleties which this legalism engendered are illustrated by the first mishnah in Shabbat, which analyzes the possibilities of Sabbath violation in connection with carrying from one territory into another, or in the passing of alms from the donor within the house to the donee outside it.
Another example is furnished by the following abstract of Maimonides’ first chapter of Shabbat. To rest from labor on the Sabbath (“shebitah”) is a mandatory commandment. Transgression thereof, however, violates both a positive and a negative precept, as the Pentateuch enjoins rest as well as prohibits work. The penalty for intentional violation by work is excision (“karet”); if there were witnesses to the act and the legal warning (“hatra’ah”) had been given, the penalty was stoning. Unintentional desecration entails the bringing of the prescribed sin-offering. The law analyzes and discriminates among the various kinds of acts: some acts are in themselves permissible, though they may involve possible, though not unavoidable, infractions of the Sabbath law. Unless a previous intention was manifest to perform an act in a way that would lead to incidental violation, this latter is not to be taken into account. If, however, the secondary violation is necessarily involved in the usually permissible act, even though no intention to violate the Sabbath may be imputed, the perpetrator is guilty.Motive Considered.
The existence of a good motive for doing a thing that is prohibited does not exonerate the doer thereof. For instance, extinguishing a light is forbidden; it is forbidden also to extinguish it for the purpose of economizing oil. The motive, however, is decisive in cases where one act was intended and another of different scope is accidentally performed. Where two men perform one piece of work (e.g., carry a beam) in common, but each alone does less than would render him liable, and it is within the power of either to do it alone, both are exempt. But where the work exceeds the strength of each alone, and it is necessary to do it together, both are guilty. Work which destroys merely (“meḳalḳel”) does not entail a penalty; but destruction preliminary to building is forbidden.
Devices for Keeping Water and Food Warm on Sabbath.(From Bodenschatz, “Kirchliche Verfassung,” 1748.)Friday Preparation.
With a view to more thoroughly safeguarding the Sabbath against profanation an hour of the previous day (“`ereb Shabbat”) was added to it. This was called “adding from the profane to the holy” (Shulḥan ‘Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 261, 2). The Pentateuchal warrant for this was found in the use of the definite article in Gen. i. 31 (, “the sixth day”) or in Ex. xx. 10 (, “the seventh day”; see Gen. R. ix.; Pesiḳ. R. 23). Indeed, to a certain extent Friday was included in the Sabbath legislation. Everybody was expected to rise very early on that day in order to make the purchases necessary for a worthy celebration of the Sabbath (Shab. 117b; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 250); the greater the outlay the greater the merit (Yer. Sanh. viii. 2). Personal participation in various preparations for the meals was recommended; indeed, many among the most learned were remembered as having proudly shared in such preparations (Shab. 119a; Ḳid. 41a; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, l.c.). According to one ofthe ten ordinances of Ezra, Jewish women were advised to bake bread early on Friday to supply the poor (B. Ḳ. 82a).
The details of the toilet, such as the dressing of hair and paring of finger-nails, were attended to before the advent of the Sabbath (Shab. 25b, 31a; Sanh. 95a; Beẓah 27b; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 260). Workaday garments were exchanged for better Sabbath clothes (Shab. 119a; B. Ḳ. 32b; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 262). While it was still daylight the table was set (Shab. 119a; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, l.c.), and it became the custom to cover the table with a white cloth (Tos. Pes. 100b, s.v. “She’en”); this was held to be in memory of the manna, as was a certain favorite ‘ereb Shabbat pie consisting of two layers of dough between which the meat was placed (“mulai” is the name given by MaHaRIL; Hilkot “Shabbat”). Two loaves of bread, also in allusion to the manna, were to be on the table (Shab. 117a; Ber. 39b; see Ḳiddush). Near dusk the head of the family would inquire: “Have you set aside the tithe, made the `erub, and separated the ḥallah?” Upon receiving an affirmative answer, he would say: “Then light the lamp” (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 260).
According to the Mishnah (Shab. i. 3), a tailor should not venture out near dusk with his needle (stuck in his coat); nor a writer of books with his pen; one should not read near the lamp, though children might do so under the supervision of the master. In fact, work was declared unpropitious after “minḥah” (construed to be the “minḥah gedolah,” i.e., thirty minutes after noon; Pes. 51b; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 251). Yet this applied only to work for personal profit; such work as was styled “work of heaven,” i.e., work from a religious or some high, altruistic motive, was permitted. Long walks away from one’s home on Friday were discountenanced (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 249). Such work as could not be finished before the beginning of the Sabbath, but would “finish itself” during the Sabbath (as in the case of flax put into an oven to bleach), might be begun near dusk on ‘ereb Shabbat (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 252). So was it lawful to put food intended for the Sabbath where it would stay warm, though under certain conditions and precautions (Shab. 18b), 38a; Tos. ib., s. v. “Shakaḥ Ḳederah”; “Or Zarua’,” s.v. “‘Ereb Shabbat,” 9; “Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ,” p. 44 ; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 253, 254, 257-259).The Sabbath Lamp.
The lighting of the lamp was considered an obligation which had to be discharged before darkness set in (Shab. 25b, 31a; “Yad,” Shabbat, v. 1). This duty could be deputed to a non-Jew (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 261), but so essential was the Sabbath light considered to a joyful celebration that one was advised to beg for the oil if necessary (“Yad,” l.c.). A benediction was prescribed (Tos. Shab. 25b, s.v. “Ḥobah”; R. Tam, in “Sefer ha-Yashar,” § 622; “Yad,” l.c.; Ber. R. xi., lxv.; Pesiḳ. R. 21). Men and women alike were under this obligation, though its discharge generally fell upon the women (“Yad,” l.c. v. 3). Some rabbis demanded that at least two lamps should be lighted, one to express the “zakor” (remember) of Ex. xx., and the other the “shamor” (observe) of Deut. v. (Shab. 33b). The Sabbath meal might be eaten only where the lamp was burning (Shab. 25b; Tos. ib., s.v. “Hadlaḳah”). Explicit directions are given concerning the material for the wick, the kind of oil that was lawful, the manner of lighting the lamp, and how far one might profit from the light of the Sabbath lamp for reading and other purposes (Shab. ii. 1; “Yad,” l.c. v.). Later authorities question whether lighting the lamp marked the beginning of the Sabbath rest, or whether Sabbath did not set in until after the prayers had been recited and Ḳiddush performed (see “Tania Rabbati,” ed. Warsaw, p. 36a). In Palestine the approach of the Sabbath was announced by six trumpet-blasts, with an interval after each blast, to give workers a succession of warnings to cease from their labors (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 256; “Yad,” l.c. v. 18 et seq.).
One of the solicitudes of rabbinical law was to enforce the exceptional character of the Sabbath as a day of rejoicing and good cheer; hence on Friday no sumptuous repast was to be eaten, not even at a wedding, in order that all might anticipate the Sabbath meal with avidity. Some of the pious even went to the length of fasting during Friday in order to whet their appetite (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 249). For this reason, most of the people being hungry, the service in the synagogue on the eve of Sabbath was shortened; the reader, instead of reciting the tefillah, gave an epitome of it (Ber. 21a, 29a). According to Shab. ii. 1, the “Bameh Madliḳin” was read (see “Sefer ha-Manhig” and “Kol Bo”). Another reason for abbreviating the service was that evil spirits were said to roam about on this evening in greater numbers than on other evenings (comp. Rashi, “Sefer ha-Pardes”; Pes. 112b). See Ḳiddush.The Thirty-nine Prohibited Acts.
The Mishnah (Shab. vii. 2) enumerates thirty-nine principal classes of prohibited actions, these “abot” (lit. “fathers” or “chief categories”) comprehending, when developed casuistically, a large variety of “toledot” (lit. “offspring” or “derivatives”). The number mentioned has been recognized as conventional even by Talmudists, the list as given containing virtual duplications, while certain kinds of work are clearly omitted (Shab. 74a). The explanation is that whatever was done in the erection of the Tabernacle in the desert was classified as “principal,” even if this rendered certain duplications necessary (ib.). This number is derived from the phrase (“These are the words”) in Ex. xxxv. 1 (Yer. Shab. 9b; Shab. 70a; Num. R. xviii.; Tan., Ḳoraḥ), the numerical value of being 36; and as “debarim” is plural it must signify at least “two,” while the article prefixed indicates that it stands for “three” (36 + 3 = 39). The misreading in Tan., Ḳoraḥ, where (“beatings”) appears for (“labors”), discloses the true nature of the number. “Forty,” in Hebrew, denotes the extreme number or quantity in the connection in which it is used; for instance, “forty” lashes means the utmost number of lashes that may be inflicted in any given case. Hence, in order to remain within the limit, forty less one was fixed upon as the greatest number of lashes that might be inflicted upon the culprit. The mishnah in regard to the classes of prohibited actions follows the precedent, and borrows the phraseology(“forty, less one”) used in regard to flagellation. See Sabbath Laws.
Maimonides (“Yad,” Shabbat, vii.) has the same enumeration, though in different order and with verbal changes, and with the substitution of “ruling [the hide] with lines” for the “salting it” of the Mishnah. According to Driver (Hastings, “Dict. Bible,” iv. 320, note †), Margoliouth (in “Expositor,” Nov., 1900, pp. 336 et seq.) cites, from an unedited Persian manuscript of the eleventh century, a catalogue of thirty-eight forbidden acts containing many variants from the Mishnah. An examination of the thirty-nine discloses that they comprise only the agricultural and industrial occupations as known in the mishnaic period (Löw, “Graphische Requisiten,” ii. 28). But these thirty-nine principals expanded into 1,521 (= 39 × 39) derivatives (Yer. Shab. vii. 2); though even before R. Johanan b. Nappaḥa and R. Simeon ben Laḳish, after three and a half years’ study of the Sabbath laws, had made this discovery, a mishnah in Ḥagigah (i. 8) had characterized these amplifications as “mountains suspended by a hair.”Underlying Principle of Preparation.
A few examples may serve to illustrate the method and system of this expansion. The general principle being given that “knots shall not be tied or untied,” it was necessary to determine the kinds of knots that were proscribed. This led to the decclaration that a camel-driver’s or boatman’s knot was intended; or a knot that could not be untied with one hand. Knots might be tied by a woman on articles of dress, or in packing articles of food. A pail might be fastened with a band, but not with a rope. Micrological as all this seems at first glance, closer inspection discloses the sound underlying principle that work done on Sabbath to save labor on another day renders guilty. Permanent knots, says R. Judah, are prohibited (Maimonides, “Yad,” l.c. x., says “professional knots”; comp. Shab. 111a, 112b). This is apparent also from the provision that one may not, on the Sabbath, prepare the couch for the following evening (Shab. iii., xv.).
The things that might be saved from a conflagration constituted another solicitude of rabbinical Sabbath legislation. Sacred books, no matter in what language they might be written, might be saved, though on this point, and as to whether the books of Christians, as containing the name of God, were included, some controversies are reported (Shab. xvi. 1, 115a). Non-Jews were invited to help in such cases. Of course, it was not lawful to resort to the usual method of putting out the fire if no life were endangered (“Yad,” l.c. xii. 3); but indirect means might be resorted to, such as covering with a hide or making a barrier by piling up vessels (Shab. xvi. 5).
But the injunction against carrying received the greatest attention. Territories were classified under four heads (“reshuyot”; Shab. 6a): (1) “Reshut ha-yaḥid”: To this belonged an elevation ten spans in height and four by four or more in width; an excavation ten spans deep and four or more in width; a space enclosed by four walls ten spans high and four wide, no matter what its area, if intended for dwelling purposes; a city walled in and with gates shut at night; or covered passages with three enclosures, the fourth being a board; a house and courtyard used for dwelling purposes (“Yad,” l.c. xiv. 1). (2) “Karmalit”: A heap from three to ten spans in height and four by four in width; a corresponding excavation or depression; an area enclosed by four walls three to ten spans in height; a corner adjoining the “reshut ha-rabbim”(the public domain), with three walls on three sides and the public reshut on the fourth (e.g., a covered passage without board or beam on the fourth side). (3) The public domain: Deserts, towns, market-places, and roads at least fifteen cubits wide. (4) “Maḳom paṭur”: A free, open space, i.e., a place less than four by four spans in width and three or more spans in height; what is less than three in height is considered the earth, so that thorn-bushes in the public domain, if less than four by four in width, belong to this class (“Yad,” l.c.). For the effect of the ‘Erub see article.Sabbath Garb.
Another consideration involved in this injunction is as to what one may wear abroad on the Sabbath. Arms, certain kinds or sandals, signet-rings in the case of women, plain rings in that of the men (though women were cautioned against wearing these ornaments at all), and many more things in connection with the toilet, were under the ban (see “Yad,” l.c. xix.). Under certain conditions the head-dress might be considered as a form of building, and therefore prohibited on the Sabbath (Yer. Shab. 12c, where plaiting is regarded as building). Later literature on the toilet for the Sabbath is very extensive, and historically valuable as showing masculine and feminine customs of attire (“Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ,” pp. 38 et seq.). It may be noted that in decisions made in the Middle Ages it is assumed that the Jews had at that time no regular reshut ha-rabbim.
The cautions against wearing jewels and similar ornaments were not inspired by Puritanical moods or views. The Sabbath was always and essentially a day of rejoicing. Hence fasting was forbidden, even for half a day (Ta’an. iii. 7; Yer. Ta’an. 67a; Yer. Ned. 40d; Judith viii. 6). Mourning was interrupted by the Sabbath (M. K. v. 3).Suspensions of the Sabbath.
The technical term for suspensions of the Sabbath is “doḥin et ha-Shabbat” (push aside or set back the Sabbath). For a higher duty, that of observing the Sabbath was held in abeyance. A priest might violate the Sabbath in the discharge of his sacerdotal work at the altar, or while performing the sacrificial rite, or any other function, assigned to him. For “en Shabbat ba-miḳdash” the Sabbath law is not applicable to the service in the Temple (Pes. 65a). Acts necessary for the Passover are not affected by the prohibitions (Pes. vi. 1, 2). The blowing of the shofar is permitted (R. H. iv. 1). A Levite may tie a broken string on his instrument while performing in the Temple (‘Er. x. 13). Circumcision also takes precedence of the Sabbath, though whatever preparations for this rite can be completed previously should not be left for the Sabbath (Shab. xviii. 3, xix. 1-3). But wheneverthere was danger to life, or where a Jewish woman was in the throes of childbirth, the Sabbath law was set aside (Shab. xviii. 3). In the case of one dangerously sick, whatever was ordered by a competent physician might be done regardless of the Sabbath; but it had to be done by pious and prominent Jews, not by non-Jews (“Yad,” l.c. ii. 1-3). It was forbidden to delay in such a case, for it was intended that man should live by the Law, and not die through it (Yoma 85a, b; Sanh. 74a; ‘Ab. Zarah 27b, 54a; Mek., Ki Tissa). Water might be heated and the lamps lighted. In accidents, too, every help might be extended. Some restrictions were placed on the choice of fluids to relieve toothache or of ointments to relieve pain in the loins (Shab. xiv. 4). A sprained member might not have cold water poured over it, but it might be bathed in the usual way (Shab. xxii. 6).
It was permissible to take animals to water, provided they carried no load (“Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ,” p. 74, where it is explained that covers necessary for the comfort of the animal are not considered a load). Water might be drawn into a trough so that an animal might go and drink of its own accord (‘Er. 20b). If an animal has fallen into a well, it is provided with food until Sabbath is over, if this is possible; but if it is not, covers, cushions, and mattresses are placed under it so that it may get out without further aid; the pain of the animal is sufficient excuse (“ẓa’ar ba’ale ḥayyim”) for this Sabbath violation. But the animal might not be drawn out by men, a precaution taken in those cases where animals had gone astray and had to be driven back into the courtyard (“Yad,” l.c. xxv. 26; Shab. 128b; B. M. 32b; Ex. xxiii. 5).
In view of the spirit of philanthropy that, as Maimonides constantly asserts (“Yad,” l.c. ii. 3), underlies the Law, it is difficult to understand the controversies with Jesus attributed to the Pharisees in the New Testament. In Matt. xii. 1, Mark ii. 23, Luke vi. 1, the disciples plucked and rubbed the ears of corn and thus violated a rabbinical Sabbath ordinance (“Yad,” l.c. viii. 3; Yer. Shab. 10a; Shab. x. 7). But the defense of Jesus assumes that the disciples were in danger of dying of starvation; he charges his critics with having neglected charity. This must imply that they had not provided the Sabbath meals for the poor (Peah viii. 7). Thus he answers their charge with another. For the act of his disciples there was some excuse; for their neglect to provide the Sabbath meals there was none.New Testament Examples.
In the cases mentioned in Matt. xii. 11 and Luke xiv. 5 the “drawing up” of the animal would be an innovation, but the provision made by the rabbinical law for the comfort and possible escape of the animal is also a violation of the Sabbath. In the instance of the blind man whose sight was restored (John ix. 6) the important point is not the fact that Jesus broke the Sabbath law by kneading (Shab. xxiv. 3), for the provisions in regard to pain in the eyes (“Yad,” l.c. xxi.; Yer. Shab. xiv.) have no bearing on this case; the point involved is rather the use of magic in the restoration of sight (comp. Shab. 67a; Sanh. 101a). In all cures effected by Jesus this was the matter at issue, not the incidental violation of the Sabbath, which might be justified on the ground that life was in danger.
In John v. 2 et seq. the taking up of the bed would constitute the violation. But possibly “bed” here is a misreading for staff (“miṭṭah” instead of “maṭṭeh”). A “lame” person may carry his crutch or staff (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 301). If, moreover, the reading “bed” must be retained, for which there is a strong presumption, another explanation may be advanced. “Take up thy bed” may be a misapprehension of the Aramaic “ṭol we-ẓe,” the well-known formula for bidding one depart, “ṭol” being construed as “pick up” (naturally, therefore, “thy couch”), when in reality it means “pick thyself up,” or “walk away.” Jesus’ saying that the “Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark ii. 27) is a free translation of the Mekilta’s comment on Ex. xxxi. 13—”The Sabbath is given over unto you, you are not delivered unto the Sabbath.”Sabbath Celebration.
A brief description of the Sabbath celebration under the rabbinical system may show that even with all these minute constructions the day was a bringer of unmixed joy. The preparations for the Sabbath having been given in detail in a previous section, they need not be repeated here. At the conclusion of the services in the synagogue with the orphans’ “Ḳaddish,” the attendants hurried to their homes, where upon crossing the threshold they recited the prayer, “Peace be with ye, ye ministering angels,” etc. (comp. Shab. 119b, for the reason why the angels were apostrophized). This prayer was preceded by the greeting “Good Shabbat,” which was also exchanged on the way with passers-by; it was followed by the recital, on the part of the husband, of Prov. xxxi. 10 et seq., verses laudatory of the good housewife; after which the younger members of the family were blessed by their parents; the elder sons having received this benediction in the synagogue, where the rabbi was wont to bless all the young people of the congregation. Every family had, as a rule, a stranger as its guest, who had been to the synagogue and had been invited to participate in the celebration of the Sabbath. Students ate at the table of their masters (Güdemann, “Gesch.” iii. 102). The meal on the eve of Sabbath began with the “Ḳiddush.” The meal itself was sumptuous, fish being a favorite dish (Abrahams, “Jewish Life in the Middle Ages,” p. 150). The tableware was often of the finest and costliest; there was hardly a family that did not possess its gold or silver drinking-cup for the “Ḳiddush” and an ornamental seven-branched lamp for Friday night (Abrahams, l.c. p. 146). After the meal, the Ashkenazim throughout the year, the Sephardim only in winter and summer, sang the “zemirot ha-Shabbat” (idem, l.c. pp. 133 et seq.). This was followed by a grace containing a special reference to the Sabbath, after which all retired.Sabbath Prayers.
On Sabbath the people slept longer than on week-days (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 281; comp. Ex. xviii. 4, “in the morning,” with verse 9, “uba-yom ha-Shabbat,” from which the inference is drawn that on week-days one should rise early in the morning; on Sabbath, when the day is well advanced). After rising andrepeating the usual morning prayers, they repaired to the synagogue to recite the “shaḥarit,” ending with “ab ha-raḥamim”; after this the Torah roll was taken out and the proper “parashah” read, for which seven men were called up to the pulpit. “Ḳaddish” following, the “mafṭir” was called up, special benedictions were recited, the Torah returned to the ark, and, finally, the “Musaf” pronounced. The services ended, the second Sabbath meal was commenced. Hands were washed and then the blessing was recited over wine and bread. The meal included the “shallet” (dish kept warm overnight in the congregation’s oven) and fruit. After this meal “zemirot” were sung, and, grace being said, the next hours were devoted to study or discourses on the Law. Gilds (“ḥebrot”) were sometimes organized for this purpose (Abrahams, l.c. p. 327). The discourses were often largely attended (see Maimonides’ letter in Abrahams, l.c. p. 236). The Rabbis regarded the Sabbath as a befitting occasion to exhort their congregations. The “elders” are bidden to do this by a “taḳḳanah” contained in “Ḥuḳḳe ha-Torah” (published by Güdemann, l.c. i. 271), especially that the Torah may again come to its own. People of less serious mood would walk about, or be found dancing or gossiping in the yard of the synagogue (Abrahams, l.c. p. 381). Music was not regarded as incompatible with the character of the day, and Christian musicians often played gratuitously (see Mordecai on Beẓah v.; MaHaRIL, Hilkot “Erube Ḥaẓerot”).
Chess was a recreation largely indulged in on Sabbath, the figures being made of silver in honor of the day. Some of the rabbis stipulated that no money should change hands at the play (Löw, “Lebensalter,”p. 328). The Minḥah service interrupted studies, but this prayer having been concluded, the discussions were resumed (Pirḳe Abot especially was studied in the summer). After Minḥah the third meal, which, however, was much lighter than the others, was served. The Sabbath concluded with the “Habdalah.”
The Sabbath was often a refreshing oasis in the desert of persecution. Maimonides (“Moreh,” ch. ii. 31) assigns both repose of body and the symbolization of God’s existence as the reasons for its institution. Judah ha-Levi, a most scrupulous observer of the Law, while emphasizing the joyful character of the day, doubts that the Sabbath of the Christians and of the Mohammedans is as blessed as that of the Jews (“Cuzari,” iii. 5, 9). His Sabbath hymns, as those of Ibn Ezra and of many others, among them being the “Lekah Dodi,” attest the justice of Schechter’s words concerning the Sabbath (“J. Q. R.” iii. 763): “Notwithstanding rabbinical micrology, the Sabbath was a day of delight, whose coming was looked for with fond anticipations, whose parting was sped with grateful regrets.”
In the synagogal services the joyous note alone was heard. In fact, the life of the Jews is ample testimony that the Sabbath under the Law was anything but irksome, gloomy, and fatal to spirituality. Karaitic literalism succeeded in turning the Sabbath into a burden; but rabbinical legalism, with its legal fictions, avoided this. The injunction not to kindle a fire might have worked hardship; but the institution of the Sabbath goy met the exigency, though Meïr Rothenburg and Solomon ben Adret scrupled to avail themselves of this loophole. Even the provisions regulating partnerships with and service of non-Jews with reference to the Sabbath law may be called legal fictions; they are of an order of juridical reasoning which is not foreign to modern English and American courts. Rabbinical law accommodated itself to the demands of life.—Laws:
The Sabbath, being the fundamental and the most frequently recurring institution of Judaism, naturally engaged the attention of the Rabbis and of the codifiers to a very great extent. The few scattered laws of the Bible pertaining to the observance of this day grew into two large volumes of the Talmud (Shabbat and ‘Erubin), into thirty-eight chapters of the code of Maimonides, and into 175 sections of Caro’s Shulḥan ‘Aruk. The present article can deal only with the more important laws, especially those having relation to the conditions of modern life. These may be conveniently treated under two headings: (1) laws prohibiting the performance of any kind of work; and (2) those enjoining the observance of certain religious acts and ceremonies.I.In the Decalogue.
In both Decalogues is included the prohibition against performing any work on the Sabbath-day. In Ex. xx. 10 this prohibition is extended to all the members of one’s family (including male and female slaves), to one’s cattle, and to “the stranger that is within thy gates.” The same prohibition occurs in Deut. v. 14, where details are added and a philanthropic motive is assigned for the rest to be given to the slave on that day. The transgressor of this law incurs the death penalty (Ex. xxxi. 15, xxxv. 2). No precise definition of the term “work” is given in the Bible. From the account of the prohibition against gathering the manna on the Sabbath, it appears that cooking and baking were understood to be included under the head of work (ib. xvi. 22-27). The kindling of lights is expressly prohibited (ib. xxxv. 3). From Ex. xxxiv. 21 (comp. the parallel passage ib. xxiii. 12) it appears that plowing, sowing, and harvesting also were included in this prohibition. It is related (Num. xv. 32-36) that a man who was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath-day was, by divine command, stoned to death. In the prophetic books references are found to what was then regarded as work. Amos (viii. 5) refers to the prohibition of trading on the Sabbath. Jeremiah (xvii. 21, 22) emphasizes this prohibition, and warns the people against carrying burdens or performing any kind of work on the Sabbath-day. Nehemiah enters into a covenant with the people not to buy of strangers who bring their wares to the market on the Sabbath-day (Neh. x. 32); and when he finds this covenant disregarded and sees the people doing all kinds of work, as treading wine-presses, lading asses, and carrying wine, grapes, figs, and all manner of burdens, he remonstrates with the elders and closes the gates of Jerusalem on that day, so that the merchants have to remain outside the city (ib. xiii. 15-21).
In other books of the Bible similar references are made to the performance on the Sabbath-day of what was considered work; but nowhere is the term “work” in relation to the Sabbath strictly defined and circumscribed. The Rabbis, however, with their love for legal precision, laid down strict rules for the Sabbath, always endeavoring to find a Scriptural basis for their assertions.Classes of Prohibited Work.
The Mishnah (Shab. vii. 2) enumerates thirty-nine classes (“abot” = “fathers”) of work prohibited on the Sabbath. These are: sowing, plowing, reaping, gathering into sheaves, thrashing, winnowing, cleansing, grinding, sifting, kneading, and baking; shearing, bleaching, beating, and dyeing wool; spinning, making a warp, making two thrum-threads, weaving two threads, splitting two threads, tying, untying, sewing two stitches, tearing in order to sew two stitches; hunting deer, slaughtering, skinning, and salting it (its hide), tanning, scraping off the hair, cutting up (the hide); writing two letters, erasing for the purpose of writing two letters; building, pulling down; extinguishing fire, kindling fire; beating with a hammer; and carrying from one premise into another (see Maimonides, “Yad,” Shabbat, vii. 1). All of these kinds of work were presumed by the Rabbis to have been associated with the building of the Tabernacle; and because the prohibition against doing work on the Sabbath is found in close proximity to the account of the erection of the Tabernacle (Ex. xxxv. 2, 3), they assumed that only that was considered work which was necessary to be done in its construction (Shab. 73b, 96b). Each of these thirty-nine classes comprises a number of kinds of work which resemble it in some form or other. The specific kinds of work comprised under one head are called the “toladot” (children) of that class. For instance, the class of plowing, which embraces such kinds of work as digging or making canals, has for its toladot such labors as weeding or the pruning of trees (Shab. 103a; “Yad,” l.c. viii. 1). Similarly, reaping, which implies all kinds of harvesting, whether of grain, vegetables, or fruit, has for its toladot such acts as plucking fruit from a tree, or tearing off grass or mold that has grown on a box or a barrel, or cutting off a flower (Shab. l.c.; “Yad,” l.c. vii. 4, viii. 3).
There was no distinction in the punishment meted out to the transgressor, whether he performed one of the chief works (“abot”) or one of their toladot, except as regards the sacrifice to be offered in case a number of works coming under the same head were performed unwittingly (“shogeg”; “Yad,” l.c. vii. 7, 8). In either case, if the work was done wittingly (“mezid”) in the presence of two witnesses who had warned the transgressor of the attendant penalty, the punishment was stoning; if there were no witnesses, the punishment was “karet”; and if the transgression was committed unwittingly, the transgressor had to bring a sin-offering (“ḥaṭṭat”; ib. i. 2).Modifications as to Punishment.
Work on the Sabbath, in order to be punishable, must be performed with the intention of doing this particular work. If one threw a stone, intending to strike a man or an animal, and the stone struck a tree and broke one of its branches, or if one intended to gather grapes and gathered dates, or vice versa, there was no punishment ( ; Ker. 19a; “Yad,” l.c. i. 8-13). The necessary result of any action is regarded as lying in the intention of its author, whatever his avowed object may be. For instance, one who cut off the head of a living bird in order to give it to a child as a toy, was declared to be liable to punishment, since the death of the bird was a necessary consequence of the decapitation (). Similarly, if a man blew out a light, even though not for the purpose of being in darkness, but merely in order to save the oil or the wick, he was liable to punishment (Shab. 29b, 93a; “Yad,” l.c. i. 7; comp. RABaD ad loc.). If, however, the result was not a necessary one, although it did occur in consequence of the action, there was no punishment. If a man while walking on grass tore some of the blades, he was not liable to punishment, since the tearing of the grass could not be considered as a necessary consequence of the walking thereon (Shab. 95a; “Yad,” l.c. i. 5, 6). The work, in order to make the agent liable to punishment, had to be such as would be of advantage to him. If a man tore garments or set fire to objects with the sole intention of destroying them, he was not liable to punishment. If, however, he destroyed them with a view to later improvement, as in tearing down a house in order to rebuild it, punishment followed (Shab. 105b; “Yad,” l.c. i. 17, 18).Exceptions When Life Is in Danger.
The laws relating to the Sabbath, in common with the other ceremonial laws, are set aside in case of danger to life (). Moreover, if such an occasion for the violation of the laws arises, the work should be done not by non-Jews or minors, but by adult Jews or learned and pious rabbis, to show that while the laws of the Sabbath are important, the preservation of life is still more so (Tosef., Shab. xvi. 12; “Yad,” l.c. ii. 3). In case of dangerous illness about which physicians disagree, if only one says that certain work should be done in order to save the patient’s life, no question need be asked, and any one may perform such work. If a child is locked in a room and there is danger that it will die of fright, the door may be battered down in order to release it. It is forbidden to hinder even the desecration of the Sabbath when a life is at stake; “for the laws of the Torah are not laws of vengeance against the world, but laws of pity, mercy, and peace” (“Yad,” l.c. ii. 3).
The regular work of the Temple service was not interrupted on the Sabbath (see Sacrifices; Temple). Wars of defense might be waged on the Sabbath. Wars of offense were not to be begun during the three days before Sabbath, but if begun earlier they might be continued on that day (Shab. 19a; “Yad,” l.c. ii. 23-25).Sabbath Work by Gentile for Jew.
The Rabbis, in their endeavor to insure the proper observance of the Sabbath, prohibited a Jew from ordering a non-Jew to do any kind of work for him on the Sabbath-day (“shebut”). If, however, the non-Jew performed some work for himself, without intending that the Jew should benefit by it, the Jewmight enjoy the product of such work. Thus the Jew might use a light kindled by a non-Jew or grass gathered by a non-Jew for his own benefit (Shab. 19a, 122a; “Yad,” l.c. vi.). The Jew might even order the non-Jew to do certain work for him, when such work was forbidden only by rabbinic decree. Similarly, in case there was a sick person who was not in danger of death, and in whose behalf the Jew himself dared not violate the Sabbath, the non-Jew might be instructed to do the work (“Yad,” l.c. ii. 10). When a non-Jew was engaged by contract to do a piece of work for a Jew, the Jew did not need to inquire whether the non-Jew worked on the Sabbath or not, except when the work was to be performed openly and it was known that it was being done for the Jew. Thus, if a non-Jew entered into an agreement with a Jew to build him a house, the Jew had to stipulate in the contract that the non-Jew should do no work on that house on the Sabbath, unless it was to be erected in a place where no Jews passed (ib. vi. 12-15). When a Jew and a non-Jew entered into partnership, the Jew had to stipulate beforehand that the non-Jew was to receive all the profits made on the Sabbath and that the Jew should take all the profits made on some other day. If such a condition was not made, the Jew forfeited his share of the profits made on the Sabbath (‘Ab. Zarah 22a). According to a later opinion, when the partnership was of such a nature that both partners worked together every day, the non-Jew might attend to the work on the Sabbath and the Jew might take his share of the aggregate profits (“habla’ah”; R. Nissim on Alfasi, ‘Ab. Zarah i. end, s.v. “Umeha,” and Shab. xvi., end, s.v. “We-Yisrael”; Shulḥan ‘Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 245, 1, Isserles’ gloss).
The Rabbis forbid also the handling on the Sabbath-day of objects that are “set aside” (“muḳẓeh”) for work prohibited on that day. For instance, it is forbidden to handle money, stones, boards, and objects not regarded as vessels (e.g., a candlestick in which candles have burned, although they are now extinguished, or a purse in which money has been held, although now empty), since these objects were “set aside” for service such as is not permitted on the Sabbath. Vessels or other objects that are used in work prohibited on the Sabbath may not be handled unless they are needed for an action that may be performed. For instance, a hammer may be handled if it is needed for the purpose of cracking nuts, or if the place whereon it lies is needed; but it may not be handled for its own sake, e.g., to provide against its being stolen or damaged. It is also forbidden to handle objects that came into their present form of existence on the Sabbath (“nolad”), as an egg laid, fruit that fell from a tree, or milk milked by a non-Jew, on that day (“Yad,” l.c. xxv., xxvi.; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 308, 13).Speaking on Business Matters Forbidden.
Basing their action on the Scriptural passage, “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day . . . and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” (Isa. lviii. 13), the Rabbis forbid conversation about ordinary matters of business; also unnecessary exertion, as running, for any purpose not connected with worship or study. Thus a man is forbidden to examine his fields, to hire workmen, to walk (even less than the forbidden distance) from the town and wait on the way till sunset and then proceed on his journey, to calculate, to read business or even personal letters, to speak of profane objects, and the like. It is, however, permitted to speak or calculate about matters pertaining to holy purposes or to communal affairs, as the engaging of a teacher to teach one’s child religion or a trade, or to speculate about matters of congregational concern (Shab. 150a; “Yad,” l.c. xxiv.; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 306-307).
With regard to the laws relating to the prohibition of the transportation of objects from one place to another on the Sabbath, the Rabbis distinguish several kinds of premises, e.g., “reshut ha-yaḥid,” premises belonging to an individual, measuring at least four square handbreadths (“ṭefaḥim”), and surrounded by a fence at least ten handbreadths in height; “reshut ha-rabbim,” public premises, as streets, market-places, or thoroughfares, measuring at least sixteen cubits in width; “karmelit,” premises that can be considered neither as public nor as private property, as fields that are not enclosed, streams that are at least ten handbreadths deep and four wide, the sides and corners of streets, or stands erected in front of stores and similar places. In the reshut ha-rabbim and in the karmelit it is forbidden to carry an object a distance of four cubits. In the reshut ha-yaḥid transportation is permitted. The main prohibition is against removing an object from private property to public premises, or vice versa (“Yad,” l.c. xiv.-xviii.; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 345 et seq.), the difficulties attending which may be overcome by the institution of the ‘Erub. The prohibition of the transportation of objects from an enclosed to an open place is extended also to the carrying upon one’s garments of objects which can not be regarded as ornaments and which are not necessary for one’s health. An animal should not be permitted to leave private premises with anything that may be considered as a burden (“Yad,” l.c. xix., xx.; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 301, 5).Sabbath Journey Limited.
The passage “let no man go out of his place on the seventh day” (Ex. xvi. 29) was interpreted by the Rabbis as a prohibition against going beyond the limits (“teḥum”) of the city in which one resides. However, the limits of the city in this connection were regarded as being 2,000 cubits beyond its actual limits. Thus it was permitted to walk within the city, no matter how large, and without the city 2,000 cubits on each side, but not farther than that (“Yad,” l.c. xxvii., xxviii.; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 396 et seq.; see Jew. Encyc. v. 204, s.v. ‘Erube Teḥumin).II.Provisions for Sabbath Joy.
From the expression “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. xx. 8), the Rabbis inferred that the holiness of the Sabbath should be announced at its inception, and thus instituted the Ḳiddush service, to be recited while holding a cup of wine. From the passage “and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable” (Isa. lviii.13), they further inferred that one should endeavor to provide for the Sabbath objects that delight the soul of man, and to honor it in every way. It is an obligation resting upon every Israelite to eat three meals (according to some four meals; See Ḥidḳa) during the Sabbath-day (Shab. 117b). For these meals the best food that one is able to procure should be prepared (ib. 118b). Even those able to enjoy the best food every day of the week should arrange for some change in the Sabbath meals, if it be only in regard to the hours of eating. The poor also should endeavor to provide better food for the Sabbath meals, even if it be only an additional kind of vegetable. One is warned, however, against going to too great an expense in providing for the Sabbath; especially is one warned against soliciting charity for that purpose. On this point the rabbinic maxim is “Make thy Sabbath an ordinary day rather than render thyself dependent on the charity of other men” (ib. 118a). It is forbidden to eat a full meal on Friday afternoon, so that one may enjoy one’s Sabbath-eve meal with greater relish (see Eve of Holidays). Every Israelite, even though he may have many servants, should himself engage in the preparation of the Sabbath meal. It is customary to have two loaves of bread (“barches”; comp. Jew. Encyc. ii. 529) on the table at each of the meals, symbolizing the double portion of manna gathered by the Israelites on Friday in the wilderness (ib. 117b).
The honoring (“kibbud”) of the Sabbath consists in wearing finer garments than usual, in being bathed and shaven, and in showing reverence for the day in every manner possible (ib. 25b). The lighting of special lights by the housewife on Sabbath eve (see Lamp, Sabbath), the spreading of a special table-cloth, the use of special dishes, may be included under the same heading (“Yad,” l.c. xxx.; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 242, 249, 250, 260, 262 et seq.).Sabbath Ritual.
The public worship on the Sabbath has many characteristic features peculiar to the day. Before the regular evening prayers on Friday night, the Sabbath is introduced (“ḳabbalat Shabbat”) by the chanting of Ps. xcv.-xcix. (the Sephardim omit these) and xxix., “Lekah Dodi,” and Ps. xcii.-xciii. Some read also before the evening service the Song of Solomon, selections from the Zohar, and some cabalistic poems. The service proper is the same as on week-days, except that the last blessing before the ‘Amidah is replaced by the two verses Ex. xxxi. 16, 17. A change from the regular form is made also at the end of the benediction “Hashkibenu” (the changes made by the Sephardim are greater than those made by the Ashkenzim). The ‘Amidah itself, as well as the ‘Amidahs for the other services of the Sabbath, contains only seven instead of the nineteen blessings, the first three and the last three of the latter being retained, while the middle thirteen are replaced by one blessing varying in content in the different services of the day. Ḳiddush is recited by the reader after the ‘Amidah so that even those who have no homes may hear this blessing. In many synagogues the Mishnah of the second chapter of the treatise Shabbat is read before Ḳiddush.
In the morning service the “Zemirot” are augmented by the addition of Ps. xix., xxxiv., xc., xci., cxxxv., cxxxvi., xxxii., xcii., xciii., while Ps. c., read on week-days, at this point, is omitted (Sephardim read Ps. xix., xxxiii., xxxiv., xc., xci., xcviii., cxxi., cxxii., cxxiii, cxxiv., cxxxv., cxxxvi., and then “Baruk She-Amar” followed by Ps. xcii., xciii.). After the Song of Moses, a special prayer, “Nishmat,” is used; and in the “Yoẓer,” the first part (“Ha-Me’ir”) is replaced by three other selections (“Ha-Kol Yoduka,” “El Adon,” and “La El Asher Shabbat”). The characteristic feature of the Sabbath-morning service is the Reading from the Law. The taking out of the scroll from the Ark and the replacing of it are usually accompanied by the chanting of various hymns and psalms. After the scroll is replaced the Musaf prayer is recited.
Sabbath afternoon is usually spent by pious Jews in the study of various sacred subjects, each one according to his knowledge and ability. It is not an unusual sight on Sabbath afternoons to see the bet ha-midrash full of people, some reading psalms, others reading from the Scriptures the portion of the week with various commentaries, others studying the haggadic portions of the Talmud, and others again engaged in the study of the more difficult portions of the Talmud and of the codes. These studies are pursued by the people either singly or in groups, each group having its leader or reader. In some synagogues there is a permanent preacher (“maggid”), who delivers a homiletic address during the afternoon; in more modern synagogues the address is delivered by the rabbi during the morning service after the scroll is replaced in the Ark.Sabbath-Afternoon Service.
The Minḥah service begins with the reading of “Ashre” (Ps. cxlv.) and “U’ba le-Ẓiyyon Go’el,” after which the first section of the next week’s portion of the Law is read, when only three persons—a Kohen, a Levite, and a lay Israelite—are called up to pronounce the blessing. After the ‘Amidah it is customary to read one of the chapters of the treatise Abot on summer Sabbaths and Ps. civ., cxx.-cxxxiv. on winter Sabbaths. After Minḥah the last of the three prescribed meals (“shalosh se’uddot”) is partaken of, after which the people again assemble in the synagogue to read psalms in unison. Ps. cxix. is recited at dusk; and Ps. cxliv. and lxviii. are sung just before the evening service.
In the prayers for the Sabbath-day all references to sad events should be omitted. It is forbidden to fast on the Sabbath, even for a part of the day (see Fasting), or to lament or to supplicate for relief when one is in distress. On visiting the sick on the Sabbath one should say, “It is Sabbath; we dare not lament: healing will soon come; celebrate your Sabbath in peace” (Shab. 12a). Similarly, on visiting mourners one should say, “It is Sabbath; we dare not console: consolation will soon come” (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 287, and “Ṭure Zahab” ad loc.). Prayers for the dead are read in some synagogues before the scroll is replaced in the Ark, after which a general prayer for the souls of Jewish martyrs of all generations (“ab ha-raḥamim”) is recited. These prayersshould be omitted when there is present in the synagogue a bridegroom or the father of a child that is to be circumcised on that day, or when the day of the approaching new moon is proclaimed, or on any other joyous occasion (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 284, 7, Isserles’ gloss).Exaltation of the Sabbath.
The observance of the Sabbath in all its details is highly extolled in the rabbinic haggadah. If all Israel observes two Sabbaths (or even one Sabbath; Lev. R. iii. 1) in all their details, it will immediately be redeemed from exile (Shab. 118b). The Sabbath is a costly present given by God to Israel (ib. 10b). The pleasures of the Sabbath are one-sixtieth of the delights of the world to come (Ber. 57b). He who honors the Sabbath with the preparation of delightful things will receive all that his heart desires: his portion will be limitless, and his sins will be forgiven. He who eats the three prescribed meals on the Sabbath will be saved from the troubles of the Messianic age, from the judgment of Gehenna, and from the wars of Gog and Magog (Shab. 118a, b). Had the Israelites observed the first Sabbath in all its details, no nation or tongue could have prevailed against them (ib.; comp. ib. 87b; Tos. to Shab, s.v. “Kasher”). Maimonides concludes the chapters on the laws of the Sabbath in his code with the following paragraph:(ib. lviii. 14; “Yad,” l.c. xxx. 15; comp. Maimonides, “Moreh,” ii. 31)
“The institution of the Sabbath and the prohibition against idolatry are each equal in importance to all the other laws of the Torah [comp. Ḥul, 5a]. . . . The Sabbath is also a sign between the Holy One, blessed be He! and us forever. Therefore while he who transgresses all the other laws of the Torah is regarded merely as one of the wicked ones of Israel, he who publicly desecrates the Sabbath is placed on the same level with the idolater. . . . Thus the prophet Isaiah says, ‘Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil [Isa. lvi. 2]. Tradition plainly declares that the reward of him who observes the Sabbath in all its details will be greater in this world than in the world to come, as it is written, ‘Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it'”. www.yhwhww.org